Posts Tagged "black cohosh"

Is your mattress the ‘key to cool’?

Posted by on May 14, 2010 in nightsweats | 3 comments

Hot flashes? Night sweats? I’ve written about various solutions, ranging from herbs to bed clothes and sheets. But I was intrigued when I ran across an article about a mattress manufacturer that claims that its mattress will keep you cooler without the all the trappings…as in, trapping the heat that is wafting off your body without circulating it properly.

According to Robin McRoskey Azevedo, the president of McRoskey mattresses, the ‘key to cool’ is in the way a mattress is constructed and the materials that are used. Consequently, theoretically, air circulates freely, cotton covers and materials breathe and vented sidewalls and flexible coils allow for better airflow.

Even the customer testimonials sound convincing.

There is a price to comfort, however, as McRoskey sets (mattress plus boxspring) can run upwards of $5,000. Lots of moula to insure better comfort during sleep.

There’s nothing better than a phenomenal mattress. I believe in making the investment because better mattresses do last. However, I’m not entirely convinced that the key to a cooler sleep is a better mattress. Rather, it seems that appropriate herbs (like black cohosh), great sheets, and proper bed clothes can make a huge difference without denting your wallet quite as deeply.

What do you think is the key to cool?

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Wednesday Bubble: herbs and breast cancer

Posted by on Apr 21, 2010 in breast cancer, herbal medicine | 1 comment

Can herbal medicines used for hot flashes, namely black cohosh and phytoestrogens, be safely used in women who’ve had breast cancer?

If you’ve had breast cancer, you’ve probably been told to stay away from herbal medications, right? Yet, women who’ve had breast cancer know that hot flashes are a common side effect of many cancer therapies. Research also suggests that the older a woman is at the time she receives chemotherapy, the more likely she is to develop menopause as soon as treatment stops. Moreover, roughly 80% of women taking Tamoxifen have hot flashes and about a third of those women rate them as severe. Hormones are not even an option due to the increased breast cancer risk.

The good news is that an extensive analysis of scientific studies shows that black cohosh might be safe for women who have had breast cancer. Although the researchers note that the evidence for the effectiveness of black cohosh for alleviating hot flashes is mixed, they cite research from the National Institutes of Health and other reviews that suggest that use of black cohosh in former breast cancer patients requires only standard screening. They also report that there is “little reason for excluding patients with estrogen-responsive tumors from using black cohosh.” In fact, recent laboratory studies, although not yet carried out in humans, suggest that black cohosh may actually protect the breast from developing tumors.

The case for or against the use of phytoestrogens (e.g. soy, red clover, chaste tree berry and flaxseed) in women with breast cancer is not quite as clear as it appears to be for black cohosh. In one of the largest reviews examining soy or red clover for menopausal symptoms, the outcomes were equivalent to placebo. Other studies have shown that they might be beneficial for women with mild to moderate symptoms who start menopause early.  Moreover, while red clover in particular does not appear to affect certain breast cancer risk markers, reports about phytoestrogens in general, especially in estrogen positive cancers is conflicting. Still, the American Cancer Society does not advise against eating soy-rich foods by women who’ve had breast cancer. Some studies have also showed improved prognosis.

If you are wondering if there are any drawbacks, one of the largest challenges is that there are not that many studies looking at herbal medications in women with breast cancer and the ones that do exist are mostly short in duration. The researchers point out that because herbs can take awhile to work, a three month study might be too short to form a conclusion.

Clearly, more study is needed. In the interim, it appears both black cohosh and soy might be safe to try if you’ve had breast cancer. As always, the most important consideration is to speak to a certified practitioner who is well versed in herbal medicine and make sure that she or he works with your oncologist.

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Is black cohosh a flash in the pan?

Posted by on Mar 29, 2010 in bone health, exercise, herbal medicine | 3 comments

I am a true believer of black cohosh, that wonderful herb that for many women, simply stops hot flashes in their tracks. The clinical evidence in support of the effect of black cohosh on symptoms has also been pretty positive, except when it comes to bone health. Admittedly, I’m a bit in the dark on this one because I had never read anything associating the two…until now.

To examine the effect of black cohosh on bone density, researchers randomly assigned 128 postmenopausal to one of three regimens:

1) Six weeks of  highly intensive exercise directed towards protecting bone mass (e.g., strength training, aerobic activity) interspersed with 10 weeks of moderate intensity exercise (e.g. brisk walking)

2) The above program plus 40 mg/day black cohosh

3) Wellness program (light exercise for one hour a week, such as stretching, walking, balance)

Although exercise had a definite and positive effect on bone mineral density, taking black cohosh provided no additional benefit. However, women who were assigned to wellness only did experience a minor decrease in the bone density in their spine compared with women who exercised. Other variables, including lean body mass, heart disease risk and menopausal symptoms, were also favourably impacted by physical activity but again, not by the addition of black cohosh. The study was published in the online edition of Menopause.

Clearly, when it comes to bone density, exercise is the winner. Black cohosh does not appear to add any additional benefits, although it may ultimately prove to enhance any positive effects on menopausal symptoms, especially since previous clinical trials have been favourably in this regard.

Time will only tell. In the interim, keep moving and don’t rely on black cohosh to preserve your bone health.

As always, Reuters Health has done great reporting on this same study. I encourage you to check it out!

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Wednesday Bubble: what’s black and red and so not over?

Posted by on Jan 6, 2010 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

How about black cohosh and red clover?

Naysayers keep bashing both of these herbs for relief of menopausal symptoms. And yet, anecdotal evidence show otherwise; I know quite a number of women who have successfully shut down their flashes and night sweats with standardized black cohosh in particular. For red clover, the results have not been quite as favourable. Still, I say this bubble ain’t over yet.

In the latest study, published in Menopause journal, researchers examined the safety and effectiveness of standardized black cohosh or red clover compared to hormone replacement or placebo in 89 menopausal women with severe hot flashes or night sweats (52 to 71 per week). Participants took one of these compounds for a year.

The results showed that while all women reported improvements, reductions in the frequency of symptoms varied by compound:

Black cohosh 34%
Red clover 57%
Placebo 63%
HRT 94%

However, contrary to previous reports, both black cohosh and red clover were found to be safe.

So, what should you do when it comes to black cohosh or red clover? As always, speak to a health practitioner about your symptoms so that you and she can make an educated decision about therapeutic strategies. Be sure that any herb you try is standardized and manufactured in a reputable facility. Finally, be aware that herbs take much longer than pharmaceuticals to start working so don’t get discouraged. The good news is that both of these products can be safe when used responsibly and under supervision. Nevertheless, like any medication, they can interact with other drugs and other conditions so you need to do your homework wisely.

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Wednesday Bubble: Cool like dat

Posted by on Aug 26, 2009 in hot flash, nightsweats | 3 comments

Hey Ladies! Wondering how to rid yourself of those hot flashes forever? Just a drink of ‘GEM Keep it Cool’, and voila, your hot flashes will disappear! Heck, Marie Osmond swears by it.

Evidently, ‘Keep it Cool’ works on irritability and night sweats as well.

A glance at the nutrition panel shows that ‘Keep it Cool’ contains black cohosh as well as a proprietary blend of adaptogen herbs. ( Adaptogens are agents that theoretically, boost the body’s ability to fight off physical, chemical, or biological stressors by raising its resistance level.) GEM also makes drinks that relieve stress, boost mental acuity, promote bone strength and prevent aging.

If only it were that easy. Cool like dat….not!

One drink a day.

What do you think? This bubble’s bursting so wide that I can hardly stand it.

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