Black cohosh is known by technical terms Cimicifuga racemosa and/or Actaea racemosa. This herb is a member of the buttercup family and is sold as a dietary supplement – especially as a natural hormonal therapy product. Some suppliers and retailers of this herb claim black cohosh is one of the top ten selling botanical products in North America.

Used as a treatment for hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms (such as night sweats and vaginal dryness), it also has a history of use for arthritis and muscle pain. Some pharmacists cite this herb as the main ingredient in a German over-the-counter menopausal formula called Remifemin.

Grown from a plant native to North America, it may also be referenced as black snakeroot, bugbane, bugwort, rattle root, rattle top, rattleweed, squaw root, and macrotys. This herb may also sometimes be referred to as “fairy candles” on account of the white flower blossoms appearing on the 4-8 foot tall plant during the June and July growing season.

Black cohosh products are generally made from the plant’s roots or underground stems. A perennial plant found in Washington and Oregon shaded woodlands, North American Indians reportedly used this herb in medicines designed to treat malaria, sore throats, colds, coughs, hives and to induce lactation in addition to the treatment of the aforementioned menopausal symptoms. Plant juices could also be used as a repellent for insects or as a snake bite salve.

There are no known food sources for black cohosh – so supplements are typically the standardized way consumers take the herb. Generally speaking, black cohosh root is marketed as a phytoestrogen – basically meaning it is a naturally-occurring plant chemical that acts like estrogen within the body. (Food sources for other phytoestrogens do exist, however.)

Black cohosh is unique from blue cohosh and care should be taken not to confuse the two herbs despite the sharing of the “cohosh” terminology. While both may be considered as a natural treatment for various feminine ailments, their effects may differ. Derived from the barberry family, blue cohosh is generally considered a uterine tonic and is associated with inducing labor. It is strongly recommended both herbs be used with supervision or consultation of a medical professional. Black cohosh can have a number of serious side effects if not taken properly – particularly dizziness, nausea, and in some cases, provoking miscarriage.







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