Actea racemosa, Cimicifuga racemosa
Part of the plant used: roots and rhizomas
Black cohosh is a perennial plant found along the edge of North American forests, from Ontario to Tennessee, west of Missouri. The plant can reach 8 feet high and carries, from June to September, a long white flowerhead. The roots and rhizomes are used for their medicinal properties.
Black cohosh is not a well-known plant. It appears to contain estrogenic constituents, and some have feared that it could promote the proliferation of some cancerous cells with estrogenic receptors. However, scientific evidence has shown that black cohosh can inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells and some recent studies allow to doubt that the estrogenic effect is not the major mode of action. It also appears to enhance tamoxifen's anticarcinogenic effect. This information leads us to believe that black cohosh is not contraindicated in women with a history of breast cancer.
20 to 80 mg twice daily of a standardized extract (containing 1 mg of triterpen per 20 mg).
There is insufficient reliable information to conclude that black cohosh is effective in any other indication.
During fall 2006, Health Canada has warned Canadians about a possible link between liver damage and consumption of herbal products containing black cohosh. Definite link has not been established and reported cases are rare. Caution is advised.
In 2004, Canada adopted new regulations that control the manufacturing, packaging, labeling and importing of natural health products. The new regulations also include an adverse reaction reporting system. Products that conform to the regulation's criteria are identified with a natural product number (NPN) and can be legally sold in Canada. This number indicates that the product meets specific criteria for safety and purity, not that it is effective for any indication.
Medicinal plant contents vary naturally from plant to plant - just as fruits from the same package may vary in taste and texture. There is no standard to measure the active content of each plant. Thus, efficacy of natural products should be expected to vary from brand to brand as well as from bottle to bottle of the same brand.
For more information about the Natural Health Products Regulations, or to check if a product has been assessed, visit the Health Canada website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/index-eng.php.
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