Black Cohosh

Black Cohosh (formally known as Cimicifuga racemosa), comes under the family Ranunculaceae, Genus and species Actea racemosa. This recurrent herb is a shrub which grows to a height of about 8 feet and the flowers are like long plumes and whitish in color. “Cohosh” is a Indian word denoting “rough” as the roots of the plant has a rough structure and is black in color and hence the name “Black Cohosh”.

Other universal names are Black snakeroot, Squawroot, Bugbane, Rattle root, Bugwort, and Rattle weed. The dried rhizome and the roots are said to possess medicinal powers. Black Cohosh is rich in Acetic, Isoferulic, Butyric, Palmitic, Oleic, Tannic, Salicylic, Gallic and Ascorbic acid as well as Formononetin, Cimicifugin and Actein.

A native of North America it is found to grow in southern Canada, along mountains of Appalachian range, and in south it is found in Georgia and also in Missouri. Majorly found on hillsides & open woods that have rich and moist soil. They have pinnate shaped, composite leaves which have asymmetrical tooth leaflets and a complex rootstock. The fresh flowers are highly aromatic and act as successful insect repellents.

Some of the medicinal properties of the herb are outlined below:

  • It has toning properties that soothes aches, pains, coughs, and fevers.
  • Help Stimulate uterus.
  • The isoflavonoids and triterpenoids present in the plant makes the herb a selective estrogen-receptor modulator and thus suppress the effect of pituitary luteinizing hormone.
  • It is spasmolytic, vasodilatory and hypotensive.
  • Used in treating depression and hot flushes.
  • Used as a remedy for dysmenorrhoea (pain undergone during the menstrual cycle), dyspepsia, rheumatism, and arthritis.
  • Lowers blood pressure and controls cholesterol levels.
  • Native Americans used the herb for treating gynecological problems and to assist in post natal recovery.
  • Use in aromatherapy for making essential oils.
  • It is a potent cardiac stimulator and has a tranquilizing effect on the nervous system.
  • Help in reducing the secretion of progesterone by the ovaries and alternatively increases secretion of estrogen thereby minimizing the chances of undergoing estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) in women during menopause.
  • The herb is put to use as an alterative, antidote, anti-inflammatory,  astringent, birthing aid, cardio-tonic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue (to promote menstruation), expectorant, hypnotic,  and tonic .

Excessive intake may cause nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, tremors, depressed heart rate and miscarriage. Intake levels of more than 5 gms/day or 3 months could prove toxic. Those who have hormone dependant cancers should not use this herb.

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