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Black Cohosh

Natural health supplements sometimes have unexpected side effects or interactions with medication that can lead to adverse reactions that are sometimes life threatening. The following is a list of things that you should be aware of before using Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa). These are referred to as drug/herb interactions.

Warning 1 - Contraindications: Pregnancy and lactation.

Warning 2 - Antihypertensives: Black Cohosh may increase the action of antihypertensives.

Warning 3 - Oral Contraceptives: Black Cohosh may increase the effect and side effects of oral contraceptives.

Warning 4 - Hormone replacement therapy: Black Cohosh may alter the effects of other hormone replacement therapy.

Warning 5 - Sedative hypnotics: May increase hypotensive effects lowering blood pressure.

Used as a natural health remedy: Black Cohosh is used internally for the following benefits and conditions:
  • Dymenorrhea
  • Menopause (See other herbs for menopause)
  • Natural alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • Premenstrual tension (PMS)
  • Menopause (See other herbs for menopause)
  • Reduce bone loss (osteoporosis)
  • Reduce depression
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Reduce hot flashes - does NOT work, see http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/dec2006/nia-18.htm
  • Reduce menopausal symptoms; vaginal thinning and dryness
  • Tinnitus

Side Effects of Black Cohosh

  1. gastric discomfort
  2. dizziness
  3. nervous system and visual disturbancs
  4. hypotension
  5. bradycardia
  6. increased perspiration (sweating)
Although liver damage has been reported in a few individuals using black cohosh, many women have taken the herb without reporting any adverse health effects.

While studies of black cohosh have not conclusively shown a connection to liver damage, Australia has added a warning to the label of all products containing black cohosh, stating that it may cause harm to the liver in some individuals and should not be used without medical supervision.

Other side effects may also occur when taking Black Cohosh internally. (See form below)

As with any herb, a serious allergic reaction is possible. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction. These may include a rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, or trouble breathing.

Return to the Herb List.

For questions and answers about the side effects of herbs see the Herb Forum

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This consumer advocate website is protected by copyright 2011-2012 Askdocweb, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This is a layman's report on Black Cohosh and is not intended to replace discussions with a health care provider. Do not use the information on this forum as a substitute for your doctor's advice. Always consult your doctor before taking any drug and follow your doctor's directions. Source material: Food and Drug Administration, Medline, Physician's Desk Reference, and the largest community of people in the world, those who are concerned about side effects and healthcare.
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