There is some research that supports the safety and efficacy of using black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) extract to relieve menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats. The substance has been used in Germany for the past 50 years for menopausal symptoms, and even for menstrual symptoms. A 12-week long, double-blind, randomized, multi-center study involving 304 women with menopausal symptoms appeared in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology (2005; 105(5 Pt 1): 1074-83). Subjects were given 40 mg of black cohosh extract (standardized 5 mg isopropanolic extract) each day.
According to scores on the Menopause Rating Scale, the group receiving the standardized black cohosh extract fared much better than the placebo group. The extract seemed especially effective in treating hot flashes. There were no adverse effects to the supplementation.
Research appearing in the Journal of Women's Health (1998;7(5):525-529) compared black cohosh extract to conjugated estrogen as well as placebo. The group receiving the black cohosh had a notable increase in the proliferation of vaginal epithelium?even outperforming the conjugated estrogen. Black cohosh has been used to reduce genital pain. The group receiving the black cohosh also had improved scores in the Menopausal Index and the Hamilton Anxiety Scale score.
A combination of black cohosh and St. John's Wort was used in research appearing in Obstetrics and Gynecology (2006; 107(2 Part 1): 247-55). In a randomized, double-blind placebo controlled study, the subjects were 301 women with depression, as well as menopausal symptoms. Utilizing the Menopause Rating Scale, there was a 50% reduction of symptoms in the treatment group, compared to just under 20% in the placebo group. The treatment group had a 41.8% reduction in the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale score compared to 12.7% in the placebo group.