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Black cohosh is an herb that is commonly used in folk medicine to treat various types of female disorders, as well as calm the nerves, nourish the liver, and help equalize blood pressure and circulation. A block cohosh supplement may be in the form of a capsule or pill, or prepared as a liquid for use as an additive in a cup of tea. While there are many benefits to the use of the cohosh root, there is also the potential for several black cohosh side effects to develop, especially with prolonged use.
Some of the most common black cohosh side effects involve nausea, headaches, and dizziness. There are also some reports of allergic reactions such as skin rashes or difficulty breathing. These effects are often mild and appear to come and go at random. At other times, the side effects develop and seem to increase in intensity over time. For some users, adjusting the dosage of the supplement is sufficient to ease the discomfort of headaches and nausea and also minimize the sense of feeling disoriented that often accompanies the dizziness.
Black cohosh side effects may develop when the individual is also taking prescription medication for emotional disorders such as depression or some form or anxiety. The sedative effects of the herb on the nerves may create a situation in which the effect of the medication is amplified. This means that if an individual has been prescribed an anti-anxiety medication like alprazolam, the sedative effects of that drug may be enhanced by the black cohosh, rendering the individual so relaxed that he or she is unable to function normally. There is also anecdotal evidence of a combination of black cohosh with some type of antidepressant actually increasing the irritation and sense of lethargy that are often experienced by people suffering from this emotional illness.
While black cohosh is claimed to aid in stimulating the natural production of estrogen in women, use of the herb during pregnancy may actually trigger the opposite effect. The end result is additional discomfort during the course of the pregnancy, and possible counteraction of any type of hormone treatments that are being administered by the attending physician. That discomfort is often in the form of more severe mood swings as well as more frequent headaches and other commonly known black cohosh side effects. Due to the potential black cohosh side effects during pregnancy, many healthcare professionals recommend discontinuing use of the herb until after the child is delivered.