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Not All Black Cohosh Supplements Contain the Plant

Significant variability among supplements on the U.S. market

MONDAY, May 15 (HealthDay News) -- Black cohosh supplements, which have become increasingly popular in the United States for the treatment of menopause symptoms, are highly variable in terms of the active compounds they contain, and even the presence of the herb itself, according to a study published in the May 17 issue of the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry.

Edward Kennelly, Ph.D., of the City University of New York, and colleagues used high-performance liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry methods to analyze 11 black cohosh products for the presence of triterpene glycosides, phenolic constituents and formononetin.

Three of the products contained the marker compound cimifugin and not cimiracemoside C, an indicator that they contained Asian Actaea rather than black cohosh, while one of the products tested contained both plants. Among the products containing only black cohosh, there was a great deal of variability from product to product in terms of the amounts of selected triterpene glycosides and phenolic constituents.

"The manufacturers are required to follow good manufacturing practices, so this misbranding should not occur. Unfortunately, our study shows that at least in the case of black cohosh, many manufacturers are not following the regulations. Consumers should be aware of this situation in order to make proper choices for their health care," notes Kennelly in a statement.

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