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Valentine's: Columbia Studies of Black Cohosh, Whole Foods for Women Need $$ for Datat PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Valentine's Appeal: Columbia Studies of Black Cohosh, Whole Foods for Women's Health Seek $$ for Data Analysis

Summary: Picture these. A top notch study on the value of a whole foods diet for women, looking at bone health, heart disease and breast cancer. A second NIH-funded study on black cohosh in limiting hot flashes. Now imagine that the treasured outcomes of this research are sitting, figuratively, at the bottom of the sea, unavailable to us. I learned recently that this is the case with two projects run by Fredi Kronenberg, PhD, founder of the Rosenthal Center for Complementary Medicine at Columbia University. I decided as a Valentine's appeal to use the Integrator as part of Kronenberg's work to cast a web to find the donors who will help us extract the value from this work ...

Black cohosh, from
Last month, the Integrator featured work of the American Botanical Council (ABC) to bring balance to the media accounts of a highly publicized, negative trial of black cohosh to limit hot flashes in menopausal women. The dozen previous trials of black cohosh had all shown positive. I learned that a separate trial, also NIH-funded, was near completion at the Rosenthal Center for Complementary Medicine at Columbia University with
Fredi Kronenberg, PhD, as principal investigator. I knew that Kronenberg has served for years as a trustee of ABC, and had co-founded the main botanical course in conventional academic medicine. I was intrigued by the results that she would be publishing.

A few weeks later, I got a call from Kronenberg. The news was, well, not good. Not about black cohosh's efficacy. Rather, about her trial. Make that two trials - one on black cohosh and the second an examination of the potential value to women of whole foods nutrition for their hearts, and protecting against bone loss and breast cancer. In both, Kronenberg's team have captured the data but they are sitting, figuratively, in a treasure chest at the bottom of the sea.

who has floated that Center without institutional support for the last dozen years based on research and external grants, was unable to secure additional NIH funding to complete the work in either trial. Now she's working full-time trying to locate just the right part of the philanthropic universe: individuals who have the ability to lay down a good chunk of the $250,000 per study Kronenberg needs to keep her Columbia research team together and finish the work.

Fredi Kronenberg, PhD, Columbia Rosenthal Center director and researcher
There are many funding needs out there. Each Integrator reader probably has one or more projects for which capital would be useful, thank you. (More than a few of you know that I am always scratching about to create support for the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care and for the Integrator.) So I am not sure what got into me with this. Perhaps it is long-time respect for ABC's work, and Kronenberg's early leadership in botanical education. Perhaps it was mystification over the continuing pattern of NIH-funded studies suggesting botanicals are without worth after many others have shown a botanical to be beneficial. Maybe what is influencing me to publish this appeal is the content of the two studies combined with the proximity to Valentine's Day.

At any rate, here are two documents from Kronenberg. Maybe one or more of you are, or know, just the right people who will want to make sure treasure is brought up from the bottom of the data sea and made available to help with the health of some worthy Valentines among us. Kronenberg can be reached at
(212) 342-0111.

A Funding Appeal to Benefit Women’s Health


Women should have the right to choose healthy treatments based on good science. 

There are insufficient funds with which to complete two studies of importance to women; thus, the studies are at risk of having to close before the data are analyzed and published.  The studies have been funded to date by the National Institutes of Health but now, due to reductions in Federal funding for research, are one step short of completion.

Information on the safety and efficacy of non-hormonal approaches to menopause-related health problems.
  • Research data on alternatives to hormone therapy for menopausal women seeking treatment for hot flashes, maintenance of heart and bone health
  • Research data on ways to optimize overall health and wellbeing for women during menopausal years.


Two clinical studies of great importance to women have been completed and the data are ready to be analyzed.  The studies involve menopausal women and the quest for healthy alternatives to hormone therapy.  They exami
ne the:

  • Effect of the herbal remedy, black cohosh, for treating hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms
  • Effect of eating more whole foods (beans, grains, fruit, vegetables) on maintenance of heart and bone health and risk for breast cancer

The opportunity to determine the safety and efficacy of an herbal treatment for hot flashes, and the effect of healthy diets on the cardiovascular and skeletal health of women as they age  and provide critical information valuable to the healthcare decision-making of women

To raise awareness about healthy alternatives to hormone therapy by funding the completion of two studies vital to improving the women’s health.
$250,000 is needed to complete each project.  All contributions are tax-deductible and appropriate recognition will be provided to funders who sponsor the completion of these critical studies.  To discuss your potential support, or for more interest on the studies, please contact:  Dr. Fredi Kronenberg, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons (212-342-0111).



Black Cohosh and Whole Foods Nutrition for Menopausal Health: Questions About Hormone Therapy and a Search for Alternative Approaches

Hormone replacement therapy has long been the medical gold standard for maintenance of health of menopausal women. It was thought to prevent heart disease, maintain skeletal health and mental functioning, and to relieve hot flashes and other symptoms that disrupt daily life.

This view changed with the results and termination of the government-funded Women’s Health Initiative study. The study was halted when predetermined safety endpoints defined unacceptable risk with long term use of estrogen and progesterone.  The risks included increased cardiovascular events, stroke, venous thromboembolism, cognitive decline, and breast cancer. Thus, purported health benefits of hormone therapy have either been disproved, modified or are now discounted by women who fear increased health risks associated with taking hormones.

Six years ago, with funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research in Aging and Women’s Health was established.  The Center’s goal has been to research important questions about how herbs and diet might influence hormonal function and the health of women as they age, focusing on hot flashes and other symptoms associated with menopause, cardiovascular and bone health, and breast cancer.  We designed studies to address these issues, which have assumed even greater importance in recent years.

Many women, more reluctant than ever to take estrogen therapy, are turning to “natural” alternatives to treat their hot flashes, and looking to food and other lifestyle changes for healthier bones and heart.  The market is flooded with herbal preparations and other dietary supplements for menopausal women. This includes many forms of black cohosh, an herb native to the U.S., and soy foods and other beans and grains that are touted for their estrogenic properties.  It is of critical importance for women to have a range of choices that are both effective and safe in addressing the various problems that arise in the menopausal years.

As of yet, clinical studies are too few for definitive conclusions. Our research addresses these questions and will provide information about the value of black cohosh and whole foods diets as alternatives to estrogen therapy with respect to the treatment of menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes - and including related concerns such as cognitive function, bone and heart health.

Our goal is to increase knowledge about more natural approaches to healthy aging, so that women and their doctors will be able to make better informed choices.  The information to be gained is important for public health and will contribute to improving the wellbeing of women.









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