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Black Cohosh

Black Cohosh
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Black Cohosh
Article by Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions © November 23, 2010 published – all rights reserved.
Original and extensive article at http://www.treeleavesoracle.org/treelore/?p=1215

Cimicifuga racemosa, Actea racemosa [ Plantae: Magnoliophyta: Magnoliopsida: Ranunculales: Ranunculaceae: Actaea: Cimicifuga racemosa, Actea racemosa ]

Common Names: black cohosh, black bugbane, black snakeroot, macrotys, bugbane, bugwort, rattleroot, rattleweed, or fairy candle

North America; extreme south of Ontario south to central Georgia; west to Missouri and Arkansas; Found throughout areas of eastern and central United States.


Black Cohosh is part of the buttercup family. It is a tall smooth glabrous herbaceous perennial plant that has large compound leaves sprouting up from an underground rhizome reaching a height of 25-60 centimeters. Its leaves grow upwards of 1 meter long and broad in repeated sets of three leaflets and having a coarsely toothed serrated margin. It blossoms flowers in late spring and early summer on a tall stem roughly 75-250 cm tall forming racemes upwards of 50 cm in length with no petals or sepals, rather tight clusters of 55-110 white 5-10 mm long stamens surrounding a white stigma and hosting a sweet fetid smell attracting flies, gnats, and beetles. It produces a dry follicle fruit 5-10 mm long with a carpel containing several seeds.

The plant grows in a variety of woodland habitats especially small woodland openings. In a garden, best sown in dependably moist fairly heavy soil.

Common Uses:
The juice of the plant is used as an insect repellent.

Culinary Uses:

Medicinal Uses:
Extracts have analgesic, sedative, and anti-inflammatory properties. Roots and rhizomes used primarily for women’s health, it was used by Native Americans and is currently used for menstrual cramps, hot flashes, arthritis, muscle pain, sore throats, coughs, kidney problems, depression, and indigestion. A salve made of Black Cohosh is used to treat snake bites. Today in herbal healing and homeopathy, it is used to treat hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, vaginal dryness, menopause, menstrual cramps, menopausal symptoms, mood disturbances, heart palpitations, and bloating. It is the fresh or dried roots and underground stems (rhizones) that is used for herbal treating. Its active chemical compound is 26-deoxyactein. Science has found that Black Cohosh will improve some menopausal symptoms short term for upwards of six months. It hasn’t been determined as per the safety in used for pregnant or breastfeeding women or children. It is sometimes used by midwives to induce labor. It is not recommended for those with hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, ovaries cancer, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, hormone replacement therapy, oral contraceptives, using cisplatin for chemotherapy, or other conditions without discussing with a physician first. Side effects can include indigestion, headaches, nauseau, perspiration, vomiting, heaviness in the legs, weight gain, and low blood pressure; while excessive use could cause liver damage, seizures, visual disturbances, and slow or irregular heartbeats. Black Cohosh also contains salicylic acid, so is reactant to those allergic to aspirin or salicylates.

Magical Uses:

Folklore and History: Traditionally Black Cohosh was used by various Native American tribes as a folk remedy for women’s health conditions. It is believed to possess estrogen-like essences and therefore very helpful in treating women concerns, and while it works, science has not yet been able to explain its process of success.

Black Cohosh
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland


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