The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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When is black cohosh not black cohosh?

This site has stated that the evidence for using black cohosh to treat the symptoms of menopause is disappointing.

A study in the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry suggests that one reason might be related to the lack of manufacturing standards in the production of this product, which leads to significant variability in the contents of different brands.

Among 11 brands tested, 3 contained an Asian adulterant (Asian Actaea) instead of black cohosh, and 1 contained both genuine black cohosh and the adulterant. For the products containing only black cohosh, there was significant product-to-product variability.

The bottom line?

There are 18 species of Asian Acetaea. Adulteration of black cohosh products with the less costly Chinese Actaea species has be recognized by the American herb industry for more than a decade. For example, in 2005 the AHPA added the Asian Actaea species to its list of potential botanical adulterants.

This problem is not confined to black cohosh. Adulteration is a chronic problem in the herbal supplement industry, as discussed here, here, and here.

7/16/06 10:17 JR; Updated 6/18/15 JR

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