Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa or Cimicifuga racemosa), a member of the buttercup family, is a perennial plant native to North America.
Black cohosh is commonly used for menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats, vaginal dryness, heart palpitations, tinnitus, vertigo, sleep disturbances, nervousness, and irritability.
Commonly called menopausal symptoms, these happen before and after menopause. Perimenopause is the period of around 4 years or longer where women have these symptoms.
A 2010 review concluded menopausal women experienced a 26 percent reduction in night sweats and hot flashes when using black cohosh supplements.
A 2013 review of available studies found that menopausal symptoms reduced more, on average, in women taking black cohosh than in women taking a placebo.
The menopausal symptoms black cohosh could be used to reduce include:
• hot flashes
• excessive sweating or night sweats
• loss of elasticity and moisture in the vulva and vaginal tissues
• pain during intercourse
• sleep disturbances
• mood changes, such as nervousness and irritability
• decreased sex drive or motivation
• heart palpitations
• ringing in the ears
• bone density loss in postmenopausal women
• heart disease in postmenopausal women
• reduced mental performance in postmenopausal women
Most health authorities and studies suggest that if black cohosh is used, it should only be taken for a maximum of one year.
As the herb acts as a blood thinner, bleeding and blood pressure disturbances may occur with use.
Natural supplements to avoid while using black cohosh include:
• chaste-tree berries
• evening primrose oil
• blue cohosh
• ginkgo biloba
• saw palmetto
• willow bark
• St. John's wart