Black Cohosh is a member of the buttercup family and is sometimes known as bugbane, squawroot, rattle root or black snakeroot.
It grows up to 2.5 metres high and has tall stalks of fluffy white flowers. The gnarled black root is the part of the plant that's used.
It's dried, ground to a powder and normally sold in capsule form.
It all seems too good to be true, but it's been used for centuries and it's one of the main ingredients in Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable Compound, popular as a women's tonic in the USA in the early 20th century, which is still available today.
If you have a medical condition, then speak to your doctor before using any supplements.
Do not use Black Cohosh whilst pregnant - it is classed as a medium strength emmenagogue.
Do not use whilst breastfeeding.
Be aware it could interfere with hormonal medicines, particularly the contraceptive pill - consult your doctor.
If you're taking medication for blood pressure, then, once again consult your doctor before using it, it can also reduce blood pressure and it may cause yours to drop too low.
Having taken all that into account, if you're looking for some help to see you through menopause symptoms without resorting to chemical HRT, then Black Cohosh is known to help with hot flushes, sweating and vaginal dryness.
It works by reducing the hormone that is produced in the pituitary gland that is thought to be the cause of hot flushes.
It has an anti-spasmodic effect, which means it can help with menstrual cramps. It works by increasing the blood flow to the uterus and reducing the intensity of the contractions.
Likewise it may help during labor and after childbirth.This is its emmenagogue action, it can bring on contractions and if taken early in pregnancy, could cause a miscarriage.
It has an anti-inflammatory effect and can treat nerve related pain such as sciatica or neuralgia.
For menopausal or Pre Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) symptoms, take 40 mg twice a day.
For PMS, begin treatment 7 to 10 days before you menstruate. For cramps, take 40 mg 3 or 4 times a day as needed.
Consult your doctor or nurse regarding the time to take it for labor pains.
Black Cohosh can be taken any time of the day, but it may cause stomach upsets, so it's best to take it with food.
Allow four to eight weeks to see a benefit for menopausal symptoms.
It's safe to take for long periods and there are no known toxic effects.
A very high dose can cause nausea, vomiting, reduced pulse rate and headaches. Stick to the recommended dosages.
Find a supplement that contains 2.5% of triterpenes, which is the active ingredient.
Black Cohosh can also be used as a compress for sore muscles and aching joints.
Boil the root in water for 20 minutes, let it cool and apply to the affected area and cover with a clean cloth for about 20 minutes.
It is a true marvel of nature. If you're female, there's some point in your life when it's going to be of use.
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