Pilot evaluation of black cohosh for the treatment of hot flashes in women

Barbara A. Pockaj, Charles L. Loprinzi, Jeff A. Sloan, Paul J. Novotny, Debra L. Barton, Andrea Hagenmaier, Huayan Zhang, George H. Lambert, Kristine A. Reeser, Joyce A. Wisbey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Background. Hot flashes cause significant morbidity in postmenopausal women, including women with breast cancer. We undertook a pilot study to estimate the effectiveness of black cohosh to reduce hot flashes. Methods. Women who reported significant hot flashes (≥ 14 per week) were enrolled. Black cohosh was given in the form of the commercial product Remifemin. The first week was a no-treatment baseline period, and therapy was given for the subsequent 4 weeks. Hot flash data were collected by daily questionnaires during baseline and treatment weeks. Adverse effects were recorded. Results. Twenty-one women completed the study. Their mean age was 56 years (range, 38-80). Thirteen patients had a history of breast cancer. Six patients were taking tamoxifen or raloxifene. Patients reported an average of 8.3 hot flashes per day during the baseline week. The reduction in mean daily hot flash frequency was 50% (95% CI, 34%-65%), while weekly hot flash scores were reduced 56% (95% CI, 40%-71%) at completion of the study. Overall, patients reported less trouble with sleeping, less fatigue, and less abnormal sweating. No patients stopped therapy because of adverse effects. Conclusions. Black cohosh appeared to reduce hot flashes and had a low toxicity. The efficacy found in this trial seems to be more than would be expected by a placebo effect (20%-30% hot flash reduction in previous trials). These results suggest that further evaluation of this black cohosh preparation with a phase III randomized trial is indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-521
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Investigation
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2004


  • Alternative medicine
  • Breast cancer
  • Hot flashes
  • Medicine, herbal
  • Menopause

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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