Black Cohosh and Hair Growth

Karen Frazier
hair growth

Are you seeking information about black cohosh and hair growth? Below you will find information about the herb, black cohosh, and how it affects hair loss and hair growth.

What Is Black Cohosh

Before discussing black cohosh and hair growth, it is important to know a little bit about this herb.

Black cohosh is also known as Actaea racemosa and Cimicifuga racemosa. It is a member of the butter cup family. It grows in North America and is a perennial.

The root of the plant is used for most herbal preparations. The root is almost black and very thick. The rhizomes (underground stems) are also used in black cohosh preparations. It is available as a tincture, a tablet or a capsule.

Other names for black cohosh include snakeroot, bugbane, bugwort and squawroot.

Black Cohosh and Hair Loss

Because it believed that black cohosh has the ability to regulate levels of the hormone estrogen, many believe that black cohosh is helpful for preventing hair loss in women. Because of this, a number of natural hair loss remedies contain black cohosh as one of their ingredients.

The reason that there is a wide-spread belief that black cohosh has estrogen stimulating properties is because of its effectiveness in treating menopausal symptoms.

According to the National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, "How black cohosh works is not known. The possibility that black cohosh exhibits estrogenic activity has been studied but the evidence is contradictory."

There is also some evidence that black cohosh relieves menopausal symptoms not by supporting estrogen production, but by targeting the brain's serotonin receptors.

The Relationship of Estrogen to Hair Loss

The female sex hormone, estrogen, plays a number of important roles in the female body to give women their feminine characteristics. One such role is to reduce body hair and promote growth of hair on the head. It does this by blocking levels of DHT from the male hormone, testosterone. DHT from testosterone is the main reason that hair follicles stop producing hair in men with male pattern baldness.

Women with normal levels of estrogen stand very little chance of facing hair loss.

Aging, however, has an effect on the level of estrogen in the body. During menopause, it is common for hormonal levels of estrogen to drop, which can lead to a hormonal imbalance. This allows for DHT from testosterone to flow into the hair follicles, causing the follicles to stop producing hair.

Black cohosh, with its presumed estrogen supporting properties, has long been a remedy for menopausal symptoms brought about by hormonal imbalances, particularly in cases of reduced estrogen. Because it is believed to stimulate the production of estrogen, it may have positive effects on blocking the DHT from making its way to your hair follicles.

Black Cohosh and Hair Growth

You will find black cohosh in a number of "hair growth" formulas. While there appears to be a path linking black cohosh to reducing hair loss in women, is their also a link between black cohosh and hair growth?

This answer here seems to be less clear. While it is true that estrogen promotes hair growth, it is still unclear as to whether or not rebalancing estrogen levels is actually a property of black cohosh. If black cohosh does, indeed have estrogenic properties as testing seems to indicate, then they are fairly weak and likely not strong enough to have nearly as much of an effect on hair loss and hair growth as manufacturers of natural supplements might have you believe.

The bottom line on black cohosh and hair loss is that the jury is still out. More studies need to be done to prove a link between the two; however, chances are it won't hurt to try it.

Side Effects, Caveats and Cautions

If you do choose to try a hair growth preparation containing black cohosh, please be aware of the following:

  • It is always best to check with your personal health care provider before self-prescribing any medication, including over the counter and herbal medicines.
  • No studies have been done on black cohosh to test for medication interactions. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any other medications.
  • Women with breast cancer or a history of breast cancer should avoid taking black cohosh because it is unknown what type of effect it has on breast tissue.
  • People with liver disorders shouldn't take black cohosh.
  • Discontinue use if you develop any signs of liver problems and contact your health care provider.
  • Pregnant and lactating women should check with their doctor before taking black cohosh because black cohosh has been used historically to induce labor.
Black Cohosh and Hair Growth