St. John’s wort and black cohosh may alleviate menopausal symptoms.

Date:

10-Feb-2006

Source

NEJM

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Black Cohosh Menopause
Professional Data: Black Cohosh Menopause

Article

By definition, menopause is the transition period between the reproductive years of a woman's life and the cessation of ovarian function. Unless brought about by surgery or other causes, natural changes in a woman's body generally occur between the ages of 35 and 50. Menopausal symptoms are unique to each individual, both in duration and in intensity.

Many women associate the years of menopausal symptoms with the term itself. However, menopause marks the permanent fall in production of estrogen and cessation of the menstrual cycle. It is during perimenopause that most of the symptoms associated with the term menopause are experienced. During the three to five year period before the cessation of menstrual cycles, there is a decrease in the production of estrogen. This period of perimenopause brings on a variety of symptoms that are often very inconsistent. Hot flashes may occur at times and then disappear for months. The normal menstrual cycle becomes irregular only to become regular again. It is also during perimenopause that some mood changes and brief bouts of insomnia may be evident. The inconsistency of the symptoms and the manner in which they affect the individual woman are characteristics of perimenopause itself.

A recent study examined the efficacy of St. John’s wort and black cohosh in menopausal symptoms including psychological symptoms. This study involved 306 menopausal women who received an extract of these two herbs or a matched placebo for 16 weeks. Symptom complaints were measured by the Menopause Rating Scale and the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. In both rating scales, the treatment group had a greater decrease in complaints when compared to the placebo group. The authors concluded that, “This fixed combination of black cohosh and St. John’s wort is superior to placebo in alleviating climacteric complaints, including the related psychological component.”1

References

1. Uebelhack R, et al. Black Cohosh and St. John’s Wort for Climacteric Complaints. Obstetrics & Gynecology. Feb 2006;107:247-255.