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Black cohosh is a plant native to the rich woods of Eastern North America. It is a perennial herb that grows up to three meters high. The dried roots and rhizome are the plant parts with medicinal value.
Black cohosh has been a part of traditional medicine for centuries. Native Americans employed the herb for general malaise, kidney ailments, malaria, rheumatism, sore throat, and snakebites. The most valuable use of the herb was in gynecological problems and childbirth.
Black cohosh is regarded by some herbalists as one of the best remedies for whooping cough. Early Eclectic practitioners made heavy use of the plant. The United States Pharmacopoeia listed the herb from 1820 to 1936. During the 19th century, black cohosh was prescribed in New York hospitals in the treatment of rheumatism.
Herbalists report black cohosh has several effects on women's health. First, the herb promotes and/or restores healthy menstrual activity. It also soothes irritation and congestion of the uterus, cervix and vagina. Quick, uncomplicated deliveries are accomplished by using black cohosh. The herb also promotes uterine involution and recovery after the birthing process. In menopause, black cohosh acts as a sedative to relieve discomfort and problems.
Black cohosh has a reputation for correcting all nervous conditions. Consequently, it is employed in many nerve formulas. The actions associated with the herb are nervine, tonic, antispasmodic, alterative, sedative, emmenagogue, antitussive, bitter stomachic, diuretic, and diaphoretic (produces sweating).
The constituents found in black cohosh are alkaloids, tannins, terpenoids (cimigoside), racemosin, formonoetin, salicylic acid, phytosterols, and cimicifugin.In studies, one component, acteina, exhibited hypotensive 'lowers blood pressure) action in unanesthetized rabbits and cats. In humans, black cohosh promotes peripheral vasodilatation (opens blood vessels in the limbs) and thus lowers blood pressure. Researchers verified that black cohosh as a smooth muscle and nerve relaxant. An extract of the herb was recently approved by the Russians as a central nervous system tonic and a treatment for high blood pressure.
Black cohosh has demonstrated anti-inflammatory activities, maybe because it contains salicylic acid, an anti-inflammatory agent closely related to aspirin. Extracts of the plant have decreased inflammation by 33 percent in laboratory animals. Researchers find the herb lowers heart rate while increasing the force of the pulse and equalizing circulation. In vitro experiments using black cohosh have also demonstrated antimicrobial activity.
The German Commission E (an agency similar to the American FDA) found black cohosh to be effective in the treatment of PMS and dysmenorrhea, as well as nervous conditions associated with menopause. Pharmacological studies have demonstrated that the herb contains substances that cause endocrine activity. It creates two primaryactions: 1) reduces selectively the serum concentration of pituitary luteinizing hormone, and 2) has the ability to bind estrogen receptors of rat uteri. The constituents responsible for this action are not identified; however, formonoetin (an isoflavone) is believed to be involved.
The triterpene glycosides (i.e., cimicifugoside) found in black cohosh have an effect on the hypothalamus-pituitary system, thus leading to secondary effects on the reproductive and central/peripheral nervous systems One researcher interprets these results as the herb working directly on the tissues of the reproductive apparatus and indirectly through the nervous system.
Numerous clinical studies have confirmed the efficacy of using black cohosh to treat neurovegetative and psychic problems associated with menopause. A clinical study .of women who had hysterectomies with severe symptoms reported no significant differences between groups treated with estrogen and those with black cohosh. In women treated for eight weeks with the commercial product Remifemin (an ethanolic extract of black cohosh), luteinizing hormone-but not follicle-stimulating hormone-levels were reduced significantly.
Black cohosh (100 capsules)