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Cimicifuga racemosaCimicifuga racemosa (Ranunculaceae)

BLACK COHOSH, BLACK SNAKEROOT, RATTLEROOT, SQUAWROOT

 

Black cohosh was discovered by North American Indians, and was introduced to Europe in the 19th century. Herbalists give it for inflammatory conditions associated with pain, coughs, and leucorrhoea ( excessive white vaginal discharge). Related species are used in Chinese medicine.

 

North American Indians claimed this herb cured the poisonous bites of rattlesnakes and also used it to ease the pain of menstruation and childbirth. Native to North America, where it grows in open woodland, it is perennial with a black root, serrated leaflets, and strong-smelling, creamy-white flowers in summer.

 

PARTS USED

Root and rhizome collected in autumn.

 

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS

Ranunculin, which converts to anemonin; triterpene glycosides, including actein, cimifugine, and racemoside; isoflavones.

 

ACTIONS

Anti-inflammatory; sedative; reduces muscle tension and spasm; stimulates nutrition and elimination; dilates the blood vessels.

 

MEDICINAL USE

Given for muscular rheumatism, neuralgia, muscle cramps, and other inflammatory conditions associated with pain such as painful periods. Also used to treat leucorrhoea (excessive pale white vaginal discharge) and the paroxysmal coughing of bronchitis or whooping cough. Related species (C. simplex and C. foetida) are used in Chinese medicine for headaches and certain fevers.

 

PREPARATIONS

Decoction, tincture.

 

CAUTION

High doses are dangerous, use only on the advice of a qualified practitioner, and avoid in pregnancy.

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