Did You Know?
Black Cohosh has a long history of use for women. It was known as Squaw-weed by Native Americans who used it for their women; and as early as 1849, it was noted in a Report on the Indigenous Medicinal Plants of South Carolina, written up in The Transactions of the American Medical Association, Volume 2, as being “used in the debility of females attendant upon uterine disorder, and in its action, is thought to have a special affinity for this organ.”
A trial publicised in 2003 purported to show that Black Cohosh might increase the risk of breast cancer in women who were susceptible. The trial was carried out on mice bred to be susceptible to breast cancer. As mouse physiognomy varies enormously from that of humans (as you may have noticed), especially when it comes to hormone receptor sites, the results of this trial were a very bad indication of what happens in humans. Trials done on humans show that Black Cohosh does not promote breast cancer in women and may have a protective role against oestrogenic proliferation of breast cancer cells.
And the moral of the story is: are you a (wo)man or a mouse?
Another trial published in 2003 compared Black Cohosh to conjugated oestrogen therapy for menopausal symptoms. They had very similar beneficial effects, improving vaginal dryness (which reduces the risk of vaginal infection), hot flushes, periods of wakefulness and early waking. Black Cohosh also reduced bone and muscle pain.
Ref: Wuttke W, Seidlova-Wuttke D, Gorkow C. Dept of Clinical and Experimental Endocrinology, University of Gottingen, Germany. Maturitas 2003: 44 (Suppl 1): 67-77.