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I've read that black cohosh is good for menopausal symptoms - what is it

01:00 Mon 04th Mar 2002 |

asks Susmith:
Black cohosh, also known as black snake root, bugbane and Cimicifuga racemosa, is the root��of Actaea racemosa, a perennial herb from North America and a member of the buttercup family.

It has a twisted and gnarled root,�pictured right.�'Cohosh' comes from a Native American word for rough. It was used by native North Americans for women's problems.

Q. Why haven't I heard of it before
It's only stating to become popular in Europe, although it is fairly widely used in Germany. At the moment, it isn't cultivated and all supplies are gathered from the wild.

Q. What sort of thing is it used for
It is an analgesic and antispasmodic treatment for such ailments as sciatica, low back pain, neck pain, painful periods, rheumatism, depression and menopausal symptoms - especially hot flushes.�

Q. Is there proof it works
There have been some studies that show that it's an effective replacement for HRT, improving both physical and psychological symptoms. Also, Black Cohosh didn't cause any of the side effects usually associated with HRT.

Q. How long does it take to work
Results have been found after four weeks of use, but six to eight weeks was more common. If it hasn't worked after 12 weeks, then stop taking it.

Long-term use has not been studied and most experts agree that it should not be taken for more than six months.

Q. How can I take it
As capsules, a tincture, or homeopathic tablets (Actaea rac.). Sometimes it is combined with other ingredients specifically to treat menopausal symptoms. Ask at your nearest health food shop.

Q. Are there any side effects
It may cause stomach upsets in some people, and it may lower blood pressure. Follow dosage instructions carefully as this is a powerful herb and a very high dose can cause nausea, vomiting, sweating and headaches.

It may also interfere with drugs, such as the contraceptive pill, or drugs for hypertension.

Never use black cohosh while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Always tell your GP if you start a course of black cohosh.

Q. How can I find out more about black cohosh
The following site gives the history of black cohosh and lists many of the studies done with it:

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