Avoid the uncertainty of adulterated Chinese black cohosh!

International Conference on the Science of Botanicals
October 11, 2013
October 11, 2013

Avoid the uncertainty of adulterated Chinese black cohosh!

Today’s American Botanical Council Member Advisory recaps a major article published regarding concerns surrounding black cohosh adulteration, which follows on the heels of yesterday’s comment from the Nutritional Business Journal “Fear Report” about safety in ingredient sourcing.

The concerns about black cohosh adulteration have been growing along with the increased market demand for black cohosh. Although the National Institutes of Health conclude that clinical research results on black cohosh do not support a recommendation on the use of black cohosh for menopause symptoms, demand continues to grow as women seek alternatives to HRT and pharmaceutical drugs. Many of those women are simply not getting the genuine North American black cohosh they pay for. 

It’s a sad fact that increased market demand leads to “economic adulteration” which is the substitution of inferior or look-alike species for genuine herbs. “The sheer volume of offerings, prices ranges, varied specifications, and differing species listed as ‘black cohosh extract’ from Chinese sources requires that the daunted buyer [in the herb industry] attempting to source black cohosh work closely with a qualified analytical lab to authenticate black cohosh extracts before securing any supply source,” the ABC recap says. And remember NBJ’s advice to follow up botanical authentication testing with “boots on the ground” overseas to meet and vet suppliers directly. We are your boots on the ground.

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Exploring the Peripatetic Maze of Black Cohosh Adulteration,” is the full new report by noted author and photographer Steven Foster, which has been published in the latest issue of HerbalGram, the peer-reviewed journal of the nonprofit American Botanical Council (ABC).

Federal law provides that only Actaea racemosa may be sold in the U.S. as genuine black cohosh. But there are numerous look alike species from China which may find their way into the products you buy. There is simply no excuse for this anymore. FDA laws regulating dietary supplements require authentication of herbal ingredients. And industry testing methodology is readily available to confirm authenticity. “In our view, anyone offering for sale the Chinese species of Actaea (primarily A. cimicifuga, A. dahurica, A. heracleifolia, and Asimplex) as ‘black cohosh’ is most likely knowingly selling adulterated material. This is likely fraud, and such sellers of these adulterants should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” advises Mark Blumenthal, Founder and Executive Director of the American Botanical Council.

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