An herb entry from the Ancient Herbs and Modern Herbs book by James K. Sayre, Copyright, 2001. All rights reserved.
Black Cohosh - Cimicifuga racemosa - family: Ranunculaceae (Crowfoot Family) (Buttercup Family).
This is a rhizome-based perennial plant that is native to the wooded regions of eastern North America. It grows up to about eight feet high. Its foliage has an unpleasant odor. It has sharply-toothed compound leaves and in the spring and summer produces long spikes (racemes) of white flowers, which are followed by seeds enclosed in pods. When the seeds dry, they will rattle in their pods, hence some of the folknames, such as Rattle-top. Native American Indian traditional use of the blackish rhizomes for relief from the pain of arthritis, rheumatism, menstrual cramps and to ease childbirth. Modern western use of roots as a remedy for blurred vision, coughs, headaches, high blood pressure, lack of menstrual flow, menopause, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), rheumatism, sciatica and slipped disks. Approved by the German Commission E as a remedy for menopause, menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS), Modern American folk use as an external remedy for neuralgia, rheumatism and sciatica. Also used as an American folk remedy for tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Note: poisonous in large doses: side effects may include: diarrhea, nausea, lower blood pressure, lower heart rate and vomiting. Note: some authorities suggest not using during pregnancy. Listed in the United States Pharmacopoeias from 1820 to 1920. Native to eastern and central North America. Cultivated as an ornamental in North America.
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Web page last updated on 20 May 2003.