Black Cohosh for Mood Swings: Does It Help?

Black Cohosh for Mood Swings: Does It Help?

Mood swings are a common symptom of mental illness (specifically, bipolar disorder) that can cause you to go from feeling happy to sad in a matter of minutes. Even though they’re just a symptom, mood swings in and of themselves can disrupt aspects of day-to-day life, from work to relationships. Therefore, it’s understandable many out there want to identify this symptom alone while treating a mental disorder at large. With that, many are turning to black cohosh for mood swings.

Black cohosh is an all-natural supplement that’s been found to have a number of potential health benefits, including relief from menopausal symptoms and mood swings. While research is slim, we’ve take the time to identify black cohosh, what is can do for mood swings, and some other important information.

What is Black Cohosh?

Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa or Cimicifuga racemosa) is a flowering plant of the buttercup family that is native to eastern North America. It can be found from the extreme south of Ontario to central Georgia, and west to Missouri and Arkansas. ¹

Black cohosh has been utilized in the past, especially in Native American medicine. However, recent research has found black cohosh may help with:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Hot flashes (or hot flushes)
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Night sweats
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Tinnitus
  • Vaginal dryness

The whole root of the black cohosh plant is extracted, grounded up, and utilized for over-the-counter supplements and natural ingredients that can be mixed into drinks or meals. That being said, black cohosh is usually taken through tablets and extracts in tincture or powdered form.

How Does Black Cohosh Affect the Body?

Black cohosh has antiosteoporotic effects which enhance bone formation by promoting calcium and phosphate absorption. Due to these effects, black cohosh is commonly sought after for alleviating menstrual complications, such as cramping and hot flashes in menopausal women.

The chemicals within black cohosh’s root have been found to work on the body’s immune system – allowing it to fight against certain diseases, especially those that cause inflammation. ² Furthermore, black cohosh is believed to have an effect that’s similar to estrogen. Some research suggests it can both increase and decrease estrogen in certain areas of the body. For this reason, it should NOT be taken as an estrogen supplement. ³

There’s also a belief that black cohosh might be helpful for those experiencing diabetic pain as well as those who are diagnosed with prostate cancer, as it may slow the growth of cancer cells. Still, these claims need more scientific studies to confirm if these effects are substantial enough. ⁴

How Does Black Cohosh Affect the Brain?

Black cohosh may have interactions through systems involving neurotransmitters and inflammatory pathways. As a result, this could explain how those experiencing menstrual and menopausal symptoms are finding relief.

Additionally, there is also a belief that black cohosh could serve as an effective antioxidant. Therefore, it could be utilized as an inhibitor to serotonin pathways, explaining how it’s been utilized for pain relief. ⁵

Black cohosh's effects on the brain and body

Black Cohosh for Mood Swings

While black cohosh is not a supplement that can act as a cure, it may be able to help limit symptoms of bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression. However, most of the research currently available isn’t directly connected to mental illness. Rather, it seeks out symptoms of other conditions, such as menopause, and reveals how it may help with mood swings.

For this reason, black cohosh may only be useful for those struggling with both a mental health condition and another physical disease. Before taking black cohosh, you should consult your doctor to get their recommendation on the supplement and how it may be able to benefit you.

What Does the Research Say?

By and large, black cohosh has seen positive results in helping to easing mood swings when looking into other health conditions. Most studies involve menopausal women who experience a wide variety of symptoms and have seen overall relief from black cohosh.

For example, a study done by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology through the University of Illinois in Chicago looked into the impact of certain herbal supplements – including St. John’s Wort, kava kava, ginkgo, and black cohosh – on menopausal women with many different symptoms of menopause. ⁶

They found that both St Johns Wort and black cohosh had a positive effect on their overall mood, sleep quality, and emotional wellbeing. Black cohosh was more noteworthy with it having a significant impact on mood swings as well as reducing anxiety. On the other hand, St. John’s Wort showed promise in alleviating depressive-related symptoms.

In a separate study, researchers sought out to use black cohosh and evening primrose oil to reduce menopausal hot flashes. Not only did they find black cohosh was more effective for hot flashes, but they also discovered it improved the participant’s overall quality of life by addressing psychiatric symptoms of menopause. ⁷

Black Cohosh for Mood Swings Dosage Recommendation

Dosage for black cohosh varies from supplier to supplier, but most studies involving black cohosh utilize between 20-40 milligrams, taken twice daily. However, as black cohosh comes in different forms, it’s always best to take the suggested amount prescribed by the supplier or by a health professional. Do not exceed the recommended dose as it could negatively impact health or desired results – especially in the long-term. ⁸

Furthermore, if you’re taking black cohosh for a specific condition, like menopause, it’s best to consult your doctor prior. While it’s common, black cohosh has been found to have drug interactions.

What are the Side Effects of Black Cohosh?

The side effects of black cohosh are not as vicious as those found with pharmaceutical therapies used to treat mood swings. However, it’s important to be aware of these side effects to see if they may cause worse problems than what you’re already facing.

