Thursday, May 15, 2008

New Study says Black Cohosh stops Breast Cancer Cell Growth

Extract of black cohosh may halt the growth of breast cancer cells, according to a new study published in the journal Phytomedicine. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Cimicifugae racemosae rhizome, also known as black cohosh, is a plant in the buttercup family that is native to eastern North America, ranging from central Georgia in the south to southern Ontario in the north, and as far west as Missouri. Black cohosh has a long history of use as a traditional medicine for gynecological problems, kidney problems and sore throat, and is most commonly used in to help relieve the symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, night sweats, irritability and nervousness, and vaginal dryness. It has also been known to induce labor.

In the current study, researchers applied extracts of black cohosh to breast cancer cells in a laboratory setting. Growth of cancer cells was inhibited in cell lines that had the extract added, apparently due to an increase in programmed cell death (apoptosis). The researchers linked the cancer-inhibiting effects of black cohosh extract to its content of triterpene glycosides. It is these same compounds that are thought to exhibit the regulatory effects on Luteinizing Hormone (LH), high levels of which are associated with menopausal symptoms. In addition, phytoestrogens in black cohosh bind to estrogen receptors, producing a weak estrogen effect, while other constituents promote mild relaxation. It is this weak estrogenic effect that is thought to also be associated with lowered cancer risk, since excess estrogens are linked to various cancers.

"Taken together, these results indicate that the triterpene glycoside actein and related compounds may be useful in the prevention and treatment of human breast cancer," the researchers wrote.

Go here to read Dr. Jeffrey Bland’s position paper on the safety of Black Cohosh.

Go here to view Metagenics’ black cohosh products.