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Black Cohosh Questions
By MoonStar

Greetings... have just started taking black cohosh, the one I bought contains licorice and dong quai as well...can someone give me some "laymens" insight into the combination of these three herbs? Taking the BC due to some "change" symptoms I've been experiencing...Many thanks!!! Moonie

Black Cohosh [Cimicifuga racemosa] - also called Black Snakeroot, Bugbane, Rattleroot, Rattleweed, Squawroot It is a herb having a powerful action as a relaxant and a normalizer of the female reproductive system. It may be used beneficially in cases of painful or delayed menstruation, ovarian cramps or cramping pain in the womb. This was a familiar herb used by the Algonquins for the very reasons I mention. It was said in "Folk Wisdom" the root tea was taken in the treatment of rheumatic pains, and also for in muscular and neurological pain. It finds use in sciatica andneuralgia. As a relaxing nervine it may be used in many situations where such an agent is needed. It has been found beneficial in cases of tinnitus.

Despite all of Black Cohosh's benefits there can be risks associated with its use.

Liqorice is a traditional herbal remedy with an ancient history and world-wide usage. Modern research has shown it to have effects upon, amongst other organs, the endocrine system and liver.

Caution: There is a small possibility of effecting electrolyte balance with extended use of large doses of liquorice. It has an ACTH like effect causing retention of sodium thus raising BP.

The whole herb has constituents that counter this but it is best to avoid Liqorice if you have hypertension, kidney disease or during pregnancy.

Dong quai is an aromatic herb that grows in China, Korea, and Japan and is considered an all-purpose woman's tonic herb used for almost every gynecological complaint from regulating the menstrual cycle to treating menopausal symptoms caused by hormonal changes. Dong quai, sometimes called "female ginseng," contains vitamins E, A and B12 is given as a general tonic and energy booster and is said to produce a balancing effect on estrogen activity. Another herb that should never been taken during pregnancy.

Important: Sometimes what we see is not what we get. I always caution anyone to please not medicate themselves but to seek the help of a professional licensed Holistic Practitioner.

Nods in agreement with Lotus. I hate to be a party pooper, but there are various negative connotations with the herbs you mention. It is always wise, when affecting the hormonal system of our bodies, to consult with a professional. Hormones are essential to our systems, even well after menopause. Self-medication that affects our hormones, even for a month, can upset and deregulate the entire system for decades, which can cause more severe issues than you are treating at the moment. Also, for some, menopause isn't about estrogens. For some, it is about progesterones. Most hormone replacements, whether naturopathic, herbal or allopathic, concentrate on the estrogenic decline. We are not all alike, and therefore our personal hormone balance needs to be taken into account before taking what is readily available for the "average" menopause. These herbs are NOT to be taken during pregnancy, to induce labor, or to encourage energy levels during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Black Cohosh has some negative implications when used for menopause issues. It can cause headaches, gastric complaints, heaviness in the legs and weight problems. It has also been noted that liver issues can arise from long term (more than six months) continuous use of black cohosh. Long-term use may adversely affect uterine or breast tissue. No studies have been published on long-term safety in humans, particularly regarding abnormal stimulation of cells in the uterine lining or breast. If you have a family history of breast cancer, it is not advisable to use black cohosh until further long time studies have been done. Licorice root helps with joint and stomach lining issues that are related to the stress hormone cortisol and the adrenal glands. The steroid-like compounds in licorice can change to estradiol and estrone which are estrogen precursors. These give licorice mild estrogenic properties -very helpful during the menopause. Licorice may increase blood pressure and increase water retention.

Long-term intake of licorice root is discouraged and should only be undertaken if prescribed by a qualified health care professional.

Dong Quai, one of the most important of the Chinese tonic herbs, is used as a nourishing blood tonic and to regulate the menstrual cycle. Dong Quai has been used for centuries by Asian healers to balance female hormones and to prevent the troublesome symptoms of menopause and PMS. Clinical research has indicated that Dong Quai also contains antispasmodic compounds that aid in relaxing muscle tissue, explaining its effectiveness in treating menstrual cramps. Unfortunately most of the studies on Dong Quai were carried out in China and are of poor quality. Since there are only very few, and very small, studies done in North America, it is not possible to say how differently Dong Quai reacts to our western diet and lifestyle, or how our western bodies can react to it. Dong Quai may cause sensitivity to the sun.

It is advisable to consult with a trained and registered Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) professional if you feel that you may benefit from the use of Dong Quai for hormonal purposes. This professional will be able to determine for you whether it suits your Chi and general constitution.


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