Approximately one in five women will develop uterine fibroids during childbearing years, according to the National Institutes of Health. If you are one of those women, you may have already experienced the pain often associated with the noncancerous tumors. Treatments often involve prescription medications that carry with them potential side effects. Herbalists have used black cohosh medicinally for centuries to treat many gynecological issues such as painful menstruation and menopause. Black cohosh may help treat uterine fibroids, but be sure to consult your physician before use.
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Fibroids occur most commonly in women over 30 and may shrink with menopause. While the cause of fibroid tumors remains a mystery to researchers, the hormone estrogen plays a dominant role in the growth of tumors. As long as a woman continues to menstruate, she will continue to produce estrogen and tumors will likely continue to grow. Fibroids may range in size from smaller than a pea to 6 or more inches in length. Symptoms of fibroids include abdominal fullness, constipation, gas, bleeding between periods, heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic cramping, pain during intercourse, pressure or fullness in the lower abdomen and an increase in urinary frequency.
Black cohosh is a member of the buttercup family. You will most commonly find the tall plant in the shady woods of Eastern North America, and it goes by several names including bugbane, bugwort, squawroot and black snakeroot. Herbalists have used black cohosh medicinally for centuries to treat painful menstruation, night sweats and hot flashes associated with menopause and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. The active ingredients in black cohosh are isoferulic acids, which scientists think contain anti-inflammatory properties, and phytoestrogens, plant based chemicals that act as estrogen in the body.
The use of black cohosh to treat fibroids will produce mixed results just as using any estrogen-based product to treat uterine fibroids. Researchers have conducted insufficient clinical trials to evaluate the effectiveness of black cohosh for the treatment of uterine fibroids. Research does show that introducing extra estrogen into your system, such as with birth control pills, will cause uterine fibroids to grow slightly. However, it will also help alleviate heavy menstrual flow and painful cramping associated with fibroids, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Many women consider the slight growth in fibroids a small price to pay for increasing their level of comfort. However, you should always discuss the use of black cohosh or any herbal remedy with your physician before use.
Individuals who have taken high doses of black cohosh reportedly experienced abdominal pain, headaches, nausea, slow heart rate, joint pain, vomiting, weight gain and visual problems, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Black cohosh may also negatively affect hormone-related illnesses such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and endometriosis and may stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells. Pregnant women should avoid the use of black cohosh as it can stimulate uterine contractions leading to miscarriage or early labor.