Does Black Cohosh Work?

Many people may wonder, "Does black cohosh work?" There is some evidence that black cohosh does work for relieving the symptoms of menopause, although these studies have shown conflicting results. However, more research is needed to determine whether black cohosh is effective at treating osteoporosis, inducing labor, and treating premenstrual syndrome.

Does Black Cohosh Work?

Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa, Cimicifuga racemosa) is an herbal remedy that is frequently used to treat the symptoms of menopause. In addition to this use, black cohosh is sometimes claimed to be useful for the following:
  • Treating osteoporosis
  • Treating premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Inducing labor (stimulating labor in pregnant women).

Black Cohosh Studies

Of all the possible black cohosh uses, only one is supported by scientific evidence. Even so, studies have shown conflicting results. Many studies have shown black cohosh to be moderately effective for treating the symptoms of menopause (often as effective as prescription medications), and many studies have shown that black cohosh is no more effective than a placebo (a "sugar pill" that does not contain any active ingredients).
Early research suggests that black cohosh may be helpful for osteoporosis. However, this research was not designed to evaluate whether black cohosh increases bone mineral density or lowers the risk of fractures (broken bones). More evidence is necessary before any conclusions can be made.
There is not enough evidence to recommend black cohosh for PMS or for inducing labor (see Black Cohosh and Pregnancy).

Final Thoughts on Black Cohosh Effectiveness

Early studies suggest that black cohosh may be useful for natural menopause relief. However, further research is needed to confirm that black cohosh is indeed effective (and safe) for this and other uses. It is important to remember than black cohosh is classified as a supplement (not a drug) and is, therefore, less strictly regulated than drugs. This means that it can be marketed without being shown to be safe or effective.
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