Black/Blue CohoshCancer

Combining black cohosh with tamoxifen in breast cancer therapy

Anti-hormonal therapy of breast cancer patients with the anti-estrogen tamoxifen (Nolvadex) often induces or aggravates menopausal complaints.

Researchers at the University Hospital, in Zurich, Switzerland measured the response to black cohosh.

First, the details.

  • 50 breast cancer patients taking tamoxifen were treated with an isopropanolic extract of black cohosh (1-4 tablets, 2.5 mg) for 6 months.
  • Patients recorded their complaints before and after 1, 3, and 6 months of therapy using the menopause rating scale (MRS II).
  • All patients had surgery, most had undergone radiation therapy (87%), and approximately 50% had received chemotherapy.

And, the results.

  • The reduction of the total MRS II score under black cohosh treatment from 18 to 14 was statistically significant.
  • Hot flashes, sweating, sleep problems, and anxiety improved.
  • Urogenital and musculoskeletal complaints did not change.
  • 90% reported the tolerability of the black cohosh extract as very good or good.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Black cohosh extract seems to be a reasonable treatment approach in tamoxifen treated breast cancer patients with predominantly psychovegetative (eg, sleep) symptoms.”

Too bad they didn’t include a placebo group.

1/25/11 21:34 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.