Can Alternative Treatments, like Black Cohosh, Really Relieve Menopause Symptoms?

Updated: Jun 18, 2020

A group of researchers from the Oregon Evidence-based Practice Center lead by Dr Anne Nedrow performed an investigation about the efficacy of alternative medicine because its use is becoming more popular among women to relieve menopause symptom. They focused the investigation to found out what menopausal women think about herbal supplements, like black cohosh, which is the most extended selection of alternative treatments.

information about herbal supplements

Most American women prefer some kind of alternative treatment for maintaining estrogen balanced, so they can reduce the severity menopausal symptoms. Women look for help to relieve the most common menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and sleep disorders.

But women are switching to alternative treatments because they do not want to take the risk of using conventional therapies such as Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) treatments or taking BioIdentical hormones as these may increase the probability of several types of cancers and other disorders. But also, women feel that alternative therapies are effective, safer, and less expensive than conventional treatments.

Among the several types of alternative medicine, the most popular choice is the use of herbal supplements such as black cohosh, soy, red clover among others. And the preferred type of supplements is the one called phytoestrogens herbs. These types of herbs are known as phytoestrogens because they contain estrogen-like substances. In fact, phytoestrogens may help reduce the severity of menopause symptoms. However, it is uncertain whether this relief comes from actual estrogens or from other compounds in the plant.

The researchers tried to prove if these supplements can really work and help menopausal women. They discovered that menopausal women think that these phytoestogenic supplements, especially those made of black cohosh, are natural and very effective. But also, she discovered that American women believe that these products are regulated by the government and the FDA. Also, Dr. Nedrow's investigation showed that menopausal women really think that the claims of products like black cohosh have scientific evidence.

Nonetheless, the investigators noticed that the supposed benefits of black cohosh, which include increasing estrogen levels, reducing hot flashes, decreasing the risk of breast cancer among other benefits, are not completely accurate. In fact, these claims do not count with proper scientific evidence. Most of these “health benefits” are just practical uses from traditional medicine. In other words, these statements come from believes instead being results from scientific studies.

In fact, some of these products have safety issues. Medical trials have confirmed that the prolonged use of black cohosh may produce dangerous side effects. But also, some of these products have been found to be contaminated, contain unlabeled ingredients, or have different amounts of ingredients than are listed on the label. That is the reason why Dr. Nedrow states that: “Natural” does not automatically mean “safe”.

It is important for women who are considering or using alternative therapies for any health reason to discuss them with their health care provider. This is to help ensure safety and a comprehensive treatment plan.