Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga Racemosa)

Black Cohosh Benefits

Black Cohosh has been used by Native Americans for more than two hundred years, after they discovered the root of the plant helped relieve menstrual cramps and symptoms of menopause. These days it is still used for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes/flushes, irritability, mood swings and sleep disturbances. It is also used for PMS, menstrual irregularities, uterine spasms and has been indicated for reducing inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and neuralgia.

Herbal researcher Dr. James Duke has this to say about Black Cohosh; "Black cohosh really should be better known in this country, especially with our aging population and the millions of women who are now facing menopause. Recognized for its mild sedative and anti-inflammatory activity, black cohosh can help with hot flashes and other symptoms associated with that dramatic change of life called menopause. It's also reported to have some estrogenic activity. Herbalist Steven Foster refers to a study that compared the effects of conventional estrogen replacement therapy with black cohosh. That study looked at 60 women, younger than 40 years old, who had had complete hysterectomies and were experiencing abrupt menopause. In all groups, treatment with black cohosh compared favorably with conventional treatment."

"Native Americans used the roots and rhizomes of this member of the buttercup family to treat kidney ailments, malaria, rheumatism, and sore throats. Early American settlers turned to it for bronchitis, dropsy, fever, hysteria and nervous disorders, lumbago, rattlesnake bites, and yellow fever. It's also reportedly well known for easing PMS and menstrual irregularities."

This estrogenic activity, notes Dr. Duke, can contribute to a 'mastogenic' effect; the natural enlargement of the breasts. Black Cohosh has also been used to induce labour and should not be used during pregnancy.

A dozen studies or more conducted throughout the 1980s and 1990s confirm that the long-standing use of black cohosh for menopausal symptoms has scientific validity. For example, in a German study involving 629 women, black cohosh improved physical and psychological menopausal symptoms in more than 80% of the participants within four weeks. In a second study, 60 menopausal women were given black cohosh extract, conjugated estrogens, or diazepam (a leading anti-anxiety medication) for three months. Those who received black cohosh reported feeling significantly less depressed and anxious than those who received either estrogens or diazepam. In another study, 80 menopausal women were treated for 12 weeks with black cohosh extract, conjugated estrogens, or placebo. Black cohosh improved anxiety, menopause and vaginal symptoms. In addition, the number of hot flashes dropped from 5 to less than 1 average daily occurrences in the black cohosh group compared to those taking estrogen in whom hot flashes dropped from 5 to 3.5 daily occurrences.

Given these examples, and results of other studies, some experts have concluded that black cohosh may be a safe and effective alternative to estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) for women who cannot or will not take ERT for menopause.

Preliminary studies also suggest that black cohosh may help reduce inflammation associated osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In a review of scientific studies, researchers concluded that a combination of black cohosh, willow bark (Salix spp.), sarsaparilla (Smilax spp.), guaiacum (Guaiacum officinale) resin, and poplar bark (Populus tremuloides) may help relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Black Cohosh Herb Notes / Side Effects

Latin Names

Actaea racemosa L, Cimicifuga racemosa, Cimicifuga heracleifolia, Cimicifuga dahurica, Cimicifuga foetida

Common Names

Black Cohosh, Black Snakeroot, Bugbane, Squawroot, Bugwort, Rattleroot, Rattleweed, Richweed, Cimicifuga, Sheng ma, Chinese Black Cohosh

Suggested Properties

Mild sedative, relaxant and anti-inflammatory. Contains glycosides (sugar compounds), isoferulic acids and, possibly, phytoestrogens (plant based estrogens). Diaphoretic, antipyretic, antifungal and antibacterial.


Menopause; Hot flashes, irritability, mood swings and sleep disturbances PMS Menstrual irregularities Uterine spasms

Indicated for

Reducing inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Neuralgia.

Black cohosh has an estrogen-like effect, and women who are pregnant or lactating should not use the herb. Large doses of this herb may cause abdominal pain, nausea, headaches, and dizziness. Women taking estrogen therapy should consult a physician before using black cohosh.

Large doses of black cohosh cause symptoms of poisoning, particularly nausea and dizziness, and can also provoke miscarriage.

Black cohosh should not be used by those who have full-blown measles or those who are having trouble breathing. It should also not be used by those with excess in the upper regions and deficiency in the lower part of the body.

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Estela Melara 's avatar  Estela Melara 28/06/2015 18:45

I have been taking black cohosh for several years, and when I stop taking it, I start having back swings mood, hot flashes, I take 540 milligrams a day. And I don't feel any side effects only I can not loose weight, but I am not too much overweight. I am 50 and I really recommend black cohosh.

M.E. 's avatar  M.E. 09/02/2011 23:26

Moving from peri- to menopause and experiencing all the annoying symptoms. When I take Black Cohosh regularly, along with several other supplements and herbs, my symptoms are minimal, if not altogether gone. I highly recommend this herb for menopause symptoms.

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Lis 's avatar  Lis 07/03/2013 14:01

Definitely black co hosh has helped me, I'm 47 and peri menopausal, apart for the usually symptoms I had been getting very bad boils, these boils would appear every month when my period was due. I battled these horrible boils for 2 years, they were very large and extremely sore and no one could tell me why. 3 months into taking black co hosh and my boils have disappeared. It's been 6 months now of taking the black co hosh and fingers crossed no boils, and all usual peri menopausal symptoms have eased and my period is back to 28 days religiously again.

1 person liked this.
Misty307rane 's avatar  Misty307rane 08/09/2011 03:09

I visited a Dr.years ago for PMS followed by the severity of hot flashes right on down to pain & suffering,I had severe anxiety,mood swings,much anger.The Dr.gave me prempro/premerin it only inhanced the problem to make matters worse,I also found these drugs are not good for the change of life people,it causes cancer.So sixteen years ago I heard about black cohosh,I feel great almost like a whole new person,no hot sweats,no mood swings no anger issues,no anxiety issues..Because of the name it generally scares people off but I have no regrets what so ever.

1 person liked this.
SymptomRelief 's avatar  SymptomRelief 19/06/2015 19:09

Yes. This herb has helped me. I am in peri-menopause at age 45 and have been experiencing night sweats, hot flashes and mood swings. I had been tracking my mood swings on a calendar and found they were directly related to my cycle. My NP suggested Prozac but I didn't feel comfortable with that suggestion. She then suggested a low dose birth control pill. Again I didn't feel that was really the answer. I did a little reading and started taking black cohosh. Within less than a week of starting the herb my hot flashes and nights seats have reduced significantly. My mood has returned to normal. No more irrational or crazy thoughts. I thought at one point like I was having a panic attack. I had a sudden feeling of doom and my heart was having weird palpitations. All of my symptoms have improved and I feel like I am back to normal again. Just wanted to share my experience with others. My only concern about this herb would be its DVT risk. I have read a bit about other side affects and plan to keep an eye out for any symptoms. I hope other women find symptom relief as well with this herb.

Lisa 's avatar  Lisa 07/02/2014 07:28

It take away my ovarian pain, and my cyst don't hurt me anymore, I take black cohosh and Maca herb for my cyst and abnormal bleeding and they both work. And i find that ones i take both i don't feel depression

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