Benefits of Black Cohosh

Black cohosh is primarily used for treating the symptoms of menopause. However, the benefits of black cohosh may also extend to people who have osteoporosis and women with premenstrual syndrome. Although research does suggest that black cohosh may be effective for menopausal symptoms, there is not enough scientific evidence to support its effectiveness for other uses.

What Are the Benefits of Black Cohosh?

Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa, Cimicifuga racemosa) is an herbal supplement most often used for treating menopausal symptoms. In addition to this use, black cohosh is sometimes claimed to be beneficial for the following conditions:
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or other menstrual problems
  • Osteoporosis.
Traditionally, black cohosh is also used for labor induction (to induce labor in pregnant women).
Although research suggests that black cohosh may have benefits for natural menopause relief, there is not enough scientific evidence to evaluate the benefits of black cohosh for any other use (see Does Black Cohosh Work? for more information).
As with many supplements, the claims regarding the benefits of black cohosh are sometimes exaggerated, and these claims must be evaluated critically. Most importantly, it is essential to remember that natural products should not be used carelessly, as many natural products can be dangerous (for instance, many poisons are natural products).
Do not confuse black cohosh with blue cohosh. Blue cohosh is a completely different herb with different properties and actions (although it is often used in combination with black cohosh for inducing labor).

How Does Black Cohosh Work?

It is not clear how exactly black cohosh works. Black cohosh contains several different active compounds. Because black cohosh seems to be beneficial for treating menopause symptoms, it is thought that its activity is related to estrogen.
However, while black cohosh seems to work like estrogen (it has many actions similar to estrogen), research suggests that black cohosh does not bind to estrogen receptors and does not increase the number of estrogen receptors. Therefore, it is not known how or why black cohosh has estrogen-like effects.
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