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Black Cohosh: The Native American ‘Miracle Herb’ For Women’s Health

black cohosh -- herbalheresyDOTcomYou may be familiar with black cohosh, Cimicifuga racemosa. But do you know blue cohosh, Caulophyllum thalictroides?

Both are woodland plants which have been used for centuries by Native Americans and herbalists for women’s health and more. While they are completely different plants, black and blue cohosh were traditionally used together. The roots are the most commonly used parts of both plants which have been employed medicinally. Do not gather plants from the wild, as both species are classified as at-risk. Consider growing them in a woodland garden.

Black Cohosh Relieves Discomfort

Black cohosh is a lovely flowering plant which has been the subject of extensive scientific research. It has been prescribed by mainstream health care providers in Europe for over 50 years as a remedy for menopause, premenstrual syndrome and painful menstruation. The herb is a safe and effective alternative for hormone replacement therapy for menopausal symptoms. Black cohosh relieves hot flashes, palpitations, anxiety, excess perspiration, irritability and insomnia. It enhances the strength of pelvic floor muscles, relieves bloating and decreases vaginal dryness. Black cohosh relieves symptoms of endometriosis and may inhibit the growth of cancerous lesions. The herb should be used consistently for six months in order to reach maximum effectiveness, although many benefits occur within a few weeks of starting therapy.

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While black cohosh is most commonly recognized as an aid for women’s health, it is useful for men and women who suffer from arthritic and muscular pain. The herb relieves the pain of sciatica and bursitis, and also can help to preserve bone density.

Native Americans Employed Black Cohosh for Labor

Depressed woman tired of preparing meals.Black cohosh has traditionally been employed late in pregnancy to support childbirth. It stimulates labor, relieves irritability, decreases back pain, and supports a woman’s energy during labor and delivery. Black cohosh should never be used until the ninth month of pregnancy, as it may cause miscarriage. Do not use black cohosh during pregnancy except under the supervision of a qualified health care provider.

Using Black Cohosh

Prepare black cohosh using the decoction method. Make a decoction of the roots by simmering one teaspoonful of dried herb per cup of water for 20 minutes. Keep the pot covered while the decoction is simmering. After 20 minutes, discard or compost the roots. Drink one to three cups of the tea each day. If you prefer to use a tincture, take one-fourth to 1 milliliter three times daily. Black cohosh should not be used while breastfeeding. Do not use black cohosh if you have a history of breast or gynecological cancers without advice from a qualified health care practitioner. It may be used in conjunction with hormone replacement medications, but I do not recommend that they be used simultaneously without advice from a practitioner who is knowledgeable about both types of therapies.

Some people experience gastrointestinal disturbances when they use black cohosh. Excessive amounts may cause headaches, dizziness, visual disturbances and low blood pressure. The herb may stimulate perimenopausal bleeding in some women.

Blue Cohosh was Formerly Known as Papoose Root

Blue cohosh is a woodland plant with greenish-yellow flowers. It was traditionally employed by Native Americans and herbalists for short-term use. The herb is a powerful uterine stimulant which was traditionally employed to strengthen contractions during labor. It improves blood flow to the pelvis and relieves menstrual cramps. The herb was traditionally used to treat women who had absent or irregular menses. Some herbalists use blue cohosh as a remedy for PMS and ovarian pain. It relieves fluid retention and can lower fevers. The herb has pain-relieving properties which reduce discomfort related to arthritis.

Use of Blue Cohosh Is not Recommended

I do not recommend the use of blue cohosh at this time, despite its long history of use. The seeds of the plant are poisonous. The herb may cause congestive heart failure in newborns. It can cause miscarriage. It can raise blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Further research needs to be conducted to evaluate the safety of blue cohosh.

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Buyer Beware

I recommend the use of black cohosh as a powerful remedy for women’s health issues and pain which is due to inflammation. I believe that black cohosh is a much safer alternative to hormone replacement therapy. Black cohosh is a valuable treatment option for women who suffer from menstrual or menopausal distress.

Unfortunately, some herbal manufacturers have contaminated black cohosh products by including blue cohosh in their products and falsely identifying blue cohosh as black cohosh. This is a case of deliberate deception, as the species are not even related.

If you don’t grow your own herbs, purchase them from individuals and companies you trust. Avoid the use of cheap or imported herbs. And whenever possible, opt for organic sources.

Have you ever used black cohosh? Share your thoughts on this herb in the section below:

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