The benefits of black cohosh as a substitute for hormone replacement therapy
As a phytoestrogenic herb black cohosh is capable of introducing plant like human hormones into the body. The loss of hormones can occur in women in pre and post menopausal stage of life. For women suffering from some of the painful and embarrassing symptoms of menopause such a process is often an invaluable alternative to hormone replacement therapy. As an artificial means of addressing the hormone imbalance in the body hormone replacement and estrogen replacement therapy carry with them a host of harmful side effects. It is this reason that often discourages women to undergo this artificial means of curbing the symptoms of menopause. As natural alternative to hormone replacement black cohosh is increasingly used by women to counter the effects of menopause. The phytoestrogenioc herb isn't without its own harmful side effects however.
Studies have identified phytoestrogens as the key to the positive benefits of black cohosh in the treatment of menopause symptoms. Despite being found to be much weaker than natural human produced hormone, the estrogen in plants has been shown to react with the body's estrogenic receptors in different ways. Such reactions vary between person and person and even between men and women. The main 3 groups of phytoestrogens are: isoflavones, coumestans and lignans and research has found this component capable of helping the harmful effects of a multitude of ailments.
Studies have shown that the exact effects of estrogen replacement therapy differ depending on the region of the world. The Chung study in Asia found that the process does not reduce the occurrence of hot flashes in Asian women. In addition to this estrogen replacement therapy can include some notable harmful side effects, including an increased risk of contracting breast cancer. In comparison studies testing the effectiveness of black cohosh in curbing the occurrence and the severity of hot flashes have show it to help with this symptom. Placebo based studies have shown black cohosh to help to differing degrees in the treatment of sweating, hot flashes and sleep disorders.
The benefits of phytoestrogenic herbs such as black cohosh extend far beyond the treatment of menopause symptoms. The compounds in most phytoestrogenic herbs also prevent the contraction of some cancers by acting as an anticarcinogenic. Prescription of black cohosh in this regard is not recommended, but studies have found it to be capable in this regard. Despite its side effect many women find phytoestrogenic herbs such as black cohosh a less dangerous alternative to hormone replacement therapy.
JAMA - The Journal of the American Medical Association - Arch Intern Med. 2001;161:1161-1172.