Possible link between black cohosh and liver damage

Health Canada is advising the public about a potential link between health products containing the herbal medicine black cohosh, also known as Actaea racemosa or Cimicifuga racemosa, and liver damage.

Black cohosh, a herbal remedy used to treat menopausal and premenstrual symptoms, is also commonly called black snakeroot, black bugbane and rheumatism weed. The agency advises there have several international cases of suspected liver damage associated with the consumption of black cohosh, including three incidents in Canada and one published case of death in the U.S.

Most of these cases involved other medical issues, with other medications possibly contributing to the liver damage. Consumers should stop using the remedy and consult a physician if they experience unusual fatigue, weakness and loss of appetite or if they develop symptoms of liver injury such as yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, dark urine or abdominal pain.

Advisory notice