Cimicifuga racemosa is one of the few medicinal plants that specifically targets the symptoms of menopause, menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth. In Germany it is called black cohosh.
In our Cimicifuga Test 2021 we tell you about this medicinal plant. You will not only find out why this plant is said to have healing properties, but you will also learn something about the plant itself.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 The most important thing
- 3 Cimicifuga: Our Selection
- 4 Buying and evaluation criteria for Cimicifuga products
- 5 Guide: Questions to ask yourself before buying Cimicifuga products
The most important thing
- Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) is recommended as a herbal remedy for menopause and menstrual cramps. The oestrogen-like effect of black cohosh alleviates various symptoms that may occur during menopause.
- Cimicifuga is not as effective as oestrogen, but the risk is lower. To make medicinally useful preparations, the rhizomes and their roots are dried and then processed.
- Black cohosh has a long tradition of use and is easily digestible. The duration of use of Cimicifuga preparations is limited to 6 months. Discussions about long-term use are still ongoing.
Cimicifuga: Our Selection
Buying and evaluation criteria for Cimicifuga products
When buying Cimicifuga, you can pay attention to various aspects. By making the right choice for you, you can save money and also ensure that you do not give your body anything it does not need. Therefore, always look for high quality and, if necessary, ask to see the manufacturer's certificates.
The criteria include:
We will go into these criteria in more detail below.
The following table gives you an overview of what you need to watch out for.
|Excess?||An overdose can lead to gastrointestinal complaints and diarrhoea. If overdose is suspected, seek medical attention immediately.|
|Forget to take it?||Take it at the next prescribed time as usual, that is, do not double the dose.|
|General rule||Pay attention to the dosage, especially in babies, children and the elderly. If in doubt, ask your doctor or pharmacist about possible effects or preventive measures. The dose prescribed by the doctor may differ from the information on the package leaflet. As the doctor will tailor it for you, you should use the medicine according to his or her instructions.|
It turns out that there are a few things to keep in mind when dosing Cimicifuga.
The packs come in different sizes. It depends on what kind of preparation it is. For tablets, for example, the most common size is 60 or 100.
In homeopathy there are different "potencies". They are made by gradually diluting the so-called mother tincture. In homeopathy, the more potentised (and thus diluted) the remedy, the more effective it is.
The basis of homeopathy is a starting solution of the active substance (mother tincture), usually in alcohol. Dilute it several times according to a special protocol and "shake well" after each dilution step.
This process is called potentisation. Only in this way can the diluted substance have a homeopathic effect.
To make homeopathic spheres, the improvement solution is dropped onto the sugar spheres. For example, a mixture with a ratio of 1:99 produces a medicine with a C titre. C stands for percent.
Guide: Questions to ask yourself before buying Cimicifuga products
If you have decided to buy Cimicifuga, this section will help you find out more about it. Therefore, we have summarised and answered the most important questions.
What is Cimicifuga and how does it work?
Black cohosh produces hormone regulation in the human body that is attributed to triterpenes. It should be organ specific and selective. There are no adverse side effects compared to artificial oestrogen. (1)
This is a great advantage over the hormones and phytoestrogens (isoflavones from soybeans and red clover) used in traditional treatments. Cimicifuga racemosa extracts are important worldwide for the treatment of menopausal symptoms. The first medicinal product made from Cimicifuga has been available since 1956. (1)
The study of seven plants of Cimicifuga spp. has led to the identification of more than 457 compounds to date.
Years of pharmacological research proved that the crude extracts and certain pure compounds obtained from Cimicifuga exhibited menopausal syndrome treatment, anti-osteoporosis, antiviral, antitumour, antioxidant and antiangiogenic activities.
On the other hand, Cimicifuga plant-induced toxicities of the liver, cardiovascular, central and peripheral nervous systems have also been reported.
Therefore, safety considerations should be given high priority in herbal Cimicifuga therapy in the early stages of development and clinical trials.(8)
Therefore, the use of the remedy is mainly in gynaecology. However, the minor positive effects observed in some studies could be explained by a central activity, but an oestrogenic activity cannot be completely excluded. (2)
Fields of application at a glance:
- Complaints during the menopause
- Activity and well-being
- Menstrual cramps
- Anti aging
- Hair loss
In the following sections we will go into further detail on the areas of application.
