Black cohosh is a powerful plant whose potential and mechanisms of action are still being discovered. It originates from the North American continent and grows naturally in forests and meadows. Its healing properties were first discovered by American Indians who used it for muscle and bone pain, coughs, shortness of breath, snake bites and to help women during childbirth and menstrual problems. When the first settlers from Europe arrived, they recognised the potential of this plant and made it a tonic “for women’s troubles”. In recent times, the Germans were the first to use it commercially, in the 1940s; at the end of the last century, detailed scientific research included it in numerous preparations for relieving menopausal problems. Today, according to the European Medicines Agency, there are as many as 24 black cohosh preparations on the market in Germany.
The plant’s scientific name is Cimicifuga racemosa which comes from the Latin cimex which means a beetle and fugo, from fugare, which means to flee; that is why one of its names in English is bugbane – alluding to its strong scent that repels plant lice. Racemosa, which means grape-shaped, describes its bunch-like flower. The Indians also called it snakeroot because it helped them neutralise snake venom. It is the root, i.e. the rhizome, that is medicinal and from which extract is made today.
WHY IS BLACK COHOSH MEDICINAL?
The rhizome of this plant contains triterpene saponins, including actein, cimicifugoside, cimiracemoside A, isoflavone formononetin, flavonol kaempferol, phenylpropanoids such as ferulinic and hydroxycinnamic acids, and there are alkaloids (cytisine, N-methyl cytisine), resins and tannins. Until recently, black cohosh was considered a powerful phytoestrogen plant, but recent research has refuted this. This plant does not contain oestrogenic compounds, but works by directly promoting the secretion of hormones serotonin and dopamine and the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the decline of which is common in menopause, which results in bad mood and depression. In short, black cohosh naturally lifts our spirits.
Menopause is a normal phase in a woman’s life that begins around the age of 51, officially one year after the last menstrual period. The period that precedes it is called perimenopause and is characterised by a number of unpleasant symptoms – hot flashes, sweating, insomnia, nervousness, mood swings, nervous tension and irritability, mood swings, depression, mental fog and low self-esteem. But unfortunately that is not all. As hormones affect all vital functions, their decline during this period can lead to headaches, joint pain, sudden weight gain, and susceptibility to disorders such as metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disorders and decreased bone density – osteoporosis. The drop in hormones is directly reflected on our skin, because it slows down the synthesis of collagen, which causes the skin to sag and wrinkles to appear. Nowadays, women enter menopause earlier due to pollution, harmful chemicals that disrupt the work of hormones, stress and the fast pace of life; they lose the protective effect of hormones and are thus more susceptible to all these disorders. Therefore, it is clear that it is desirable to maintain hormonal balance for as long as possible; on the other hand, research has shown that hormone replacement therapy can later increase the risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease. That is why we need natural solutions that will help women enter menopause as late as possible and as painlessly as possible. And that is where medicinal plants come into play.
IT HAS PREVENTIVE ACTION AND SLOWS AGEING
As already mentioned, it was previously believed that black cohosh binds to oestrogen receptors and therefore it was thought that this oestrogenic effect could accelerate the formation of breast cancer cells. However, today we definitely know that this is not true. Research has proven that black cohosh does not cause breast cancer, but on the contrary – it prevents it; in addition, it has preventative action against hot flashes and osteoporosis. In fact, black cohosh extract slows down the ageing process with its metabolic effect.
That is why black cohosh is often used today as a natural solution for vasomotor symptoms in menopause – hot flashes and sweating, as well as vaginal dryness, palpitations, dizziness, sleep disturbance, irritability and nervousness. Research has proven that preparations based on this plant need to be taken for four to eight weeks for their full effect to show and their efficacy increases with longer use. Black cohosh is safe for use in prescribed doses and can be used for up to six months without a break.
Black cohosh is ideal in combination with other plants that have a similar effect and it is best to use them as soon as the first symptoms of menopause appear. For example, chaste tree, which thanks to its isoflavones has a positive oestrogenic effect also has anti-inflammatory action; wild yam which contains diosgenin – based on which the first contraceptive pill was made – stimulates the secretion of estradiol and progesterone without causing harmful consequences; hops which, in addition to oestrogenic effect also have anti-tumour, anti-inflammatory and neuro-protective effect, naturally calm the nervous system; angelica, which with its coumarins has a sedative and antidepressant effect, protects mental functions and prevents metabolic disorders; and ginseng, a famous adaptogen, which protects the body from oxidative stress, prevents cognitive decline and also positively affects libido and relieves hot flashes.
All these plants, along with black cohosh, are part of a new preparation intended for women on the verge of menopause – Femisan Gold capsules. They will not only keep the protective effect of hormones for as long as possible and alleviate unpleasant symptoms, but will also protect the body from disorders that lurk in the transition period. Femisan Gold is therefore an ideal and completely natural solution that introduces us to the carefree golden age of life.
The following products contain this plant: