Vitamin Expert

Black Cohosh

(cimicifuga racemosa)

Botanical family: Ranunculaceae
Parts used: Roots, rhizome
Main active constituents: Isoflavones, glycosides, salicylic acid
Actions: Anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, hormonal tonic, relieves spasms
Good for: Menopausal symptoms
Available forms: Capsules, tablets, tincture

Black cohosh, also known as black snakeroot or squaw root, is native to North America. It is a member of the buttercup family and grows in clumps that can be as high as four to seven feet. It produces beautiful spikes of white fragrant flowers in the summer.

History of Black cohosh

Black cohosh has been used for centuries for rheumatism, yellow fever, snakebites, kidney problems as well as a long list of gynaecological problems. It was used to treat smallpox by the early settlers and by the beginning of the 19th century had become popular in Europe, especially as a remedy for menopausal symptoms.

Current uses of Black cohosh


Studies have shown that black cohosh can help to reduce hot flushes, night sweats, disturbed sleep, mood swings, depression and anxiety. It is not known exactly how black cohosh works but it is thought that the root tubers contain plant substances that can help to balance hormones.


Black cohosh can help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis and rheumatic conditions. Its anti-spasmodic properties an also help to ease cramps and restless muscles.

How to take it

At least 6.5mg (standardised dry extract) should be taken daily.
Black cohosh can be taken with other supplements and there is no evidence that it interacts with prescribed medications at the recommended dosage.
Benefits should be felt after a few weeks.
Some herbalists recommend that black cohosh should not be taken continuously for more than six months.

Try this

Black Cohosh can be found in MenoHerb Black Cohosh Menopause Relief (a traditional herbal medicinal product used for the relief of symptoms of the menopause, such as hot flushes, night sweats, and temporary changes in mood, such as nervous irritability and restlessness, based on traditional use only) and, together with St John’s wort, in MenoMood Menopause Mood Relief (a traditional herbal medicinal product used for the relief of symptoms of the menopause including hot flushes, night sweats, slightly low mood and mild anxiety, based on traditional use only).


Black cohosh should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
You should not take black cohosh if you have suffered from an oestrogen-dependent tumour such as breast cancer.
If you suffer from liver failure or have had jaundice, hepatitis or cirrhosis, you should only take black cohosh after talking to your doctor or pharmacist.