Black cohosh

Saga correspondent

Black cohosh is used in the treatment of post-menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, depressive moods and sleep disturbances.


Black Cohosh preparations are made from the roots of the plant, a member of the buttercup family.

The problems and side effects associated with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have increased the popularity of alternative methods of treating menopausal symptoms.

The medical community seems to be shifting its viewpoint on hormone replacement. It appears that most traditional doctors now prefer using low doses of hormones for a brief period of time to treat menopausal symptoms, but prefer not to continue hormone replacement therapy indefinitely as in the past. Black cohosh is not particularly well-known in conventional medicine.


It is used in the treatment of menopausal disorders; especially the post-menopausal symptoms of hot flushes, depressive moods and sleep disturbances.


The normal dose is 20 mg taken orally twice a day. But, the effects may take two weeks to become apparent and around 8 to 12 weeks to reach maximum levels.

The current recommendation is that you take it for a maximum of six months at a time. Then stop for at least one month before beginning a second six months.


There have been some concerns about the safety of Black Cohosh. In July 2006 the European Medicines Agency said that the labelling on Black Cohosh would have to carry warnings about liver damage, and that you should always tell your doctor if you are taking it. Mild stomach complaints are the most frequent problem. High doses could cause vomiting, headaches and dizziness.

Don't take Black Cohosh at the same time as HRT or oestrogen therapy as it could make the oestrogen effects more powerful.

It doesn't work with everyone. Trials found that it helped 80% of people to some extent. If you decide to take it, remember it needs a minimum of a month and preferably longer to have a reasonable effect.

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