One of the go-to herbs for women is menopause is Black Cohosh. It seems like a good idea. It’s natural. It’s herbs, so it must be safe. Right?
Weeeeellllll, not always.
Herbs are natural and they are generally safe in the right amount of doses, but they still need to have to be processed through the system. In the case of Black Cohosh, it goes through the liver on its way out of the body. I end up “fixing” a lot of livers as a homeopath, so this is of special concern for me.
History of Black Cohosh
This herb was first used by the Native Americans and introduced to the European Colonists who settled here. It was used for a number of different maladies, but since the time of the settlers, Black Cohosh has been used as a treatment for PMS (Probably didn’t call it that back then), menstrual cramps, osteoporosis, and starting labor when it won’t start on its own. It has also been used for breast cancer, infertility, arthritis, heart disease, promoting sleep. As you can see, it definitely has an affinity to the female reproductive system and related conditions.
But amongst all those potential positive effects (there is some scientific evidence that supports its efficacy after about a month of use), there are also some unintended side effects. Keep in mind that anything used in a material dose (meaning it hasn’t been potentized) can have a side effect. This means natural substances too. Read here for more information on how remedies are made.
Side Effects of Black Cohosh
Black Cohosh is generally safe if taken by mouth up to a year. But there are side effects, such as stomach distress, cramps, headaches, a rash, a feeling of heaviness, vaginal bleeding or spotting and weight gain.
So all-in-all, the side effects sound like typical menopause symptoms. Not exactly the goal in taking it.
But more concerning than the side effects are the potential damage to the liver. As a homeopath, it is one of the first things I look for when someone has been taking medications for a long time. It has not been confirmed that it causes liver problems, but it is still under study. People who take it should look for common liver symptoms: yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, fatigue, dark urine. I have a check list of liver symptoms that you can read about here. It is not recommended for women who have had breast cancer either.
Homeopathic Black Cohosh
So what is a person to do if they want a natural solution to the problems of menopause?
Black Cohosh has been used in homeopathy since 1853! So there is a very long history of its use in homeopathy as well as herbalism (At least 1853 is the first recorded “proving” of it.) Homeopathic remedies are referred to by their Latin names, so we call it Cimicifuga Racemosa. (Read this article to learn about provings.)
Cimicifuga has 2,828 known symptoms that it helps in homeopathy. Some of the mental emotional symptoms include grief and disappointment, which are common female emotions. It is also known to help depression which the client describes as “a black cloud overhead.” This could be depression all month long, or it could be related to the menstrual cycle.
Cimicifuga can also solve the problem of Rheumatoid arthritis in women who have serious menstrual problems, headaches on the top of the head, severe cramps especially in the lower abdomen, and possibly even pains in the ovaries.
Yes, all these things can be helped with one remedy, and NO SIDE EFFECTS, due to the way that remedies are created.
Is Black Cohosh for You?
Maybe the herb has been helping you and you want to continue taking it for a time. Just remember the note to not take it for more than a year.
In the homeopathic form, Cimicifuga Racemosa is one of many for menopausal symptoms. It may or may not be the correct remedy for you. Only your homeopath knows for sure. You can try it in a 30c to see if it helps. But don’t try it if heavy depression is not one of your symptoms. It is a safe option, even if it ends up not being the correct remedy for you.
If it doesn’t match your symptoms, schedule an initial appointment and find a remedy especially for your collection of menopausal symptoms.
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Black Cohosh information from: https://www.rxlist.com/black_cohosh/supplements.htm