Black cohosh, which is also sometimes known as snakeroot, black bugbane, rattleweed, macrotys, or rheumatism weed, is an herb that comes from the buttercup family of plants.
Beginning in 1950s Europe, black cohosh began to be used for women’s health issues. European settlers would use black cohosh to support women’s reproductive health, and Native Americans used the plant to kick-start labor or to support regular menstrual periods.
Indeed, today, black cohosh is “most commonly used for menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes (also called hot flushes) and night sweats (together known as vasomotor symptoms), vaginal dryness, heart palpitations, tinnitus, vertigo, sleep disturbances, nervousness, and irritability.” In other words, symptoms that largely (though certainly not exclusively) affect women.
Considering its historic use to support menstrual health and reproductive health, mothers to be might wonder if black cohosh could support a healthy pregnancy.
The phrase ‘black cohosh pregnancy’ may be something women hear before or during pregnancy, but they should stop and consult a primary care physician before ever using this herb. Indeed, in the past midwives would use this herb to stimulate the uterus and induce contractions. However, a review of studies by the Canadian Journal of Clinical Pharmacology determined that women should use black cohosh with caution during pregnancy, as more studies are needed to determine if it is safe for use.
Doctors warn black cohosh has the potential to be dangerous to a pregnant mother especially during the first trimester of pregnancy, because of its potential labor-inducing effects.
Alternative to Black Cohosh
There are many herbs and herbal supplements besides black cohosh that are believed to support healthy pregnancy and fertility. One of these is a powder made from maca root.
Maca powder is an adaptogen that may naturally assist the body in navigating and responding to stress. Among the many potential health benefits of maca powder is its ability to support healthy fertility and arousal. Long supported anecdotally, science may now also support this claim, as a “double-blind study suggests that it may also potentially be beneficial as a support for sexual dysfunction as maca ‘has been shown to increase sperm count and sperm motility, as well as increasing sexual desire.’”
Maca is also known for its potential ability to regulate and restore hormone balance. It supports thyroid hormone production and promotes pituitary gland activity; it may also be a “valuable non-hormonal plant preparation for balancing levels of hormones and alleviating negative physiological and psychological symptoms.”
Shatavari is an Ayurvedic herb known best for its potential to support women’s health. Like black cohosh, shatavari is frequently utilized to support menopausal health; however, shatavari has many other potential health benefits to support a mother and child through the process of fertility all the way through pregnancy and birth. The root, rhizome, and stem are usually ground into a powder and used in tea, ghee paste, or supplements.
Just some of the systems that shatavari may support can include:
- The immune system. A healthy immune system is critical for fetal development.
- Mucus membrane support. Shatavari herb is believed to promote the production of cervical mucus production, which is directly linked to fertility promotion.
- Milk production. Since regular ingestion of shatavari may promote estrogen production, it also has the potential to promote fertility and milk production in new mothers.
Chaste tree supplements are another source that some women try when looking to support regular menstruation. A chaste tree supplement “may also support fertility by promoting a healthy hormone balance and helping to support regular menstrual periods.”
These are just some of the herbs and supplements that women utilize to support menstrual regularity, menopausal health, normal fertility, and typical pregnancies. As always, pregnant women should also consult with their physician about any herbs or supplements they are taking.
Natural Healthy Concepts offers dozens of supplements meant to support mothers-to-be, pregnant mothers, and nursing mothers. From prenatal vitamins to belly balms, supplements to supporting healthy milk production, it’s all here.
What herbs or supplements helped you through menstruation, menopause, or pregnancy? Are there any you swear by?