The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!

Black Cohosh

Scientific Names

Black Cohosh

  • Cimicifuga racemosa L.
  • Ranunculaceae
  • Buttercup family

Common Names

  • Black cohush
  • Black snakeroot
  • Bugbane
  • Bugwort
  • Cimicifuga
  • Rattleroot
  • Rattleweed
  • Richweed
  • Snakeroot
  • Squawroot

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Parts Usually Used

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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

A tall growing, unpleasantly scented, woodland perennial plant, 3-8 feet high. The large creeping, knotty rootstock, scarred with the remains of old growth, produces a stem of up to 9 feet in height. Large compound leaves thrice-divided; sharply toothed; terminal leaflet 3-lobed, middle lobe is the largest. Small, fetid, flowers are white and strong smelling, in very long, slender, fluffy, spikes, terminating tall leafy stalks, each flower has numerous white stamens and no petals; May to September. Tufts of stamens conspicuous. Flowers ultimately give way to small, round seed pods with several seeds. When the stalk is shaken, the seeds rattle within their pods, producing a sound similar to a rattlesnake, thus the nickname “rattleroot”. Grown in shade or full sun, but is grown more vigorously in the sun. Zones 3-10. Not heat-tolerant. Wiry stems with divided dark green leaves and wandlike racemes of white flowers is very showy.
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Where Found

Rich upland woods, hillsides and woods at higher elevations. Southern Ontario to Georgia; Missouri to Wisconsin. Native of North America.
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Medicinal Properties

Alterative, astringent, diuretic, alterative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue (starts menstrual flow), expectorant, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, cardiac stimulant (safer than digitalis), anti-inflammatory, sedative, antitussive, uterine stimulant
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Biochemical Information

Actaeine, cimicifungin (macrotin), estrogenic substances, isoferulic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, phosphorus, recemosin, tannins, starch, gum, triterpenes, and vitamins A and B5.
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Legends, Myths and Stories

Cimicifuga (C. racemosa) comes from the Latin “to drive away”, so named because certain species are used to drive away bugs and other insects.
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Insoluble in water. Tincture used for bronchitis, chorea, menstrual irregularities, stimulates kidney, restores digestive system to normal, fever, nervous disorders, chorea (St. Vitus’ Dance), lumbago, rheumatism, measles, scarlet fever, smallpox. Traditionally important for “female ailments”, painful menses and helps in labor and delivery during childbirth. Research has confirmed estrogenic, hypoglycemic, sedative, and anti-inflammatory activity. Applied as poultice to wounds.
Helps relieve sinusitis, persistent coughs, bronchitis, whooping cough, headache, and asthma. Lowers cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Relives pain, palpitations, panic attacks, relieves muscle spasms, neuralgia, morning sickness, and menstrual cramps. Helpful for poisonous bites. Can be used as an antidote for the venom of snakebites. Reduces mucus levels. The liquid obtained from boiling the roots can be used to treat diarrhea in children.

Combined with skullcap, wood betony, passionflower, and valerian, black cohosh works as a mild tranquilizer.

Black cohosh has the same effects on the female system as synthetic estrogen, without the side effects. Best of all, Black cohosh has no cancer causing agents like synthetic estrogen.
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Formulas or Dosages

Collect the rootstock in the fall, after the leaves have died down and the fruit has appeared.

Decoction: boil 2 tsp. rootstock in 1 pint of water. Take 2 to 3 tbsp. 6 times a day, cold.

Fluid extract: a dose is from 5-30 drops in liquid daily.

Tincture: made by half-filling a pint or quart bottle with the powdered root, adding diluted alcohol (not rubbing alcohol) or whisky until the bottle is full, and agitating once or twice a day for two weeks. Doses range from 1-30 drops in a tsp. of water.
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How Sold

Capsules: take 1 capsule 3 times per day.

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This plant must only be used in small quantities since strong or large doses cause nausea and vomiting, symptoms of poisoning.

Avoid during pregnancy until labor and only under supervision of a doctor.
Do not take if any type of chronic disease is present.
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Resource Links Medical Information About Black Cohosh Black Cohosh During Pregnancy

University of Maryland Medical Center: Black Cohosh

National Center for Complementary and Altenative Medicine: Black Cohosh

American Academy of Family Physicians: Black Cohosh Black Cohosh

National Institute of Health: Black Cohosh

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Medical Center: Black Cohosh

National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Black Cohosh Alternative and complementary therapies for the menopause.

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Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

Buy It! Earl Mindell’s Herb Bible, by Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., Simon & Schuster/Fireside, Rockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Herbal Gardening, compiled by The Robison York State Herb Garden, Cornell Plantations, Matthaei Botanical Gardens of the University of Michigan, University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley., Pantheon Books, Knopf Publishing Group, New York, 1994, first edition

Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fifth Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements, by James F. Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C., Avery Publishing Group, Inc., Garden City Park, NY

Buy It! Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, 15th Edition, F. A. Davis Company, 1915 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! An Instant Guide to Medicinal Plants, by Pamela Forey and Ruth Lindsay, Crescent Books (January 27, 1992).

Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

Buy It! A Useful Guide to Herbal Health Care, HCBL (Health Center for Better Living).,1414 Rosemary Lane, Naples, FL 34103., Special Sale Catalog, 1996

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

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