Black Cohosh, Cimicifuga racemosa, has been used historically as a female tonic.
This tall perennial shrub is native to North America and its roots have been used traditionally for their medicinal properties.
The effects of black cohosh root preparations appear to come from phytoestrogen components such as isoflavones and cimicifugoside, although recent research has cast some doubt on these proposed mechanisms.
Black Cohosh has been used for a range of female conditions such as premenstrual discomfort, dysmenorrhea and uterine spasms. It is perhaps best known and used for symptoms associated with menopause. The root extract is "Approved" under German Commission E for dysmenorrhea, PMS complaints and menopausal symptoms.
Canadian Government regulations require Black Cohosh products to be labeled "Caution: Do not consume during pregnancy" due to its affect on the hormones and uterus.
Black Cohosh has been used successfully to control menopausal symptoms in a high percentage of women. It may need to be taken for several weeks before benefits are noticed. It is often found in an extract form called Remifemin, available from health food stores.
Black cohosh is reported to have estrogen-like effects and may enhance estrogen's role in the body, such as reducing the breakdown of bone; more research is needed to determine the value of this use.