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All About Black Cohosh

Updated on September 1, 2013
Black Cohosh, or Actaea racemosa is also known as black bugbane, black snakeroot, and fairy candle.
Black Cohosh, or Actaea racemosa is also known as black bugbane, black snakeroot, and fairy candle. | Source

What is Black Cohosh good for?

Black cohosh is a herb used by some alternative health adherents to induce labor. It is also used to address issues associated with menopause such as hot flashes, PMS, osteoporosis, and acne.

Black Cohosh, also called bugbane, is a variety buttercup. Only the roots are typically used in medicinal preparations.

Research on the effectiveness and safety of black cohosh for treatment of menopausal symptoms is inconclusibe. While some studies show relief, others show no effect. All ofthe studies have only followed women for 6 months or less, so there is no data on the safety of black cohosh for long term treatment.

When is the best time to take Black Cohosh and how much should I take?

The FDA has not issued recommendations on Black Cohosh, so there is no official dosing schedule. The clinical studies on the safety and effectiveness of Black Cohosh, however, have typically used a dosing regimen of 8 mg a day, split into two doses twelve hours apart.

It's important to remember that Black Cohosh may stimulate uterine contractions, so it should not be used by women who are or may become pregnant, unless it is recommended by a doctor.

Have you ever taken Black Cohosh?

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Can you get breast cancer if you take Black Cohosh?

Black Cohosh is believed to have an estrogenic effect on the body. Since some breast cancers are believed to be related to the used of estrogen-based hormone replacement therapy, it is natural to be concerned that Black Cohosh might have a similar effects. Studies have neither proved or disproved this, however. The NIH has summarized the studies here.


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    • SusanMacD profile image

      SusanMacD 4 years ago

    • blueheron profile image

      Sharon Vile 4 years ago from Odessa, MO

      In any case, girls/women with menstrual problems generally can be fixed up by taking/eating seaweed.

    • blueheron profile image

      Sharon Vile 4 years ago from Odessa, MO

      It's actually hard to find anything very detailed or specific about the Native American use of black cohosh. Some old books say it can be used to regularize the menses of young women whose cycles are irregular, but it seems to me that this would involve taking it beginning after menses and then stopping taking it at the time the next menses was desired. But I have never been able to find detailed directions for this anywhere.

    • blueheron profile image

      Sharon Vile 4 years ago from Odessa, MO

      I've used black cohosh for menopause symptoms and found it very helpful. It relives joint pain related to osteoporosis, since osteoporosis is partly caused by declining estrogen production by the body. Black cohosh, being estrogenic, helps this situation. It also helps mood-related problems caused by low estrogen levels in the body, and I believe it reduces "hot flashes." Since I took black cohosh throughout menopause, I don't know what my menopause would have been like without it, but I suffered less from hot flashes than many other people I knew. (I still had them cccasionally.)

      Black cohosh, taken during menopause, seems to increase sex drive. Taken early in menopause, it will sometimes somewhat restore the menstrual cycle, even after it has stopped.

      During pregnancy, black cohosh is mainly used to prevent miscarriage. This is the stuff Iza gave to Ayla to prevent miscarriage. Native American women leading very vigorous lifestyles may sometimes found black cohosh useful to prevent miscarriage caused by physical demands during pregnancy. For example, a nomadic Native American woman may have spent many days riding horseback while following the buffalo with her tribe, so extra care might be needed to prevent miscarriage.

      I don't think it would be advisable to use black cohosh to induce labor. It seems to have the opposite effect, and would more likely slow labor. But I haven't done the research on this and I'm open to correction.

      If there are midwives among us (wrylilt is a doula), they may be able to tell us what herbs help labor to progress, and their experiences with them.