Benefits of Black Cohosh for PMS – How To Take Black Cohosh For Menstrual Pain Relief
Many women suffer every month from a multitude of menstrual symptoms caused by pre-menstrual syndrome. There are also many possible remedies for these problems with several of them responding to herbal remedies.
With that in mind can black cohosh help pms?
If so how does black cohosh help with pms?
Some of the menstrual problems that might respond to black cohosh include migraine, menstrual cramps, stop menstrual bleeding, period irregularities, and period pain.
What is this herb and how does black cohosh work for pms?
Black cohosh is an herb that is native to North America and is part of the buttercup family of herbs. This flowering plant family has over 1700 to 2000 different member species many of which are known for their medicinal qualities. It is found in these environments: lake shores, bogs, ox-bows and pools and bogs in the artic and polar areas. Other members of this family are Hydrasis, Goldenseal, anemones and hellebores.
Black cohosh grows in the Midwest, Ohio River Valley and the northeast of the United States. However no matter where you live in the US you can grow it in your garden or buy it in your grocery store. It also goes by the names “black snake root”, “bugbane” and “squaw root” as it is the root of the black cohosh that is used medicinally. It is a very tall flowering plant that has very dark, knotted roots and soft white flowers.
So how can this fairly common herb help with certain symptoms of pms and how should it be taken to affect this remedy?
It is considered to work well in the relief of menstrual cycle pain, cramping, excessive bleeding, unusual or abnormal bleeding and headaches. Native Americans have used it for over two centuries as a pain killer for muscle pain and as a natural non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. They treated menstrual cramps, mood swings, sleep disturbance and menopausal hot flashes. Women of all ethnicities have used it for centuries as a pain killer. Black cohosh is widely used in Europe and has been for the last forty years. Germany has formally approved it for menopause, premenstrual syndrome and the pain of menstruation.
So why does black cohosh help menstrual cramps? What are black cohosh uses for period pain?
Most of the problems that women experience during their periods are caused by the hormonal imbalance that takes place in the stages of the menstrual cycle prior to “bleeding period”. In the premenstrual stage a couple of weeks before her period a woman starts to produce large quantities of estrogen than normal. In the nest stage – the Follicular stage – a large amount of estrogen is produced and the hormonal imbalance that everyone talks about comes into full sway. This causes bloating, water retention, cramping, headaches and migraines, back pain and mood swings.
This stage ends when ovulation begins. A woman’s breasts can be very tender during this stage. The cramping is caused by contractions and spasms of the uterus. This is followed by the Luteal stage in which progesterone in large amounts is released into the system while the amounts of estrogen are reduced. This continues the hormonal imbalance but opposite of what happens in the Follicular stage. Ovulation occurs in this stage.
When this stage is complete and the bleeding period stage begins most of the hormonal imbalance is rectified. Most of the bloat and water retention is eliminated with the bleeding as well. The hormonal imbalance between estrogen and progesterone that goes on in the first three stages is the cause of the headaches, bloat and water retention and the abdominal cramping and mood swings.
So let’s look at how to take black cohosh for pms users and what are the benefits for pms and what are the doses for pms relief?
Black cohosh seems to be a phytoestrogen that acts very much like estrogen in your body and so in stage luteal it knocks out progesterone and causes a balance among the hormones to be restored. It is often referred to as a hormone equalizer. Black cohosh is also known to relax the muscles so as to relieve the cramping that comes from uterus. If you take black cohosh every day during your cycle there will be less mood swings and they will be less severe. There will be less depression and it will be less severe. There will be less lethargy and it will be less severe. It becomes even more effective when it is combined with other herbs such as wild willow bark or wild yam roots, especially for women who struggle with stomach upset from NSAIDs (Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs) including aspirin. It also can be used to counteract the side effects of HRT (hormone replacement theory).
There have been many clinical studies documenting the effects of black cohosh in respect to menopause. “Quite a few clinical studies confirm that the use of black cohosh is effective for improving menopausal symptoms, although some have found no improvement. Early German studies found black cohosh improved physical and psychological menopausal symptoms, including anxiety, hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.
In a clinical study of 120 women with the menopausal symptoms, black cohosh was more effective in relieving hot flashes and night sweats than the antidepressant fluxetine (Prozac).
Given the results of most clinical studies, many experts conclude that black cohosh may be a safe and effective alternative for women who cannot or will not take hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) for menopause. A 2010 review by researchers found that black cohosh provided a 26% reduction in hot flashes and night sweats, also known as vasomotor symptoms.” (www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/black-cohosh-000226.htm)
“Study results are mixed on whether black cohosh effectively relieves menopausal symptoms. An NCCAM-funded study found that black cohosh, whether used alone or with other botanicals, failed to relieve hot flashes and night sweats in postmenopausal women or those approaching menopause. Most studies to date have been less than 6 months long, so the safety of long-term use is uncertain. NCCAM is funding studies to further understand the potential effects of black cohosh on hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.” (nccam.nih.gov/blackcohosh/ataglance.htm)
“The neurotransmitter GABA, which has a calming effect on nerves and muscles, significantly increases in response to black cohosh, according to a study published in the December 2010 issue of "Journal of Natural Products." At least four chemical compounds in black cohosh activated the neurotransmitter. The researchers of the study, conducted at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, concluded that their results indicate that modulation of GABA may be one of the beneficial effects of black cohosh.” (www.livestrong.com/article/362102-black-cohosh-studies/)
However there have not been the same kinds of studies documenting the effectiveness of black cohosh in respect to menstruation. What we know about this comes from anecdotal stories and feedback from women. However what you do have to assume is if black cohosh is effective for menopausal women in the area of anxiety and mood changes, hydration (night sweats) and pain that it would be effective for mood swings, fluid retention and pain during the menstrual cycle. It is also known to regulate irregular bleeding cycles though no studies have confirmed the anecdotal stories.
How should you use black cohosh, at what dosage for pms and is there anything you should worry about when doing so?
Most experts in the field of homeopathy and herbology recommend that black cohosh is best infused as a tea. It is also best that you make your tea from fresh roots and not dried herbs. Take your black cohosh roots and wash them then cut them lengthwise while letting them dry. Place them on your mortar and crush them into a fine powder. Place ½ to 1 tsp. of the powdered black cohosh and add a cup of water. Allow this to boil then turn down the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
You should drink this tea at least 3 times a day during the premenstrual, follicular and luteal stages of the cycle. You can also purchase black cohosh capsules and they are usually recommended to be taken three times a day as well. You can also add your black cohosh fresh powder to your warm bath in order to alleviate back pain.
There are however a few precautions when using black cohosh. First of all it is not to be confused with blue cohosh. Blue cohosh is different from the black cohosh in its properties, side effects and uses. They can be used together to stimulate labor but not for any other reason. Black cohosh is known at times to produce headaches and stomach upsets in the women who use it.
There is also a concern about long term use in respect to liver failure. If a woman has a liver concern she should not use it at all. They are not major concerns unless there is a pre-existing liver issue. They are just precautions to look out for and certainly do not outweigh the multitude of good uses of black cohosh for pms symptoms.
With only minor side effects or concerns and a multitude of anecdotal evidence that it relieves the cramping, headaches and change of emotion, black cohosh is worth the risk.