Medical uses of actaea racemosa include relieving symptoms of menopause, depression, and arthritis. Otherwise known as black cohosh, actaea racemosa is considered a dietary supplement, and therefore, not required to undergo rigorous testing in the same way drugs do. Actaea racemose is commonly recommended for hot flashes, night sweats, and osteoporosis, as well as premenstrual symptoms. This dietary supplement is said to mimic the effects of the hormone estrogen in the body, and therefore may be an effective alternative for those for whom hormone replacement therapy is not recommended.
Actaea racemosa may also help relieve irritability, insomnia, anxiety, and menstrual cramps. Antidepressants have also been found to help treat night sweats and hot flashes, however, studies have shown that actaea racemosa may be even more effective than antidepressants in treating these symptoms. It is believed actaea racemosa may also be effective in the treatment of osteoporosis by reducing bone loss, however, more studies are needed to confirm this finding.
Arthritis is another condition that may be helped by actaea racemosa because it might inhibit the inflammatory process common in arthritis. In addition, the supplement may be just as effective in relieving symptoms as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications are. People should talk to their health care providers before taking actaea racemosa or any dietary supplement for arthritis or other medical conditions or symptoms.
The black cohosh plant is commonly found in eastern North America and supplements are available in extracts, tinctures, or tablet forms. The typical adult dosage for actaea racemosa is between 40 mg and 80 mg daily. Although many people tolerate this dietary supplement easily, others experience side effects. These side effects include abdominal pain, nausea, headaches, and tremors. Weight gain, visual disturbances, and a slow heart rate have also been reported. When these side effects occur, the supplement should be immediately discontinued and the health care provider notified.
People taking certain medications or who have certain medical conditions may not be appropriate candidates for this supplement and should discuss the risks and benefits with their health care providers before taking it. Though some people believe black cohosh may be effective in treating breast cancer, and it is not yet evident whether it inhibits the growth of cancerous breast cells or promotes it. Women with a personal or family history of breast cancer should also discuss taking black cohosh with their health care providers, who can recommend alternative methods of treating menopausal symptoms, arthritis, and osteoporosis.