Black Cohosh Health Benefits
Black cohosh health benefits include activity against prostate cancer and a possible ability to lower estrogen levels in men. Traditionally, black cohosh remedies were used to treat kidney disorders, gynecological conditions, cough, malaria, and constipation.
As a member of the buttercup family, black cohosh (Actaea racemosa, formerly Cimicifuga racemosa) is a perennial plant native to North America. Black cohosh health benefits seem to be focused in the roots and rhizomes, from which remedies are made.
Research has identified a substance called fukinolic acid as having estrogenic activity in vitro. (Kruse 1999) The herb also contains other active compounds, including triterpene glycosides, resins, and isoferulic acid. (Mills 2000) Black cohosh is also believed to contain phytoestrogens, which may help reduce estrogen in the body. (University of Maryland)
Black cohosh health benefits may extend to the prostate gland as well. At the University of Gottingen, scientists evaluated the impact of black cohosh extract on human prostate cancer cells in mice. Following inoculation with 1 million prostate cancer cells, 12 of 18 mice developed tumors, while only 5 of 18 mice treated with black cohosh developed tumors. The tumors in the five treated mice were significantly smaller than those in the nontreated mice. (Seidlova-Wuttke 2006)
In a subsequent study at the University of Gottingen, investigators isolated a substance called petasiphenone from black cohosh. In the lab, they found that petasiphenone inhibited growth of human prostate cancer cells. (Jarry 2007)
Black cohosh extracts are standardized to contain triterpene saponins, which typically appears on the label as 26-deoxyactein. Men who want to explore black cohosh health benefits should consult their doctor before taking the supplement.
Jarry H et al. Petasiphenone, a phenol isolated from Cimicifuga racemosa, in vitro inhibits proliferation of the human prostate cancer cell line LNaP. Planta Med 2007 Feb; 73(2): 184-87
Kruse SO et al. Fukiic and piscidic acid esters from the rhizome of Cimicifuga racemosa and the in vitro estrogenic activity of fukinolic acid. Planta Medica 65: 763-764, 1999.
Mills S, Bone K. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2000: 303-9.
Seidlova-Wuttke D et al. Inhibitory effects of a black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) extract on prostate cancer. Planta Med 2006 May; 72(6): 521-26