Results of laboratory research are the first to indicate that extracts of the herb black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) may stimulate bone formation, according to a study published in the journal Bone. Although results from the study suggest that black cohosh may have potential implications for the prevention or treatment of postmenopausal bone loss, there is no evidence yet that this laboratory research can be extended to treatments in people.
Researchers from the University of Hong Kong, City University of New York, and Columbia University added an extract of black cohosh to a culture of bone-forming mouse cells. The researchers observed that a high dose (1,000 ng/mL) of the extract suppressed the production of these bone-forming cells, yet a lower dose (500 ng/mL) significantly increased the formation of bone nodules. When the cells were treated with a protein whose molecules attach to estrogen receptors in place of estrogen, this effect on bone nodule formation disappeared. Thus, the researchers suggest that ingredients within black cohosh contain a component that acts through estrogen receptors.
The researchers concluded that their results provide a scientific explanation at the molecular level for claims that black cohosh may protect against postmenopausal osteoporosis. They also noted that studying extraction methods and identifying black cohosh’s active components may make it possible to develop new ways to prevent and treat this condition.
Chan BY, Lau KS, Jiang B, et al.. Ethanolic extract of Actaea racemosa (black cohosh) potentiates bone nodule formation in MC3T3-E1 preosteoblast cells.. Bone.;;43(3):567–573..2008