Complaints during the menopause
Nowadays, women with menopausal complaints benefit particularly from medicinal plants. The main reason is that the hormonal balance of those affected has changed dramatically: During the menopause, hormone production gradually decreases.
Certain substances contained in plants have similar effects to natural hormones in women.
Pharmacies also call them phytohormones, and their characteristic is that they do not have the side effects of classic hormone preparations. However, their effect is not very strong.
The use of plant extracts to treat menopausal symptoms has become increasingly important, and most of these extracts achieve their effect at least partly by binding to oestrogen receptors.(3)
Although the effects of Cimicifuga may depend on the specific extract preparation, there is clear support for the safety of specific Cimicifuga extracts. In particular, for isopropanolic preparations, for use in women with menopausal symptoms and as a safe alternative for women in whom oestrogen therapy is contraindicated.(4)
In the root of Cimicifuga there is a substance corresponding to serotonin. The effect of this substance on the human brain is similar to that of serotonin, which is commonly known as the "happy hormone".
For this reason, the Chinese have long vowed to use black cohosh to resist premenstrual mood swings. For low moods, other plants like St. John's wort (Hypericum) show much better results here. (7)
The most important noradrenaline-serotonin analogues and triterpenes have been found in the rhizomes of black cohosh, which explains its effectiveness in treating menopausal symptoms. (7)
A study in rodents suggests that cimicifuga has antidepressant properties that may be related to its serotonergic and noradrenergic activation and normalisation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.(5)
Activity and well-being
In addition to the therapeutic effects described, black cohosh has other benefits: By promoting blood circulation and supporting the nervous system, it can counteract stress and promote activity.
At the same time, black cohosh has a calming effect, although this sounds contradictory. The active ingredients also help to reduce feelings of anxiety and cramps.
A study shows positive effects of Cimicifuga racemosa on haemodynamic parameters and quality of life in perimenopausal women with arterial hypertension.(9)
When the oestrogen level decreases during menopause, the bone density of older women also decreases. This can lead to terrible osteoporosis, a condition that increases the risk of fractures for no reason. Doctors usually recommend hormone therapy as a preventive measure.
However, research clearly shows that substitutes derived from black cohosh are also useful in preventing osteoporosis.
The bone-protective properties shown in experimental and clinical studies may provide further therapeutic benefits. The parameters of bone resorption are inhibited, while the parameters of bone formation are activated and increased. (6)
Menstrual cramps and pregnancy
Many women are often irritable or depressed shortly before giving birth and complain of diffuse abdominal and back pain. Medicine summarises a total of 150 different types of complaints under the term "premenstrual syndrome".
The first empirical value also reported the positive effects of black cohosh. During this time, the female body produces more painkillers, which leads to inflammation and cramps in the intestines and back.
The positive effects of this medicinal plant can be particularly documented for these complaints due to its anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects. No wonder, because black cohosh also contains traces of salicylic acid.
Its effect is similar to that of low-dose aspirin. So far, however, there are only empirical values, which still have to be confirmed with exact figures. So far, there is no official confirmation of the hypothesis that black cohosh can also be used as a rheumatic drug.
Animal studies show that black cohosh also has a positive effect on blood pressure, insulin levels and blood sugar. The decrease in these levels is usually related to the ageing process. However, due to a lack of research, it is too early to hope that ageing will slow down.
One study showed that the bioenergetic shift induced by Cimicifuga exerts protective effects in various cell types and offers promising therapeutic potential in age-related diseases with oxidative stress and mitochondrial damage.(10)
Hormonal changes during menopause can lead to an increase in male hormones in women. This change in hormone balance can in turn lead to hair loss and thinning.
A phenomenon that affects many women during and after menopause. The first experiments questioned whether topical preparations of black cohosh would also help in these situations.
The bad news: this effect was not confirmed. But if medicinal plants are very successful in this field, the same is true for men. This will undoubtedly be good news, as there is no truly reliable hair repair remedy.
When do I need Cimicifuga?
Black cohosh adults suffer from mood swings from hysteria to the deepest sadness. They also tend to be depressed. The patient keeps talking and jumps from one topic to another. They are afraid of death or loss of sanity.
