Cimicifuga 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.
Root and rhizome collected in autumn.
Ranunculin, which converts to
anemonin; triterpene glycosides, including actein, cimifugine, and racemoside; isoflavones.
Anti-inflammatory; sedative; reduces muscle tension and spasm; stimulates nutrition and elimination; dilates the blood vessels.
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.
High doses are dangerous, use only on the advice of a qualified practitioner, and avoid in pregnancy.