Harvard Women's Health Watch

In Brief: Hot flash herb no better than placebo in large trial

In Brief

Hot flash herb no better than placebo in large trial

Black cohosh is the most popular herbal supplement used by perimenopausal and menopausal women, but its effectiveness against hot flashes and night sweats remains unproven. The herb, extracted from the roots and underground stems (rhizomes) of a perennial plant native to North America, is available over the counter in tablet, liquid, or capsule form. While there's no dearth of black cohosh studies, their inconsistency in design and results have made it difficult to evaluate the herb's effectiveness and safety, especially beyond three months.

In the longest and largest placebo-controlled trial to date, researchers have found that black cohosh — used alone or with other botanical supplements — is no better than placebo in relieving hot flashes and night sweats. The yearlong investigation, called the Herbal Alternatives (HALT) for Menopause Study, was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Results were published in the Dec. 19, 2006, Annals of Internal Medicine.

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