The most common side effects for black cohosh include: ⁹

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Rash
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting

Common Risk Factors with Black Cohosh

There are a few other risk factors to keep in mind before taking black cohosh:

  • Greater liver risk associated with long-term, consistent use of black cohosh. Taking black cohosh along with other herbs and supplements has a potential to harm the liver. Extended use of black cohosh can increase the risk of liver damage.
  • For pregnant or breast-feeding women, black cohosh is not a good option. It can increase the risk of miscarriage.
  • Black cohosh may worsen existing breast cancer. Do not take if you are at a greater risk to developing cancer.
  • Due to the hormone-like effects of black cohosh, it could increase the risk blood clots for those with a Protein-S deficiency.
black cohosh safety and side effects

Black Cohosh Reviews

Black cohosh is available over-the-counter as a nutritional supplement from various different suppliers. Although you could go with any of the suppliers you can find online and in-store, here are three specific companies that provide quality and consistent products for black cohosh:


HerbPharm is a trusted supplier of natural supplements through liquid forms including tinctures and sprays. Since 1979, HerbPharm has made it its mission to create products through sustainable farming and manufacturing. Using unique extraction methods, HerbPharm’s products are organic and safe. Certain products certify that they’re GMO-free, gluten-free, and vegan-friendly.

Herb Pharm’s Black Cohosh Extract Tincture is an oral natural supplement that uses measured drops for dosage. It can be placed into your favorite beverage or taken as is. Most agree it’s best to take between meals, squeezing the dropper bulb to 2 oz. of water or juice, 2 to 4 times per day. Each dose contains 140mg of the black cohosh root extract.

Swanson’s Superior Herbs

Swanson started in 1969 in Fargo, North Dakota. Since then, they’ve been creating and distributing low-cost, sustainably sourced natural ingredients and supplements. Their products go through rigorous testing and approval from internal and external scientists and experts.

When it comes to black cohosh extract, Swanson Superior Herbs offers its own blend. The dose is 540mg in 60 vegetable capsules.

Nature’s Way

Nature’s Way is a supplement and vitamin company providing naturally created and sustainably harvested herbal ingredients. They have also prided themselves on manufacturing and distributing high-quality extracts and supplements for over fifty years.

Nature’s Way has its own Black Cohosh Root Supplement. Nature’s Way’s supplement is 540mg a capsule and the serving suggestion is one capsule a day. The product is a 100 day supply of black cohosh.

Other Natural Ways to Treat Mood Swings

If black cohosh isn’t an option due to health risks or side effects, there are other ways to balance mood swings. Here are some of the most common:

Engage in Exercise

Exercise isn’t just beneficial in losing weight and gaining muscle mass, it can also reduce stress, raise serotonin levels, and stabilizing emotional well-being. Exercising regularly and not invasively can help with mood swings, especially when you also incorporate a diet. ¹⁰

Change Your Diet

Diet plays an integral role in our overall health. It has an impact in how we function, how we manage our weight, and even how our mental health functions. Eating anti-inflammatory meals along with foods that avoid sugars and additives can help regulate mood functionality. Curbing caffeinated and alcoholic beverages can also be helpful for mood swings. ¹¹

If you’d like to learn more, read our Bipolar Diet Guide.

Utilize Calcium Supplements

Calcium is a necessary nutrient as it helps build and strengthen bone and can aid in the treatment of mood swings and mood disorders. A study showed that by utilizing a low, daily dose of a calcium supplement, it can curb mood swings and stabilize emotional balance over the long-term. ¹²

Get Better Sleep

Sleep is important – in fact, many see it as a vital part in living a healthy and satisfying life. Ensuring that you not only get enough sleep but restful and restorative sleep can aid in trying to curb mood swings. It doesn’t need to be all that encompassing a task either, just adding 30 minutes of sleep can help you feel more energized, less groggy, and strengthen emotional and mental clarity. ¹³

Stress Management Techniques

One of the most common causes of mood shifts is an increase in stress. Stress relief methods can ensure that not only the underlying stress is being managed but the symptoms of stress like anger, anxiety, and frustration. Stress relief can be as simple as decreasing the time spent on stressful activities, engaging in a relaxing hobby, or spending time to focus on yourself. ¹⁴

Final Word

While black cohosh won’t identify a specific mental illness, it may be able to help in reducing mood swings caused by an illness. According to the research, this is especially true for those experiencing psychiatric symptoms alongside other health conditions, such as menopause.

Still, research concerning black cohosh and mood swings is thin. Furthermore, treating mood swings isn’t as simple as taking a daily supplement. It requires lifestyle changes in order to ensure your brain and body are receiving what they need to function properly.

Your Questions

Still have questions regarding black cohosh for mood swings?

We invite you to ask them in the comments section below. If you have any further knowledge to share – whether personal or professional – we’d also love to hear from you.

Reference Sources

¹ National Institutes of Health Services, Office of Dietary Services: Black Cohosh Fact Sheet for Health Professionals

² HHS Public Access: Immunomodulatory effects of black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) extract in female B6C3F1/N mice

³ Breast Cancer: Targets and Therapy (Dovepress): The effects of black cohosh on the regulation of estrogen receptor (ERα) and progesterone receptor (PR) in breast cancer cells

⁴ Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center: Black Cohosh – An Understanding

⁵ National Centers for Biotechnical Information: Black Cohosh: Insights into its Mechanism of Action

⁶ PubMed: Botanical and dietary supplements for mood and anxiety in menopausal women

⁷ Journal of Education and Health Promotion: A comparative study on the effect of “black cohosh” and “evening primrose oil” on menopausal hot flashes

⁸ National Centers for Complementary and Integrative Medicine: Black Cohosh – Overview

⁹ Susan G Komen Foundation: Black Cohosh – Concerns & Safety

¹⁰ Anxiety & Depression Association of America: Exercise for Stress and Anxiety

¹¹ Harvard University Health Publishing: Nutritional psychiatry – Your brain on food

¹² National Centers for Biotechnical Information: Effect of calcium on premenstrual syndrome

¹³ Victoria State Heath Services: Mood and sleep

¹⁴ Mayo Clinic: Relaxation techniques – Try these steps to reduce stress

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