Black/Blue CohoshCancerMenopause

Black cohosh has no estrogenic effects on the breast

Black cohosh is an alternative to hormonal therapy to treat hot flashes, mood disturbances, sweating, heart palpitations, and vaginal dryness.

Apparently, this is accomplished in the absence of any “systemic or breast-specific estrogenic effects.” According to researchers from the University of Missouri in Columbia.

First, the details.

  • 2 black cohosh preparations were analyzed for triterpenes (the active component in black cohosh).
    • One contained trace amounts and another contained 2.5% triterpenes.
  • Postmenopausal women were assigned to take one or the other preparation for 12 weeks followed by a 12-week period where they were monitored but took no treatment.

And, the results.

  • Women taking black cohosh with 2.5% triterpenes experienced relief of menopausal symptoms.
  • This product had no effect on estrogenic markers in blood or tissue.

The bottom line?
Dr. Tori Hudson, in her book, “Women’s Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine” tells us that women “with a history of breast cancer or uterine cancer who are now menopausal have questions and concerns about the safety of black cohosh. If estrogen replacement therapy is contraindicated, then what about black cohosh?”

Studies conducted in the laboratory and in animals report a lack of estrogen stimulation. In fact, “the combined effects of tamoxifen [Nolvadex] (an antiestrogen drug used to treat breast cancer) plus black cohosh were even higher than those of the individual substance.”

This latest study in postmenopausal women confirms that the relief of menopausal symptoms associated with taking black cohosh occurs in the absence of estrogenic effects.

The authors caution “triterpene content in commercially available black cohosh preparations varies.”

2/21/08 09:42 JR

Hi, I’m JR

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