Hot flashes, insomnia, sweating, anxiety, palpitations, headaches, poor concentration and loss of libido. Sounds like the “possible side effects” listed for a drug you’d opt not to take, right? It’s also the list of symptoms that herald the onset of menopause. A new study suggests that black cohosh, an herb long used to soothe these symptoms by practitioners of Chinese medicine to Native American healers, does make menopause less miserable.
Researchers in Iran conducted the study and published their findings in the journal Chinese Medicine. Heather S. Oliff, PhD, reviewed their work in the American Botanical Council’s HerbClip.
The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial included 84 early post-menopausal participants referred by public health care centers in Tehran. Each day, the women received either a tablet with 6.5 mg of dried extract of black cohosh roots, or a placebo. Their condition was measured using the Greene climacteric scale, a tool that analyzes psychological, somatic and vasomotor symptoms. Researchers recorded scores at the beginning of the trial, after four weeks, and again after eight weeks.
The black cohosh reduced the symptoms at early menopause, and the longer it was taken, the better the results, according to the researchers’ conclusion.
The American Botanical Council published a comprehensive report on adulteration of black cohosh last year, discussing confusing nomenclature, market economics, the history of alleged liver toxicity and analytical tests to ensure the correct identity of black cohosh.