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What is black cohosh?

Black cohosh, also known by the Latin names Actaea racemosa and Cimicifuga racemosa, is a perennial plant native to North America. This plant, member of the buttercup family, is also known by the names snakeroot, bugbane, rattleweed and rattletop.

This herb is sold as a dietary supplement in the United States and it is used to alleviate the problems associated with the menopause. It is also used for treating PMS and other gynecological issues. Native Americans have used this herb to cure sore throat, kidney problems and depression.

The problem with this herbal supplement is the same as with many other supplements, they are not FDA regulated. This means that there is no guarantee the supplement contains the necessary amount of the herb and it may contain harmful contaminants.

Although black cohosh has been proven effective by many women who have used it, there are also reports on its side effects, which are listed below.

Side effects of black cohosh

Clinical trials performed on black cohosh have shown that it is generally safe, highly tolerable and with mild and mostly reversible side effects. The most common side-effects are dizziness, nausea and vomiting. Seizures, diarrhea, weight loss, constipation, sweating and low blood pressure were also reported.

There were a few cases of liver damage due to the consumption of black cohosh supplements. Even though this has not been clinically confirmed, some countries, like Australia, have added the warning to the label of all the products containing this herb and advised to consult a doctor before taking it, especially for people who already have liver problems.

Recent studies and trials have also shown that frequent use of black cohosh may inhibit estrogen levels, which is why pregnant women must consult their physician before starting this supplement.

Therefore, the side effects of this herbal supplement are not serious and not very common. However, there is another problem with black cohosh, and it concerns its production. It is very important to choose a brand of supplements that is trustworthy and that formulated under strict GMP compliance.

Also, some manufacturers do not use standardized extract of pure black cohosh and instead use ingredients that are much cheaper. Supplements that are produced this way are not only less effective, but they may also contain other ingredients that are not beneficial for human health.

Unfortunately, manufacturers do not have to guarantee the content or the effectiveness of their supplements. That way they can produce a supplement that contains too little black cohosh, which is ineffective, or too much, which is dangerous.

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