For centuries American women used the gnarled black cohosh root to treat different "female problems", such as PMS, menstrual cramps and menopausal symptoms. In 1900s the plant became the main ingredient of a popular tonic for women. It was Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable Compound which is still sold but no longer contains the herb.
So, the main function of black cohosh herb is treating women's diseases. The level of estrogen declines in a woman's body at middle age. For this reason the woman may experience vaginal dryness, hot flashes, depression and other unpleasant symptoms. As for cohosh it is able to make up for this decline by providing powerful plant compounds which simulate the hormone's effect. The compounds are called phytoestrogens. They bind to hormone receptors in different parts of the body, such as breast and uterus, and lessen hot flashes, headache, depressive mood, vaginal dryness, dizziness and other hormone-related symptoms.
In 1991 a study was held. It showed that black cohosh herb can also help to reduce hot flashes by minimizing levels of luteinizing hormone (LH), a compound which is produced by the brain's pituitary gland that controls the activity of women's ovaries. It was proved that the reason for hot flashes is the rise in LH. Black cohosh herb is also used as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT). But it is worthy of note that both HRT and phytoestrogens may increase the risk of breast cancer. That is why back cohosh is not advised to the women who have breast cancer.
Another disadvantage of the phytoestrogens is that they cannot provide the protection from osteoporosis or heart disease while HRT can. Black cohosh herb possesses antispasmodic properties which help to relieve menstrual discomforts. In addition, the intensity of particularly painful cramps may be lessened by possibly increasing blood flow to the uterus.
The herb's phytoestrogens are even able to help women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) as they stabilize hormone levels. Besides treating women's diseases black cohosh is used for a variety of other diseases, for example eczema and insect bites. The herb is also employed to clear mucous membrances, to lessen bothersome coughs and associated congestion as cohosh possesses mild sedative and anti-inflammatory effects. Black cohosh used to fall out of favour for several decades. But now it is in use again as an antidote for hot flashes.
Nowadays the herb can be found in the dried form, in the form of black cohosh tea, tinctures, capsules and tablets. The cohosh remedy can also have some possible side effects. When taken at recommended doses, the herb produces few -if any- adverse reactions. However, some women taking black cohosh may have dizziness, stomach disorders, limb pain, low blood pressure. If taken at high doses the herb may cause headache, low blood pressure, vomiting, dizziness. In such cases the woman should consult a doctor iimmediately. The herb can be taken at any time of day. But to avoid stomach disorders it is advisable to take it with meals. As it has bitter taste try it with lemon or honey.