Tagged with 'women health'

Black Cohosh: A Menopausal Supplement Extraordinaire

Black Cohosh
Known as a member of the ‘Buttercup’ family of flowering plants, Black Cohosh is a plant used as an herbal and botanical extract in naturopathic medicine historically for women’s health.  Previously, the Natives often used it to address menstrual pain or irregularity, as well as fever and cough – now, present day: not much has changed. Black Cohosh today is used as an ingredient in many formulations for women’s hormonal health, or individually as a supplement targeted for menopausal symptoms. These types of symptoms include such things women may experience as hot flashes (or flushes), night sweats, sleep issues (apnea), irritability, vaginal dryness, and nervousness.  Menopause typically occurs in women around 50-60 years of age, at the cessation of menstruation and the supposed “end of the reproductive period.” However, menopause can begin earlier and can also be much more severe in terms of symptoms for many women.   Black Cohosh for Menopausal Symptoms: What Does the Research Say Black Cohosh is typically prepared for use as a medicinal supplement by using the roots and stems of the plant, which is then sold as a dietary supplement via whole herb, liquid extracts (alcohol-based tinctures), and dried extracts in pill form. Typically, as with most supplements – you’ll likely find the liquid-based tincture to be the most effective, as it is the most easily absorbed and utilized in terms of concentration and strength. However, capsules are a great option as well for people that would like to avoid consuming alcohol in tinctures.  The compounds believed to be responsible for the menopausal relief in Black Cohosh are likely the ‘glycosides’ present in the herb, along with natural caffeic, and fukinolic acids. You’ll notice many Black Cohosh products ‘standardized’ to contain a certain quantity of glycosides per capsule or dose, which is the amount of ‘active’ compound you’re after for benefit/relief from menopausal symptoms.  When picking a product, keep an eye out for whether it states “standardized to triterpene glycoside content” or simply “equivalent to [X] amount of Black Cohosh root.”  This will help you to determine how potent the supplement you’re purchasing actually is.  So, how exactly does Black Cohosh work to relieve menopausal symptoms? There are believed to be a number of possible pathways in regard to this action – some note that it is through the antioxidant abilities of Black Cohosh, in addition to it be a selective estrogen receptor modulator.  What this essentially means is that Black Cohosh may potentially increase the level of estrogen in the body (which is in much lower levels in those with menopausal symptoms) due to this reduced natural production of estrogen. In those with higher estrogen or estrogen dominance, it may act to lower estrogen through the ‘modulation’ of estrogen receptors.  Black Cohosh can then be said to function as a phytoestrogen.  While studies are never conclusive (and you always need to determine if a product is right for you, individually), Black Cohosh appears to help reduce symptoms of hot flashes/flushes, and sleep disturbances related to menopausal women – what there is not great evidence for, is using Black Cohosh for fertility purposes: a modest improvement in pregnancy was shown in women with infertility when using Black Cohosh along with pharmaceutical medication.  Additionally, Black Cohosh does seem to help with other symptoms associated with women’s health specifically – and the importance of hormonal balance. Those with irregular menstrual cycles, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), and uterine fibroids have found relief through supplementation with Black Cohosh (often in addition to prescribed medication).  This includes increasing the chances of getting pregnant, a reduction in the size of fibroids, and helping to ensure a regular menstrual cycle in those with PCOS – outside of those who are menopausal.  Black Cohosh: Precautions, Safety, and How to Supplement with It Typically, any side effects noticed (or noted) with Black Cohosh are extremely mild – and usually, just involve some sort of digestive upset or nausea if the individual reacts poorly to it.  Black Cohosh, has in rare cases, been linked to liver damage – this is important to note for those with liver disease, as this may be related to how effectively the liver processes the glycosides and compounds in it – generally, most people seem to tolerate daily use without issue.  For those taking it as a supplement, the dosage will depend on whether it is being taken as a capsule or liquid tincture. Dosage will vary between brands – anywhere from 20mg – 120mg as an extract or powered capsule.  Generally, most of the studies indicated benefits for menopausal symptoms at 20mg of Black Cohosh daily. Overdoing it on dosage may in ...