Black cohosh and red clover – two effective herbs for perimenopause & menopause

Red clover for menopause symptomsFor centuries, red clover has been used to curb some of the symptoms associated with perimenopause and menopause. Some of the active properties in red clover have been shown to help balance hormone levels in some women and thus reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes and night sweats. The bioactive compounds in red clover, such as lignans and phytoestrogens, are being further studied to prove their effectiveness in treating the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause in women.

How Does Red Clover Work

The exact way that red clover helps to alleviate symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats in menopausal women is still not understood. The science behind it is still emerging and therefore there is not enough documented scientific research to prove its effectiveness. This is highly common in the herbal medicine world. However, some evidence points to the bioactive compounds lignans and phytoestrogens as the active properties in red clover that provides the healing effects.

Phytoestrogens are ranked as the most likely active compound. They are simply plant chemicals that can bind to various estrogen receptors in your tissues and cause an adaptogenic physiological response. What this means is that it is able to help mimic estrogen hormones in your body and provide you with better hormonal balance. Since it is adaptogenic, it could possibly raise your levels of estrogen when it is too low, or lower levels of estrogen in your system when the levels are too high. When there is not a balance of hormones, you have the perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats.

Red Clover for Other Health Problems

Red clover is also known as purple clover, trefoil, and wild clover. Not only has it been showing to help reduce hot flashes and night sweats among perimenopausal and menopausal women, but it also has been reported to help with other health issues. Since ancient times red clover has been used to help suppress cough, suppress appetite, speed up wound healing, treat skin conditions such as psoriasis, and possibly even treat cancers of the breast and ovaries.

Is Red Clover a Safe Treatment for Menopausal Symptoms

Like other herbs, there have not been many studies examining the long-term effects of their use. However, the Food and Drug Administration has categorized red clover to be “generally recognized as safe”. It should not be taken for women who are pregnant or nursing. It is not recommended to take this with hormone replacement therapy medication (even birth control). If you take blood thinning medication, you should speak to your doctor before taking red clover. Some studies have shown that people have been able to reduce the amount of prescription blood thinning drugs due to adding red clover treatment. However, you should only add red clover to your treatment plan after discussing it with your doctor or other health care professional.

Red Clover Dosage Information for Symptoms of Menopause

Red clover for the treatment of perimenopause and menopause symptoms varies. It comes in capsules, tablets, liquid extract, and tinctures. You can also brew dried red clover into teas. If you are taking red clover as a standalone treatment, the recommended dosage is a supplement containing at least 8% isoflavonoids or 40mg of isoflavens per capsule or tablet dosage. It is recommended to take between 40mg to 80mg of red clover a day to gain relief from the symptoms of menopause. An herbalist, naturopath, or a medical doctor who is well versed in herbal medicines can discuss with you the proper dosage amounts for your specific needs. They can also help you to determine which type of administration is best for you. Dosages of red clover can be used in infusions, dried powdered extracts, tinctures, and teas.

Red clover has helped women for generations. Like most other herbs it should be researched and discussed with your health care provider before you add it to your treatment plan. For many women, red clover helps reduce hot flashes and night sweats. Not only have women reported relief from menopausal symptoms, but also that red clover aided in healthy aging. Red clover can also possibly help improve the health of your bones and heart functions.

Using the Herb Black Cohosh for Women’s Health Issues

Black cohosh, also known as Cimicifuga racemosa, has been used for centuries to treat the symptoms of various health conditions. Native Americans used the leaves and underground stems of black cohosh to treat women’s health issues such as the symptoms of menopause and symptoms associated with a woman’s menstrual period.

Black Cohosh Treats Menopausal Symptoms

If you are currently going through menopause, you may have the common complaints of hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. Black cohosh could possibly treat these symptoms for a short period. According to some research, it should only be used for 6 months. The long-term effects of black cohosh have not been fully evaluated, and therefore it is not recommended to take for extended periods of time. The estrogen-like properties of black cohosh are believed to provide natural hormone balance and this could give you relief from the symptoms of menopause.