Cimicifuga children often feel negative. They are depressed and do not trust others. Children are very sensitive and cry easily when spoken to. They feel much better after they have cried. They like to travel but soon get homesick. They do not like any person and get scared easily.
What are the side effects of Cimicifuga?
There are also different opinions regarding side effects. According to some experts, long-term use of Cimicifuga-based medicines can lead to discomfort and health problems.
Besides stomach and intestinal problems, the risk of liver damage is said to increase. Liver damage can cause jaundice, among other things, and can have various symptoms.
What types of Cimicifuga are there?
Cimicifuga is available in four different types. The species include:
|globules||homeopathic, single dosage|
Here you can decide which type of product is best for you.
How should Cimicifuga be dosed?
Cimicifuga is available as a single homeopathic medicine in the form of pellets, tablets or drops. It is also included in homeopathic combination preparations for various conditions.
If Cimicifuga is to be used alone, medicines with low potency are suitable. You can also use Cimicifuga D alone in potency D12, and you can take Cimicifuga D12 up to 6 times a day.
The time to start treatment depends on the clinical situation. Start as soon as possible and keep taking it until the symptoms improve significantly.
What are the alternatives to Cimicifuga?
In terms of menopausal mood swings, salmonis and cimicifuga show similarities in imagery. Modality can be used to distinguish the two.
Compared to Cimicifuga, Lachesis shows significant improvement in menstrual symptoms and worsens when heated.
Interesting facts about Cimicifuga
Cimicifuga (black cohosh, Cimicifuga racemosa, also known as Actaea racemosa) belongs to the Maoan family and originates from the forests of North America and Canada. At the same time, it is also very common in Europe. It is more common in ornamental plants in gardens and parks.
These plants, which are perennial and up to two metres high, have double to triple pinnate leaves distributed on upright stems.
The German plant name black cohosh is derived from the shape and colour of the inflorescence: many small, white, almost silver flowers grow in clusters at the end of the stem. Soon after flowering, the petals fall off, leaving only a large number of stamens.
Image source: Olga Ostroukhova / 123rf
Hans-Heinrich Henneicke-von Zepelin, 60 years of Cimicifuga racemosa medicinal products : Clinical research milestones, current study findings and current development, 2017, DOI: 10.1007/s10354-016-0537-z
Francesca Borrelli, Edzard Ernst, Cimicifuga racemosa: a systematic review of its clinical efficacy, 2002, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00228-002-0457-2
Axel Brattström, Extrakte aus Cimicifuga racemosa – eine Behandlungsalternative bei Beschwerden in den Wechseljahren, 2010, DOI: 10.1055/s-0030-1262408
Dog, Tieraona Low MD1; Powell, Kara L. MBA2; Weisman, Steven M. PhD2 Critical evaluation of the safety of Cimicifuga racemosa in menopause symptom relief, Menopause: July 2003 - Volume 10 - Issue 4 - p 299-313 doi: 10.1097/01.GME.0000056039.51813.21
L. Ye, Z. Hu, G. Du, J. Zhang, Q. Dong, F. Fu, J. Tian, Antidepressant-like effects of the extract from Cimicifuga foetida L. 2012
P. Stute, S. Pickartz, Zusatznutzen eines isopropanolischen Cimicifuga-racemosa-Extrakts (iCR), Positive Beeinflussung von Knochenstoffwechsel und -qualität, 2015
I. Gerhard, Wechseljahresbeschwerden, nicht nur ein Mangel an Hormonen, 2020
Guo Y, Yin T, Wang X, et al. Traditional uses, phytochemistry, pharmacology and toxicology of the genus Cimicifuga: A review. J Ethnopharmacol. 2017;209:264-282. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2017.07.040
Gorach NV. Effects of cimicifuga racemosa on the hemodynamics parameters and quality of life in perimenopausal women with arterial hypertension. Wiad Lek. 2018;71(5):1010-1014.
Rabenau M, Unger M, Drewe J, Culmsee C. Metabolic switch induced by Cimicifuga racemosa extract prevents mitochondrial damage and oxidative cell death. Phytomedicine. 2019;52:107-116. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2018.09.177