Black Cohosh for Menopausal Relief
As a result of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, many women and primary care physicians have reconsidered the use of estrogen and progesterone hormone therapy to alleviate hot flashes.
The study was stopped early because researchers found increased incidences of breast cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke and pulmonary embolism (the sudden blockage of an artery in the lung) in the group treated with hormone therapy when compared with the placebo group. Marry women find the risks associated with hormone therapy to be unacceptable and are turning to herbal remedies as an alternative treatment for relief.
What is Menopause?
Menopause is a chapter of life when a woman experiences a drastic drop in the female hormones, causing the cessation of menstrual cycle that marks the end of her reproductive life. This mid-life physiological changes usually occurs between ages 45 to 55.
Perimenopause is referring to the menopause transition years, the years both before and after the last period ever, with fluctuating levels of hormones that result in irregular periods, diminished fertility and symptoms of hormonal change. Post-menopause sets in when a woman has had no periods, not even any spotting for at least 12 months.
Symptoms of Menopausal
The menopausal symptoms that
affects a woman's health may be non-existent, mild, moderate or severe.
• Hot flashes ( the skin, especially
on the head and neck, becomes red and warm, and perspiration may be profuse )
• Night perspiration
• Psychological and emotional
symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, mood swings, depression and nervousness
• Skin thinning an ddecreased
• Decreased libido
• Vaginal dryness
• Loss of bladder control
• Muscles and joints ache
Eventually, menopausal women are also at risk of developing osteoporosis (severe thinning of the bones) and cardiovascular disease.
The roots and rhizomes of black cohosh or Actaea racemosa (formerly named Cimicifuga racemosa) are widely used in the treatment of menopausal symptoms and menstrual dysfunction.
According to a double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in Maturitas, 62 postmenopausal women randomized to estrogen, black cohosh, or placebo showed black cohosh given at a daily dose of 40mg for 3 months to be as effective as estrogen and superior to placebo in decreasing hot flash symptoms (P = .046).
Dr Wuttke, the lead researcher of the study also found that treatment with black cohosh had no effect on endometrial thickness, which was significantly increased among women receiving estrogen.
The published studies of black cohosh therapy for menopausal symptoms, used an estrogen product in the control group, and most of the trials used standardized outcome measures such as the Kupperman Menopause Index and the Hamilton Anxiety Scale.
Results of a study published in the Journal of Women's Health and Gender-Based Medicine found that 152 postmenopausal women receiving a high or low dosage of black cohosh showed similar decreases in Kupperman Index scores in the two groups (from a median score of 35 at baseline to a median score of 8 at 12 weeks).
The evidence to date suggests that black cohosh is useful in the relief of menopausal symptoms with an' overall positive safety profile for up to 6 months. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology guidelines on the use of botanicals for the management of menopausal symptoms support this use in the short-term treatment of sleep and mood disturbance, and hot flashes.