Vicki Petersen was driving, when suddenly, waves of heat filled her body, like some sort of internal oven turning on. She quickly cranked up the air-conditioning, but sweat continued pouring her face. I can’t live like this, she sighed, as she pulled into her driveway.
Since the onset of menopause, hot flashes had become a normal occurrence for the then-54-year-old Rancho Mirage, California, resident. Though it was annoying to have them wake her up at night, the hot flashes that plagued Vicki during the day were far worse — she’d sometimes have four or five in a single hour. She was grateful to work from home, but the heat waves would be so intense and distracting, she’d sometimes have to cut a business call short.
In fact, it was to the point where Vicki always carried a small battery-operated fan and a spritz bottle to cool herself down. Now, she’d finally had it. These hot flashes have to stop!
What is black cohosh?
Vicki had already tried dietary changes and a hormone replacement patch, but they hadn’t helped—the patch even made her dizzy. Desperate, she called her nutritionist.
“Do you know of anything else I could try?” she asked.
“I have another client who swears by black cohosh when she gets hot flashes,” the practitioner told her, explaining that the supplement, made of a flowering plant called black bugbane, functions as a phytoestrogen — a plant-based compound that mimics the action of estrogen in the body.
Intrigued, Vicki hurried to a nearby natural foods store and grabbed a bottle of Gaia Herbs Black Cohosh (Buy from Gaia Herbs, $28.99) and began taking the recommended dosage of 400 milligrams one to two times a day.
Within just a few days, Vicki’s hot flashes became less intense and less frequent. Thrilled, she continued taking black cohosh, and though not completely gone, the episodes were much more bearable.
Then, a few months later, Vicki’s husband was in the grocery store and a woman noticed he was buying black cohosh. He explained his wife took it for hot flashes, and the woman said she paired it with flaxseeds to help her menopausal symptoms.
Curious, Vicki purchased a bag of flaxseeds and began adding one tablespoon of the ground seeds to smoothies and salads each day.
To Vicki’s delight, the combination worked wonders. Within a few months, her hot flashes stopped entirely.
“Black cohosh and flaxseeds were a lifesaver — I got through the rest of menopause with no symptoms! ” beams Vicki, now 62, who no longer takes the supplement but still adds flaxseeds to her diet to improve digestion. “I feel great and I’m not looking back!”
What are other health benefits of black cohosh?
There are plenty of other reasons to consider adding this supplement to your diet!
It boosts your mood.
Taking 20 milligrams of black cohosh twice daily has been shown to reduce persistent sadness or hopelessness by 30 percent within one month, and by 48 percent after two months. The reason? Experts say the herb restores hormonal balance to brighten mood.
It eases cramps.
Rich in antispasmodic compounds, black cohosh is proven effective at soothing painful menstrual cramps. Laura Corio, MD, author of The Change Before the Change, suggests taking 40 milligrams of the herb twice a day, starting a week before your period.
It lowers breast cancer risk.
A study published in the International Journal of Cancer shows that women taking a black cohosh supplement reduce their risk of breast cancer by 61 percent! Experts say they believe the herb likely inhibits the spread of breast cancer cells.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.