Black Cohosh for Menopausal Symptoms: Does It Work?

Black Cohosh for Menopausal Symptoms: Does It Work?

Menopause is a natural stage in a woman’s life when the ovaries stop releasing eggs and menstrual periods cease. Symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, muscle and joint pains, mood changes, and sleep disturbance are commonly experienced during menopause. These symptoms can greatly impact daily life and wellbeing. The main therapies available include menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) and non-hormonal prescription therapy. However, some women turn to complementary and alternative medicines to manage their symptoms.

Black cohosh, also known as Cimicifuga racemosa, is a popular herbal remedy that is often used to relieve symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and mood changes. However, the scientific evidence regarding its effectiveness is inconclusive.

Studies have suggested that black cohosh may work by acting like estrogen or affecting chemical pathways in the brain. However, a 2012 review found no convincing evidence that black cohosh reduces hot flushes more effectively than a placebo. Subsequent studies have provided mixed results, with some showing improvement in symptoms and others showing no significant effects.

It is also important to note that there is no meaningful evidence to suggest that black cohosh helps with other menopausal symptoms, such as vaginal symptoms, sexual problems, or poor general wellbeing. Furthermore, there is no evidence to suggest that it protects against bone loss.

While black cohosh is generally considered safe to use, some side effects such as gastrointestinal upset and rashes may occur. There have been rare reports of liver damage, although it is uncertain whether black cohosh was the cause. As a precaution, black cohosh products in Australia are required to carry a warning label about potential harm to the liver.

It is important for women to consult with their doctor before using black cohosh, especially if they have a history of breast cancer or are taking other medications, to ensure there are no potential interactions or risks involved.

In conclusion, while some women may find that black cohosh helps alleviate their menopausal symptoms, the current scientific evidence is insufficient to prove its effectiveness. Women who are experiencing troublesome symptoms should talk to their doctor about the best treatment options available to them.

– The Conversation –

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