Cimicifuga racemosa AKA Actaea racemosa
Snakeroot, Blacksnake root, Macrotys, Bugbane, Squaw Root, Rattle Root
This perennial is a member of the buttercup family and native to the woodlands of North America. It has tall white feathery racemes (flower spikes) and thick knobby roots. The leaves are divided into threes, with trifoliate terminal leaflets. The thick, blackish rhizome is what is usually used in medicine.
History and Folklore
Cohosh is a Native American word for “rough”, referring to the knobby rhizome, which is the useful part. Black Cohosh has been in Native American medicine for centuries and was used as also used by European settlers.
Sow seeds as soon as the frost is gone. Prefers moist soil, partial shade.
Harvesting & Storage
Collect the fat black rhizome in the fall after the leaves have died back.
Use in sachets for love, courage, and potency or add to the bath. Add to holy water and sprinkle around the room to drive off negative influences.
Roots and rhizomes are used for female reproductive complaints, such as PMS and menopause. It has been the subject of many research studies and is believed to work by suppressing the excretion of Luteinizing hormone, which causes ovulation. LH hormone has been linked to night flashes and hot sweats during menopause. Adverse effects are uncommon with short term use and include dizziness, headache, giddiness, nausea, and vomiting. Long term adverse effects may include abdominal pain, uterine irritation, abnormal blood clotting, and liver problems. There are no known significant adverse drug interactions.
Black Cohosh can be used at the end of a pregnancy to help ripen the cervix. It has also been used in conjunction with other herbs to terminate an unwanted pregnancy in the first month or two. Thus, anyone who is pregnant and wishes to stay that way should stay away from it.
Black Cohosh can also be used for rheumatism, lung conditions, and neurological conditions.
Do not confuse black cohosh with blue cohosh, they are quite different and blue cohosh is much more toxic.
Black Cohosh should not be taken by anyone who has been advised not to take birth control pills or by anyone who has heart problems or a history of cancer. Black Cohosh should not be used with antidepressants.
Should not be used for more than six months at a time.