Black cohosh is an herb of the buttercup family that is native to North America. Other names for black cohosh are black snakeroot, bugbane, bugwort, macrotys, rattleroot and rattleweed. Black cohosh may, for a short time, relieve symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness. Scientific studies of black cohosh have been relatively short, at approximately six months.
Black cohosh was used by Native Americans as medicine, and the herb was used as a home remedy in 19th-century America for a variety of disorders including malaria, rheumatism, sore throat, coughs, colds, hives, constipation, backache, lung or kidney conditions and gynecological disorders like infertility, menstrual abnormalities, labor pain relief, inducing labor, threatened miscarriage and inflammation of the ovaries or uterus.
Black cohosh underground roots and stems are available fresh or dried and can be made into strong teas, liquid extracts, capsules or pills. You should discuss taking any herbs with your physician to decrease interactions with other medications and to avert difficulties.
Black cohosh can cause side effects like stomach upset, headaches, constipation, slow or irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, heaviness in the legs, weight problems and loss of bone mass leading to osteoporosis. High doses of this herb may cause dizziness, sweating and vision problems.
Serious Side Effects
You should not take black cohosh is you have a liver disorder. This herb may cause liver trouble, including hepatitis and liver failure, with symptoms such as dark urine, stomach pain and yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes. The incidence of liver trouble is rare, but is still a concern.
Black cohosh isn’t the same herb as blue cohosh. The two herbs are sometimes used together to stimulate labor, but blue cohosh may cause adverse effects in newborns. The natural form of black cohosh contains salicylic acid, which is found in aspirin, and may produce a reaction in people allergic to aspirin. It is unknown how much salicylic acid is present in products available to consumers.