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Quest Vitamins LTD,
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Aston Science Park,
B7 4AP.

Tel: 0121 359 0056
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Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)


Not to be confused with blue cohosh, a herb that is potentially toxic to the heart, black cohosh is used primarily to treat women?s health problems. Black cohosh has been approved by Germany?s Commission E for the treatment of Menopause, dysmenorrhea, and PMS.


In addition to women?s health problems, Native Americans traditionally used the herb to treat Arthritis, Fatigue, and snakebite. In the late nineteenth century, black cohosh became the main ingredient in the extremely popular treatment for menstrual Cramps known as Lydia Pinkham?s Vegetable Compound. Black cohosh was also a popular treatment in Europe for women?s problems, arthritis, and high blood pressure.


Standardised extract, containing 1 mg of 27-deoxyacteine per tablet, 1 or 2 tablets twice daily.


Modern research suggests that black cohosh mimics the effects of estrogen. The herb appears to display oestrogen-like action, binding to oestrogen receptors in the body (2). The herb appears to inhibit the pituitary hormone LH, the levels of which rise dramatically during Menopause (3-5).

Studies show that menopausal women experience significant improvement in the following symptoms after using black cohosh for 4 to 6 weeks: Hot Flushes, sweating, Headache, vertigo, heart palpitations, Tinnitus, Nervousness, irritability, sleep disturbance, Anxiety, vaginal dryness, and Depression. The best evidence demonstrating the benefits of black cohosh came from a double-blind study showing that black cohosh was more effective than oestrogen in relieving menopausal symptoms (6). However, there is no evidence indicating that black cohosh prevents Osteoporosis or heart disease, two significant benefits of oestrogen.

Menstrual disorders:
Black cohosh can be mildly effective for treating PMS and dysmenorrhea.


Aside from occasional mild gastrointestinal distress, black cohosh does not appear to produce any side effects. Studies involving rats demonstrate no significant toxicity with excessive and prolonged administration (7).

Black cohosh is not recommended for adolescents or pregnant or nursing women due to hormonal activity.

Women with breast cancer history, patients with liver or kidney disease, and young children should be cautious with black cohosh since safety has not been established.


Black cohosh may interfere with drugs for high-blood pressure or diabetes (8). However, no such incidents have been reported.

Transitioning from 0.625 mg of daily oestrogen to black cohosh is generally successful. However, transitioning from higher dosages of oestrogen may result in breakthrough Hot Flushes and other symptoms. Consult with a doctor before stopping oestrogen therapy.


1.Jones TK, et al. Profound neonatal congestive heart failure caused by maternal consumption of blue cohosh herbal medication. J Pediatr 132: 550-552, 1998.
2. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Eds. Blumenthal M, et al. Boston: American Botanical Council, 1998.
3. Jarry H, et al. II. Endocrine effects of constituents of Cimicifuga racemosa. 1. The effect on serum levels of pituitary hormones in ovariectomized rats. Planta Med 1: 46-49, 1985.
4. Jarry H, et al. The endocrine effects of constituents of Cimicifuga racemosa. 2. In vitro binding of constituents to estrogen receptors. Planta Med 4: 316-319, 1985.
5. Duker EM, et al. Effects of extracts from Cimicifuga racemosa on gonadotropin release in menopausal women and ovariectomized rats. Planta Med 57(5): 420-424, 1991.
6.Stoll W. Phytopharmacon influences atrophic vaginal epithelium. Double-blind study: Cimicifuga vs. estrogenic substances. Therapeuticum 1: 23-31: 1987.
7. Korn WD. Six-month oral toxicity study with Remifemin-granulate in rats followed by an 8-week recovery period. Hannover, Germany: International Bioresearch, 1991.
8. Newall C. Herbal medicines: A guide for health-care professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press, 1996: 80.

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