Black Cohosh a Bust for Hot Flashes
Millions of women have taken black cohosh to reduce hot flashes and other menopause-related symptoms, but the most rigorous study of the herbal supplement ever conducted shows no evidence that it works.
WebMD News Archive
Dec. 18, 2006 -- Millions of women have taken black cohosh to reduce hot
flashes and other menopause-related
symptoms, but the most rigorous study of the herbal supplement ever conducted
shows no evidence that it works.
The federally funded trial was designed to compare black cohosh to other
herbal supplements, traditional hormone therapy, and placebo treatment for
Hormone therapy was the only treatment that clearly reduced hot flashes,
night sweats, and other related symptoms.
The study appears in the Dec. 19 issue of the journal Annals of Internal
"Our finding that black cohosh did not work will be disappointing news
to many women," researcher Katherine M. Newton, PhD, tells WebMD. "It
would be nice to find a clearly effective alternative to hormone
Looking for Alternatives
Most women experience hot flashes and related symptoms around the time of
menopause, which typically occurs between ages 45 and 55.
Hormone therapy involving estrogen or estrogen plus progestin is very
effective for reducing hot flashes, but concerns about safety have caused
millions of women to abandon the treatment.
Those concerns appeared to be bolstered late last week with the news of a
dramatic drop in breast cancers among American women.
Although the reason for the drop is not yet clear, many experts speculate
that it is related to the decline in hormone use following the 2002 publication
of the Women's Health Initiative study, which found an increase in both breast
cancers and heart problems among users.
Many symptomatic women turned to black cohosh and other herbal supplements
when they stopped taking hormones, but few well-designed clinical trials have
been done evaluating the effectiveness of these products.