- Black cohosh, a member of the buttercup family, is a plant native to North America. It was used in Native American medicine and was a home remedy in 19th-century America. The underground stems and roots of black cohosh are commonly used fresh or dried to make strong teas (infusions), capsules, solid extracts used in pills, or liquid extracts (tinctures).
- Menopausal symptoms. Research shows that taking some black cohosh products can reduce some symptoms of menopause.
- Black cohosh has a history of use for rheumatism (arthritis and muscle pain) but has been used more recently as a folk or traditional remedy for hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and other symptoms that can occur during menopause.
- Black cohosh has also been used for menstrual irregularities and premenstrual syndrome, and to induce labor.
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.”
- United States Pharmacopeia experts suggest women should discontinue use of black cohosh and consult a health care practitioner if they have a liver disorder or develop symptoms of liver trouble, such as abdominal pain, dark urine, or jaundice. There have been several case reports of hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), as well as liver failure, in women who were taking black cohosh. It is not known if black cohosh was responsible for these problems. Although these cases are very rare and the evidence is not definitive, scientists are concerned about the possible effects of black cohosh on the liver.
- Some people taking black cohosh have experienced side effects such as stomach discomfort, headache, or rash. In general, clinical trials of black cohosh for menopausal symptoms have not found serious side effects.
- Although concerns have been raised about possible interactions between black cohosh and various medications, a 2008 review of studies to date concluded that the risk of such interactions appears to be small.
- It is not clear if black cohosh is safe for women who have had hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer or for pregnant women or nursing mothers.
- Black cohosh should not be confused with blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), which has different properties, treatment uses, and side effects than black cohosh. Black cohosh is sometimes used with blue cohosh to stimulate labor, but this therapy has caused adverse effects in newborns, which appear to be due to blue cohosh.
Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination
- Cisplatin (Platinol-AQ) interacts with BLACK COHOSH. Cisplatin (Platinol-AQ) is used to treat cancer. There is some concern that black cohosh might decrease how well cisplatin (Platinol-AQ) works for cancer. Do not take black cohosh if you are taking cisplatin (Platinol-AQ).
- Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) substrates) interacts with BLACK COHOSH
- Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Black cohosh might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking black cohosh along with some medications that are change by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of your medication. Before taking black cohosh talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.
- Some medications that are changed by the liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), clozapine (Clozaril), codeine, desipramine (Norpramin), donepezil (Aricept), fentanyl (Duragesic), flecainide (Tambocor), fluoxetine (Prozac), meperidine (Demerol), methadone (Dolophine), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), olanzapine (Zyprexa), ondansetron (Zofran), tramadol (Ultram), trazodone (Desyrel), and others.
- Medications that can harm the liver (Hepatotoxic drugs) interacts with BLACK COHOSH
- There is concern that black cohosh might harm the liver. Taking black cohosh along with medication that might also harm the liver can increase the risk of liver damage. Do not take black cohosh if you are taking a medication that can harm the liver.
- Some medications that can harm the liver include acetaminophen (Tylenol and others), amiodarone (Cordarone), carbamazepine (Tegretol), isoniazid (INH), methotrexate (Rheumatrex), methyldopa (Aldomet), fluconazole (Diflucan), itraconazole (Sporanox), erythromycin (Erythrocin, Ilosone, others), phenytoin (Dilantin), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), simvastatin (Zocor), and many others.
Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination
- Atorvastatin (Lipitor) interacts with BLACK COHOSH
- There is concern that black cohosh might harm the liver. Taking black cohosh with atorvastatin (Lipitor) might increase the chance of liver damage. However, there is not enough scientific information to know if this is an important concern. *Before taking black cohosh talk to your healthcare provider if you take atorvastatin (Lipitor).
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