Women with hot flashes related to menopause are unlikely to find relief with the herbal supplement black cohosh — alone or in combination with other herbal therapies — according to a report released this week.
“We were disappointed by the findings,” said Dr. Katherine M. Newton in a news release, “because many women want an alternative to hormone therapy and many have assumed that black cohosh is a safe, effective choice.”
Newton, the principal investigator of the study which appears in the Annals of Internal Medicine this week, and colleagues from the Group Health Cooperative in Seattle studied 351 menopausal women, between the ages of 45 and 55, experiencing at least two hot flashes or night sweats each day.
The women were randomly assigned to one of five treatment groups: 160 milligrams of black cohosh daily; a multi-botanical supplement containing 200 milligrams black cohosh and 9 other herbal ingredients including alfalfa, pomegranate and Siberian ginseng; a multi-botanical supplement plus increased soy consumption; hormone therapy (estrogen with or without progestin); or inactive ‘placebo’ capsules.
After 3, 6, and 12 months, black cohosh was no better than placebo in reducing the frequency or severity of hot flashes or night sweats, the team found. The same was true for the other herbal products.