Historical uses of black cohosh
We know that you've probably been hearing about black cohosh for some time now, but we want to make sure you're not missing out on what it has to offer.
Historically, black cohosh was a popular herb among Native Indigenous people of North America. They used it in a variety of ways—to treat pain, fever, cough and pneumonia; to bring on labour and to regulate the menstrual cycle. It's also been used to treat rheumatism, sore throat and kidney disorders.
Nowadays, however, black cohosh is most commonly used to help alleviate the symptoms of menopause because it contains phytoestrogens (a plant compound), which can help reduce hot flashes and vaginal dryness—common symptoms associated with menopause.
So while black cohosh has been around for years, it might just be the perfect addition to your daily routine.
As you approach menopause, your estrogen levels begin to decline. This leads to a whole host of symptoms, including hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal dryness, and a decreased libido. It's not fun! There are drugs available that can help increase estrogen levels and ease these symptoms, but they come with side effects just as unpleasant as the symptoms themselves.
Black cohosh doesn't actually increase estrogen levels—it just tricks your body into thinking it does—but it does provide real relief from the symptoms we know and hate so well.
Pain and anxiety
Some of the more surprising uses for Black Cohosh include relieving pain, tension, and promoting relaxation. Other known applications include: improving mood, relieving arthritis and rheumatoid conditions, supporting a healthy immune system, relieving anxiety, and relaxing muscles and nerves.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
The current state of research on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has sparked a new interest in seeking out alternative therapies in not only the natural health industry but also traditional western medicine.
The risks associated with HRT, including breast cancer risk, cardiovascular disease, stroke risk, dependence and more have prompted the search for safer and more effective solutions. Black Cohosh is one such alternative that has been studied extensively for its role in women’s health and hormonal balance.
Links between estrogen and serotonin
New research suggests that Black Cohosh may work in several different ways:
- as a selective estrogen receptor modulator
- through serotonergic pathways
- as an antioxidant
- on inflammatory pathways
Our bodies are pretty amazing – at least when they’re cooperating. But sometimes, our body starts to rebel against us and we have to start looking for ways to get back in balance. Menopause is a time in a woman’s life where that can happen.
Thankfully, there are natural supplements that can help alleviate the symptoms of menopause. One of these is black cohosh, which works by relieving symptoms through estrogen-like properties. There are also serotonin pathways that can be helpful too.
In fact, SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) have been shown to help with menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, anxiety and insomnia. Because serotonin works on the Central Nervous System (CNS), it has the ability to relieve these symptoms. Serotonin notably regulates body temperature which would explain its ability to control hot flashes, whereas mood and sleep are also regulated by the CNS and serotonin pathways as well as estrogen.
For example, women often experience menstrual migraines during times in their cycles where estrogen drops, which also leads to a drop in serotonin, thereby causing a migraine. It also seems that estrogen has the ability to increase serotonin and the number of serotonin receptors in the brain. This is why when estrogen levels are the highest, during ovulation, women feel the happiest. The relationship may be reciprocal as one study supported the ability of serotonin to increase estrogen
What does this all mean?
The benefits of black cohosh for women's health are numerous. Considered to be one of the most powerful herbs for women, it has been used for centuries by Native Americans and European settlers to treat reproductive disorders, inflammation, pain and menopausal symptoms.
The active ingredient, a plant extract called triterpenes, is thought to be responsible for its estrogenic effects on the body. In addition to relieving menopause symptoms as well as regulating the menstrual cycle and promoting fertility, Black Cohosh may also help improve mood and reduce cramps.
Products that use Black Cohosh