Quarterly Review of Natural Medicine, Spring 1996
Dr. N. Beuscher
Reference: Zeitschrift fur Phytotherapie 1995; 16: 301-310
Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) is a medicinal plant that came to modern phytotherapy from folk medicine by way of homeopathy. This plant can be found over most of the Northern Hemisphere. To protect the natural resources of this plant, it would be expedient to meet the industry's demand using controlled cultivation. The dried root, having lost the unappetizing odor of the fresh plant, is used for medicinal purposes.
The constituents of black cohosh that give it its value are triterpenoid glycosides, specifically the xylosides actein and cimifugoside. The determination of efficacy and value occurs by establishing the total amount of triterpenoid glycosides.
Preparations of the drug have characteristics similar to those of hormones, where the estrogen-like active constituent is especially dominant. Formononetin is a competitive ligand in the estrogen receptor assay and binds ex vivo to the uterus of oophorectomized rats. Anti-inflammatory, hypoglycemic and hypotensive effects were measured using animal experiments. Extracts made from C. racemosa have no toxic or mutagenic characteristics. The therapeutic efficacy of various preparations has been verified a number of times in either placebo-controlled trials or in comparison with hormone therapy. The neurovegetative symptoms of menopause were quickly and lastingly improved with only occasional side effects to the gastrointestinal system.