July 18, 2006

Britain warns on safety of popular menopause herb

LONDON (Reuters) - Black cohosh, a herb popular for
relieving hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause, may be
linked with liver damage and products containing it will in
future carry a warning, Britain's drug regulator said on

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency
(MHRA) said a review of all available data had concluded that
liver injury resulting from black cohosh was rare but could be

"In the light of this advice, the MHRA is working with the
herbal sector to ensure that labels of black cohosh products
carry updated safety warnings," Professor Kent Wood, the
agency's chief executive, said in a statement.

"The labels will point out the possible symptoms so that
appropriate action can be taken without delay."

Symptoms of liver problems include pain on the right side
of the stomach just below the ribs, unexplained nausea,
flu-like symptoms, dark urine and yellowing of eyes or skin.

The warning will come as a blow to women looking for
something to ease the symptoms of menopause who may have
assumed that black cohosh, as a herb, was a safe option.

The herbal treatment has been used for many years in Europe
and North America and gained popularity after a highly
publicized study in 2002 found hormone replacement therapy
raised the risk of heart attack, stroke and breast cancer.