Heavy Periods and Cramping Relieved with Black Cohosh Supplements

Due to the imbalance of hormones during your menstrual cycle, you may have heavy bleeding and cramping. For some people, black cohosh works to balance your body’s natural hormone levels and this provides you with relief from these types of symptoms.

Is Black Cohosh Right for You

Black cohosh should not be taken if you are currently prescribed hormone replacement therapy drugs or taking oral contraceptives. Since black cohosh affects your hormone levels, mixing this herbal nutritional supplement with HRT or oral contraceptives could be potentially dangerous or at the very least cause you to have exacerbated hormone imbalance related symptoms (e.g. worsening of symptoms).

If you have hormone sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, endometriosis or uterine fibroids you should probably not take black cohosh. Long-term effects of black cohosh have not been completed so the evidence that black cohosh is safe to take while having a history of these types of conditions is unknown. The boost to your body’s natural hormone production could negatively influence your current or former hormone sensitive conditions. In addition, women who are taking the chemotherapy drug Cisplatin should avoid black cohosh due to the risk of counter interaction.

Dosage Information for Black Cohosh

Black cohosh is available in various forms. You can purchase black cohosh capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts from your local health food store and even at some major retailer pharmacies. There are also varieties of online shops where you can purchase black cohosh nutritional supplements. The average dosage for the treatment of perimenopause, menopause, and menstrual symptoms is 20 to 40 milligrams twice a day for no more than 6 months. Only purchase these supplements from reputable companies so that you reduce your risk of overdosing on black cohosh. Over 900 mg of black cohosh is considered overdose. In addition, blue cohosh and white cohosh are considered toxic. If you are not dealing with a professional herbalist or naturopath, you may be at risk of purchasing a mislabeled product.

Possible Side Effects of Black Cohosh Use

Excessive doses of black cohosh could cause some people to have seizures. You should only take the recommended dosage of this nutritional herbal supplement. You should also speak to your doctor about the safety of black cohosh in regards to your specific medical conditions and any current medications you are taking. Some people have experienced irreversible damage to their liver associated with the use of black cohosh. It should be known, that most of these cases involved underlying medical issues that also contributed to the liver damage.

Some common side effects include headache, nausea and vomiting, indigestion, excessive perspiration, weight gain, heaviness in the lower extremities, and a drop in blood pressure. Some women who took black cohosh to treat the symptoms of menopause have also reported slow and irregular heartbeat.

There is the potential risk of allergic reaction to black cohosh. Black cohosh comes from the buttercup plant variety, so if you have allergies to the buttercup family you should avoid this.

For  centuries it has been used not only for women’s health issues, but for a variety of medical problems in both men and women. It is not advised for the use of people under the age of 18. Some other uses of black cohosh include treating the symptoms of arthritis, muscle pain, sore throat, and cough. Native Americans used the liquid form as an insect repellant and made it into salves to treat snakebite wounds. If you plan to start using black cohosh as an herbal remedy for menopause, heavy bleeding during your period, or menstrual cramps, you should first consult with an herbalist, naturopath, or your medical doctor. Black cohosh is generally safe depending upon any medical conditions, you may have and other herbs and medications you are currently taking.


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One Comment

  1. As a clinical herbalist, I thought I’d chime in here. Yes, red clover is a fantastic herb for menopause, hot flashes, vaginal dryness and more, however you will get different results depending on what form you are taking it.

    What I have found is if you use red clover in a tablet, a dried extract a tincture or a quick tea you might as well not take it. I find that the only way to get the results you really want is to drink red clover as a nourishing herbal infusion.

    So what is a nourishing herbal infusion, you want to purchase organic red clover in bulk and take 1 ounce of it in a 1 quart mason jar, fill with boiling water, stir and then make sure it is filled to the top, cover and let sit on your counter overnight (a minimum of 4 hours) steep and enjoy. It is delicious and can really change how you feel.

    In fact, I’m going to go make myself a jar for tomorrow. I’m going to mix red clover and nettles.

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