Black Cohosh (cimicifuga racemosa) is a native North American plant that has been used for thousand of years by Native Americans to treat women’s health issues. Although the results of scientific studies have been mixed, some researchers have found that black cohosh is effective in alleviating both the physical and psychological symptoms of menopause, including anxiety, vaginal dryness, and hot flashes. Other studies have shown that the herb is useful in treating the premenstrual discomfort provoked by hormonal changes, including breast tenderness, irritability, and low moods.
Black cohosh is frequently used as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy, and some studies suggest that the herb acts as phytoestrogen, binding to estrogen receptors and influencing the release of pituitary hormones. However, to date scientists haven’t found conclusive data that black cohosh has an estrogen-like effect on the body.
Other Potential Healing Benefits
Black cohosh also shows promise in treating a number of other conditions, including arthritis, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, asthma, and joint pain. Its healing potential is truly impressive and merits rigorous scientific evaluation.
A member of the buttercup family, black cohosh is a perennial shrub with serrated leaves and clusters of tiny white flowers. Herbal preparations are made from the plant’s roots and rhizomes, which contain a number of glycosides, flavonoids, and terpenes. Black cohosh is widely available in health food stores in tablet and tincture form.
Black Cohosh in Ayurvedic Medicine
While black cohosh wasn’t available in ancient India, it can be analyzed according to ayurvedic principles. The herb contains the bitter and pungent tastes and has a cooling effect on the body. Black cohosh can balance both Pitta and Kapha; prolonged use may aggravate Vata dosha. Learn more about the doshas.
Although more research is needed, black cohosh has a long history of safety. However, because of its potential stimulating effect on the uterine muscles, black cohosh is not recommended for women who are pregnant.
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