The EclecticPhysician

The Eclectic Physician
Medicinal Herb Monographs

Black Cohosh

Botanical Name 
Cimicifuga racemosa

Cimicifuga racemosa

Cimicifuga racemosa
(Black Cohosh)

The information on this page compiled by
Beth Burch N.D.
Index
(click on the keywords)

Introduction

Black Cohosh is a Native American remedy used for the treatment gynecological complaints and even for snakebite. Kingís American Dispensatory recommends it for rheumatism and neuralgia, muscle pain, menstrual cramps, headache and fever. Recent European studies have demonstrated its value in the treatment of menopausal symptoms including hot flashes, vaginal dryness and insomnia; its effects being comparable to estrogen therapy for these symptoms.

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Description

  • Black Cohosh is a member of the Ranunculaceae or Buttercup family and is native to the deciduous forests of eastern North America. It is a perennial herb, growing up to 5 feet tall with a leaf in three parts and a long raceme of delicate white flowers. It is easy to grow and makes a nice garden plant under a deciduous tree, blooming from June through August. The root and rhizome are used in medicine.

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Constituents

  • Triterpene glycosides including actein and 27-deoxyactein
  • Phenylpropane derivatives
  • Isoflavones including formononetin
  • Resins
  • Tannins

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Action/Effects

  • Antispasmodic
  • Emmenagogue (promotes menstruation)
  • Binds to estrogen receptors (5)
  • Decreases LH (luteinizing hormone) secretion (4)

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Conditions used for

  • Menopausal symptoms including hot flashes, vaginal dryness, insomnia and depression (1,2,3,4)
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Neuralgia
  • Muscle pain

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Dosage

  • Dried root- 250 mg two to three times a day
  • Liquid extract- 1/2 teaspoon two to three times a day
  • Dry extract assayed to 27-deoxyactein- 40 mg twice a day

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Side Effects

  • Stomach upset
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Severe headache, vomiting and dizziness in large doses

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Contraindications

  • Pregnancy

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Interactions with medications

  • Donít combine with estrogen replacement therapy or antihypertensive medications without a physicianís advice

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Use in pregnancy & lactation

  • Should not be used in pregnancy due to its uterine stimulant effects

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References

1. Lieberman S, A review of the effectiveness of Cimicifuga racemosa (black cohosh) for the symptoms of menopause, J Womens Health 1998;7(5):525-9
2. Liske E, Therapeutic efficacy and safety of Cimicifuga racemosa for gynecologic
disorders, Adv Ther 1998;15(1):45-53
3. Lehmann-Willenbrock E et al, Clinical and endocrinologic studies of the treatment of ovarian insufficiency manifestations following hysterectomy with intact adnexa, Zentralbl Gynakol 1988;110(10):611-8
4. Duker EM et al, Effects of extracts from Cimicifuga racemosa on gonadotropin release in menopausal women and ovariectomized rats, Planta Med 1991;57:420-24
5. Jarry H et al, Studies on the endocrine effects of the contents of Cimicifuga racemosa, 2. In vitro binding of compounds to estrogen receptors, Planta Med 1985;51:316-19

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* The information presented in this web site is intended to inform and educate. It is not intended replace a qualified medical practitioner to diagnose or treat medical conditions.

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