Posts Tagged "black cohosh"

Wednesday Bubble: Black cohosh strikes again…

Posted by on May 6, 2009 in herbal medicine, hot flash, nightsweats | 5 comments

I’m beginning to see a pattern in my Wednesday Bubble posts. It certainly is not deliberate. But there’s more good news about black cohosh and I’d like to share it.

A Yale School of Medicine researcher and physician has presented findings of a web-based survey examining the use of Remifemin black cohosh standardized extract among 692 women, ages 35 to 45. The study results, which were displayed this week at the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology annual meeting, demonstrate that women are using black cohosh to avoid HRT. Okay, no big news there; I’ve posted about the utility of standardized black cohosh in lieu of HRT for almost a year now.

However, not only did almost 90% of women report being satisfied or highly satisfied with black cohosh, but approximately 88% noted that they felt it was effective or very effective for treating their symptoms.

More importantly, however, the study revealed that women are discussing the use of this standardized form of black cohosh with their health practitioners (mostly ob/gyns or family doctors). And, over half — an estimated 53.7% — said that their physicians were supportive of their decision to use black cohosh.

Personally, I find these results very encouraging; not only do they support a long-standing contention that black cohosh, namely Remifemin, is effective for hot flashes, night sweats, and other perimenopausal symptoms, but they also provide evidence that the communication channels between menopausal women and their practitioners are starting to open.

Notably, black cohosh is one of the few herbs that has been consistently shown to alleviate vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats. Although there has been some questions about its safety, particularly with regards to liver toxicity, there are accumulating data disputing some of these claims. Indeed, at this year’s ACOG meeting, another researcher examined and compared liver function in 142 patients taking standardized black cohosh extract and 138 taking placebo and found no statistically sigificant changes in liver function.  Moreover, analysis of a smaller group of with abnormal liver function values found only one case where there was a significant difference between the groups. This led the researchers to conclude that standardized black cohosh, namely Remifemin, can be used safely.

Personally, I’ve been using Remifemin for over a year now. Recommended by a health practitioner and endorsed by my Ob/Gyn, along with a variety of other Chinese and Western herbs, I’ve been fortunate and have  found significant relief from night sweats.

Like any herbal preparation, be sure to speak with a health practitioner who is certfied in practicing herbal medicine and can monitor your progress to insure that your regimen is safe and effective. But it is wonderful to know that traditional Western practitioners may be finally opening their eyes to HRT alternatives. Bravo!

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Erring on the side of black cohosh

Posted by on Apr 27, 2009 in herbal medicine | 0 comments

I’ve written quite a few posts about black cohosh over the past year. Black cohosh (better know in the plant circles as Actaea racemosa and cimicifuga racemosa) is an herb shown to treat vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings. Yet, concerns have been raised about its possible link to liver disease and toxicity.

Thus far, the evidence against black cohosh has been pretty lean. I’m happy to add a few more coals to that particular fire.

In a case report published in the Ahead of Print section of Menopause, researchers present evidence on nine cases of suspected liver toxicity in women who had used black cohosh.

The result: they excluded an potential link between the women’s symptoms and ingestion of black cohosh in eight of nine cases. In one case, they reported a possible association to liver disease for an unknown brand of black cohosh taken for two months but also state that the woman had factors that might have skewed the results.

They concluded that significant circumstantial evidence linking black cohosh to liver toxicity is missing.

Although this is a very small study, this is not the first time that upon examination, a lack of causality was found between black cohosh and liver disease. Of course, standardized formulations are a must, as is guidance from a healthcare professional who is well-versed in the use of herbs for menopause. Nevertheless, I am hopeful that eventually, black cohosh will become a respectable player in the field.

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One-stop shopping

Posted by on Dec 29, 2008 in herbal medicine | 4 comments

I recently ran across a press release for Menersa™, Vitaloix Labs’ neutraceutical that the company says addresses 34 common symptoms of menopause, including:

  • weight gain
  • hot flashes
  • night sweats
  • mood swings
  • vaginal dryness
  • urinary changes
  • loss of sex drive

Wow! One pill that does ALL THAT. Company spokesperson Janice Greenberg, also says that “evidence suggests that it (Menersa™) is comparable to low-dose estradiol for relieving hot flashes.”

So, what is in this wonder “drug” anyhow?

According to the product website, Menersa™ is a combination of phytoestrogens, black cohosh, soy isoflavones and other natural ingredients.

I want to believe

Truly, I do. But if anything, science and medicine has proven that one size rarely fits all.  What’s more, the company cites clinical studies that back their efficacy claims and yet the only thing on the web is a one-pager on the supplement that contains a description, testimonials and an order form.

As regular readers of this blog knows, I am a huge fan of herbal and alternative approaches to addressing menopausal symptoms. However, I am also a stickler for data that supports any claims.

So, Vitaloix. Show me the data. And if it does what it says it does, I’ll be an enduring fan.

Any of you try Menersa™ yet? Tell me about the product.

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Hot Flasher

Posted by on Nov 28, 2008 in hot flash, sleep disturbance | 0 comments


[Disclosure 1: just substitute the words “hot flasher!”  Disclosure 2: This song has been on my mind lately so needed to find a way to work it into the blog – thanks for indulging me!]

A new study published in the online edition of Menopause Journal has shown that hot flashes influence sleep in a stepwise or graduated fashion.

In this study, researchers analyzed data from 217 postmenopausal women between the ages of 40 and 60 years; information about hot flash frequency and severity was recorded in a daily diary, and sleep-wake patterns measured over an average of seven 24-hour periods in a subset of 112 women.

The results showed an association between moderate to severe insomnia frequency and severity of hot flashes and:

  • Greater nighttime wakefulness
  • A higher number of long wake episodes

So what can you do?

I’ve posted previously about the wonders of yoga to both sleep disturbance and flashes. Acupuncture might also help. And of course, that old black magic…cohosh.

Short of that…well, nothing like a little Pat Benatar…

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Hope springs eternal: black cohosh

Posted by on Oct 18, 2008 in breast cancer, estrogen | 0 comments

There may be good news on the horizon for perimenopausal women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer.  Researchers from the University of Missouri-Columbia are conducting an animal study to see how black cohosh and the tamoxifen interact.

Unfortunately, breast cancer patients who take tamoxifen to prevent their cancer from recurring, are unable to take hormones for menopausal symptoms that often occur as the drug starts working to shut down estrogen production. Consequently, one of the only options available to them are antidepressants, which are not always effective and depending on the agent, may cause side effects such as weight gain, fatigue or reduced sexual desire.

It’s a hopeful path that may help alleviate undesired side effects in women with breast cancer. If you’re interesting in reading more about black cohosh, you can click on the word in the tags category on the sidebar.

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