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What Is Black Cohosh?

Black cohosh, also known as squaw root, black snake root, and rattle weed, is a North American woodland plant growing 4-7 ft and bearing long 2 ft bottlebrush spikes of brilliant, white flowers in summer. The rhizome, a traditional Native American remedy for menstrual matters and menopause, is now regarded as a valuable herb for problems of the female reproductive system.

Black cohosh eases cramping in the ovaries or uterus. It may also be helpful to ease premenstrual symptoms, painful menstruation, and menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, especially when combined with St John's wort.

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 80 menopausal women compared 8 mg/day of a black cohosh extract with placebo or conjugated estrogens. At 12 weeks, scores on the Kupperman index and the Hamilton anxiety scale were significantly lower in the treated groups than in the placebo group; the scores of participants using black cohosh were somewhat better than the scores of those receiving the estrogen treatment. Daily hot flashes decreased from 4.9 to 0.7 in the black cohosh group, 5.2 to 3.2 in the estrogen group, and 5.1 to 3.1 in the placebo group.

A decoction or tincture (60 drops of black cohosh tincture in 2 tablespoons of water three times a day), or externally as a liniment can help relieve neuralgia, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and muscular pain.

Caution: The dosage should be carefully adhered to. Not to be used during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

Black cohosh supplements are available at www.online-vitamins.net.

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