| Black Cohosh Herb Inhibits The
Growth of Breast Cancer Tumors
Extract of black
cohosh may halt the growth of breast cancer cells, according
to a new study conducted by the French company Naturex and 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. It is also
known as black bugbane, black snakeroot and fairy candle.
Black cohosh has a history of use as a traditional medicine for
gynecological problems, kidney problems and sore throat, and is
commonly used to help relieve the symptoms of menopause.
In the current study, researchers applied extracts of black cohosh
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.
"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.
Various safety concerns have been raised over the use of black
cohosh dietary supplements by women with breast cancer. A Yale
School of Medicine study found that black cohosh increased the
cell toxicity of two chemotherapy drugs, doxorubicin and docetaxel,
making them more dangerous. At the same time, black cohosh appears
to decrease the cell toxicity of a different drug, known as cisplatin.
Black cohosh has also been known to induce labor or miscarriage
in certain cases.
The connection of the plant with the female reproductive system
is not well understood. Originally, researchers believed that
the plant contained phytoestrogens, but this hypothesis is now