Exercise Helps Bone Density but Supplements May Not
Herbal supplements may claim miraculous results, but when it comes to black cohosh and its claims to increase bone density in post-menopausal women, the claim does not stand up. Exercise, however, does prevent bone loss, according to a German study reported in the journal Menopause.
Researchers compared groups of women who exercised regularly with those who exercised infrequently or lightly, and found that the regular moderate exercisers maintained bone density during the one-year study while bone density decreased slightly for light exercisers. Random members of each subgroup were assigned to take black cohosh in addition to their exercise, and they showed no increased benefit from the herb. It is believed to be the first study to test the effect of black cohosh on bone loss.
Black cohosh is touted as a "natural" form of hormone treatment and marketed for menopause symptoms.
Loss of bone density in post-menopausal women leads to osteoporosis and increased fractures. Women going through menopause should get a bone density test. Increasing the calcium in your diet or through supplements is important for healthy bones and moderate exercise has been shown in this and other studies as an effective way to slow bone loss.
For post menopausal women, a bone density test can tell you if you have osteoporosis or a condition that may lead to it. But while black cohosh might help other symptoms, it is no substitute for regular moderate exercise to maintain healthy bones. And if you are looking for a supplement that can improve bone health, talk to your doctor about calcium.