Menopausal symptoms can be overwhelming. Night sweats, hot flashes, changes in mood, sleep problems and weight gain from a slower metabolism all have the potential to take their toll on your body and mind.
These symptoms are caused by a natural decline in reproductive hormones. This happens as your ovaries begin to produce less estrogen and progesterone. The instability that comes along with menopausal symptoms can often lead to depression or anxiety. It can be difficult to function and carry out everyday activities.
While hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, is often used to help ease menopausal symptoms, they carry their own serious risks and side effects for women. More women are considering the risks and turning to alternative therapies to treat their menopausal symptoms.
It’s very important to visit your healthcare professional to discuss any issues you might be experiencing with menopausal symptoms, and there are natural herbal treatments that can help. Speak to your medical professional openly about your symptoms and get their recommendations before trying alternative therapies.
Black cohosh is an herbal supplement often used to treat menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. It is also used for other medical conditions like premenstrual syndrome and menstrual cramps.
What is Black Cohosh?
Black cohosh is a native herb from the buttercup family that grows in the woodland areas of North America. The roots and underground stems or rhizomes are used in medicines and supplements. Dietary supplements are produced in pill form from both dried extracts and liquid extracts and the whole herb is also powdered and sold in bulk.
Black cohosh has a long history of medicinal use for a range of illnesses from kidney and gynecological disorders to colds and sore throats.
It is also used on occasion to treat minor skin conditions topically, like acne, moles and warts. Today, black cohosh is still used for women’s health issues and is popular for treating premenstrual syndrome or PMS, menstrual pain and hot flashes related to menopause.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has noted that this supplement may be useful for the short term of up to six months of use for women suffering from menopausal symptoms.
What Does Black Cohosh Do for the Body?
It is not known exactly how black cohosh works in the body. The root is used for medicinal purposes, and it contains several chemicals that work on the immune system and the brain. It has the potential to reduce inflammation in the body, and it works on the nerves in the brain in a similar manner as serotonin.
While black cohosh does not seem to have any effects similar to estrogen or female hormones, it contains phytoestrogens and may increase or decrease the effects of estrogen based on different areas of the body. Phytoestrogens are plant-based substances that act like estrogen in the body.
This supplement takes a patient approximately two weeks to start feeling the effects and can take up to eight to twelve weeks to experience the full potency of black cohosh.
Does Black Cohosh Increase Estrogen?
While black cohosh does not increase estrogen, it could affect existing levels of estrogen in the body. Some scientific researchers believe that black cohosh works through the serotonergic pathways in the brain acting as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant or selective estrogen receptor modulator.
This essentially means that black cohosh may modulate existing levels of estrogen in the body, which may ease menopausal symptoms.
What Are the Side Effects of Black Cohosh?
Side effects may include gastrointestinal problems, dizziness, nausea and headaches.
Black cohosh should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women. Also, anyone with liver or kidney disorders or a protein S deficiency should avoid taking black cohosh. It is important to consult a medical professional before using any supplements or medications, including black cohosh.
Black cohosh may help manage estrogen in the body and can possibly ease menopausal symptoms. It may also help with inflammation and act as a protective antioxidant in the body.
When purchasing this supplement, look for high-quality ingredients and reputable brands to ensure you are getting the best possible product.