Both alternative-health practitioners and mainstream healthcare professionals recommend the use of black cohosh due to its effectiveness as a traditional and modern herbal remedy.
Below are some of the many health benefits of this flowering plant.
Black cohosh has phytoestrogens or natural compounds that function just like estrogen in the human body. The plant's primary active phytoestrogen is fukinolic acid and it is responsible for significant changes in the breasts, endometrium, ovaries, and uterus. Black cohosh can be used as a natural alternative to HRT because fukinolic acid stimulates an estrogen-like response. (Related: Herbal treatments help balance hormone fluctuations and mood swings in women.)
Black cohosh supplements can also ease the common discomforts linked with decreased estrogen levels associated with menopause. Black cohosh supplements are often used to ease hot flashes and night sweats, but it can also be used to remedy other common symptoms caused by menopause, such as chronic fatigue, depression, and osteoporosis.
Traditional midwives advise women to take black cohosh supplements when they are in the last trimester of pregnancy. The supplements help increase blood flow to the pelvis and stimulate contractions in the uterus. In the final weeks of pregnancy, black cohosh can help induce stronger Braxton-Hicks ("practice") contractions. These practice contractions help to "soften" the cervix so that the uterus is prepared for labor.
Some midwives use large doses of black cohosh to stimulate labor in women whose pregnancies have gone past term. During childbirth, the herbal remedy can be given to address stalled or slowed labor.
Black cohosh has estrogenic and contraction-inducing effects that can help treat some menstrual disorders. Some women with amenorrhea/late or absent periods use black cohosh to induce menstruation. The herb is usually recommended as a natural remedy for irregular menstrual cycles.
Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that affects a woman’s hormone levels, and other problems linked to menstrual irregularity, may also use black cohosh.
Since it can help dilate the cervix, black cohosh is also used to treat menstrual cramps. However, while the herb is effective, it can also have negative side effects. Black cohosh is linked to severe or prolonged bleeding, and using the herb may prolong your menstrual period by several days.
In the American Southeast, black cohosh is traditionally used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. The plant does have potent anti-inflammatory properties, but studies have yet to confirm its effectiveness against joint inflammation and chronic pain.
Black cohosh may also be used to prevent breast cancer. However, the estrogenic effects of the herb can also increase the risk of breast tumors. Consult a healthcare professional before taking black cohosh supplements.
If you're suffering from any of the health conditions listed above such as PCOS or menstrual cramps, consider taking black cohosh supplements instead of over-the-counter drugs (OTC drugs) that may contain harmful chemicals.
Black cohosh is a flowering plant that grows in parts of the U.S. and Canada.
To read more articles about why women should use black cohosh and other natural remedies, visit WomensHealth.news.