The health benefits of black cohosh include relieving menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, and insomnia. Other benefits of black cohosh include reducing pain from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Studies also suggest that taking black cohosh may help protect the bones and relieve menstrual cramps. Since black cohosh is not considered a drug, it is not rigorously scrutinized or tested by government agencies, in the way drugs are. Black cohosh supplements are available at drug and grocery stores, and health and nutrition retailers.
Though the benefits of black cohosh include easing hot flashes and night sweats related to menopause, it can take up to 12 weeks or more before a noticeable difference in symptoms occurs. The typical black cohosh dosage in the treatment of menopausal symptoms is 40 mg to 80 mg daily. Women who experience debilitating menopausal symptoms should talk to their health care providers before taking black cohosh or other dietary supplements to treat their symptoms.
While benefits of black cohosh include decreasing the inflammation that is associated with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, the health care provider should be consulted to determine if this supplement is safe for the individual. Osteoarthritis causes joint cartilage to wear down, and generally affects the joints in the knees, hands, and hips. Rheumatoid arthritis typically affects small joints in the feet and hands. Further studies are underway to confirm the effectiveness of taking black cohosh for arthritis.
The effects of black cohosh can mimic the effects of the hormone estrogen. This is why it is thought that black cohosh may help in the treatment of osteoporosis. Black cohosh contains phytoestrogens, which are estrogens that are plant based. Like natural estrogen, phystoestrogens in black cohosh might inhibit loss of bone that is characteristic of osteoporosis. This condition is degenerative in nature and can lead to fractures and bone fragility. It is also thought that black cohosh might help heal bone fractures.
Alternatives to black cohosh and other dietary supplements in the treatment of menopausal symptoms include hormone replacement therapy. This type of therapy is effective in treating hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal atrophy, and night sweats, brought on by the effects of fluctuations in estrogen. Though hormone replacement therapy works quickly to relieve symptoms, it can cause significant side effects. Taking hormones can also increase the risk of gynecological cancers such as breast cancer and uterine cancer. Hormone replacement therapy can also raise the risk for heart attack and stroke, and may also increase the risk for blood clots.