Black Haw : Cramp Bark : Black Cohosh : Motherwort : Pasque Flower
The richness of uterine tonics in the North American materia medica is often
squandered through a lax over use of the idea of toning. The differential
indications of these valuable remedies is worth exploring in some depth.
The best sources of information are the writings of the old eclectics and
physiomedicals, based as they are on extensive experience and observation.
The material that follows consists of direct quotes. Please note the
19 th. century usage of terms and concepts. The sometimes overtly sexist
language is not mine!
Amenorrhoea & Dysmenorrhoea
King's a powerful emmenagogue it promotes delivery,
Cook It is a moderate diffusive, stimulating and relaxing
in about equal degrees, spending its main powers upon the nervous system.
These qualities make it one of the very best of anti-spasmodics, to relieve
nervous feebleness with irritability, as in crampings of the bowels, twitching
of the muscles in typhoid and parturient cases, hysteria, painful menstruation,
colic, etc. Its efficacy in these cases is remarkable; and it is also a
valuable adjunct to other suitable agents in the treatment of puerperal
convulsions, epilepsy, and chorea. It enjoys deserved reputation in neuralgic
forms of rheumatism, especially that form which passes with some as chronic
inflammation of the womb. It sustains the nervous system, but at the same
time soothes it; and is of especial service in strengthening and relieving
painful functional difficulties of the female generative organs.
King's In painful menstruation it has been found
especially adapted to those cases in which there is pelvic fullness, a sensation
as if the womb and rectum were distended with blood, and the aching, bearing-down
organs feel as if they would fall out of the body. Its action here is very
decided when the smaller doses are employed.
Kings Upon the reproductive organs it exerts a
specific influence, promoting the menstrual discharge, and by its power
of increasing contractility of the unstriated fibres of the uterus, it acts
as an efficient parturient. The venereal propensity in man is said to be
stimulated by Cimicifuga. By its special affinity for the female
reproductive organs, it is an efficient agent for the restoration of suppressed
menses. It is even a better remedy in that variety of amenorrhoea
termed absentio mesium. Cimicifuga plays a very important
part in the therapeutics of gynecology. It is a remedy for atony of the
reproductive tract. In the painful conditions incident to imperfect menstruation,
its remedial action is fully displayed. In dysmenorrhoea it is surpassed
by no other drug, being of greatest utility in irritative and congestive
conditions of the uterus and appendages, characterized by tensive, dragging
pains, resembling the pains of rheumatism.
Cooks Its action on the uterus is well marked - relieving neuralgia
and rheumatism of this organ, proving efficient in painful menstruation
accompanied by tardiness...
Ellingwood In menstrual disorders, accompanied with aching
or muscular soreness and cool skin. Relieves amenorrhoea with these symptoms;
will control congestive dysmenorrhoea. Its influence here is enhanced by
aconite or belladonna. Is beneficial in menorrhagia and metrorrhagia; is
given in menstrual irregularities of young girls.
King's It is very efficient in promoting the menstrual
flow, and may be given alone, in infusion, or in combination, in amenorrhoea,
not connected with some structural lesion. It will also be found valuable
in dysmenorrhoea, sterility, and chlorosis.
Ellingwood Relieves nervous irritation mildly, restores tonicity;
promotes normal regular flow, in atonic cases, and prevents excesses; must
be given during the intermission and during the period also, and continued
past two or three epochs.
King's It allays uterine irritation with a tendency
to terminate in hysteria, while in the neuralgic and spasmodic forms of
dysmenorrhoea, it is a favorite remedy with many physicians. The action
of this agent closely resembles that of the black haw, and there is reason
to believe that they are often used interchangeably for similar purpose.
The following forms an excellent preparation for the relief of spasmodic
cramp bark, 2 ounces;
Have all in powder, coarsely bruised, and add to them 2 quarts of good sherry
or native wine. Dose, 1 or 2 fluid ounces, 2 or 3 times a day.
skunk-cabbage, of each, 1 ounce;
cloves, 1/2 ounce;
capsicum 2 drachms.
Cook it is chiefly employed in hysteria, painful
menstruation, neuralgia and rheumatism of the womb, and
the uterine crampings incident to pregnancy.
King's In amenorrhoea in pale, bloodless subjects,
the menses are restored by it. In dysmenorrhoea, with deficient menses,
uterine colic, and in those cases where there are severe lumbar and bearing-down
pains, it will prove an efficient drug. It is specifically indicated in
cramp-like menstrual pains, decidedly expulsive and intermittent in character
and in the various painful contractions of the pelvic muscles, so common
to disorders of women. Uterine congestion and chronic uterine inflammation
are often greatly relieved by specific black haw. It acts promptly in spasmodic
dysmenorrhoea. especially with excessive flow.
Ellingwood Indicated in dysmenorrhoea, with cramp-like or spasmodic
pains. Corrects nervous irritation and sympathetic disturbances, a tonic
and corrective in persistent irregularity, either in time or quantity
Tonic & Other Gynecological Uses
King's As a gynecian remedy it has been employed
to relieve irritation of the reproductive organs as if dependent on congestion.
It controls chronic inflammatory states of these organs and gives tone in
cases of debility. In the sexual disorders of the female it is indicated
by tenderness and pain in the uterus, in debilitated patients.
It has been very successfully used in cases of hysteria to overcome
the attack, and to relieve ovarian, or mammary pain, or irritation
when accompanying that disorder. Chronic corporeal, or cervical endometritis,
metritis, ovaritis, ovaralgia, uterine leucorrhoea,
amenorrhoea, and dysmenorrhoea, are conditions in which it
has been most successfully employed. It has an established reputation as
a remedy for rheumatism of the uterus, with nervous excitement, for uterine
cramps attending menstruation, and for menorrhagia, depending
on uterine subinvolution.
King's In diseases of the reproductive organs of
females, and especially of the uterus, it is one of our most valuable agents,
acting as a uterine tonic, and gradually removing abnormal conditions, while
at the same time it imparts tone and vigor to the reproductive organs. Hence,
it is much used in leucorrhoea, amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, and to remove
the tendency to repeated and successive miscarriages. A particular phase
removed by it is the irritability and despondency that often attends uterine
Cook ...its most prominent and valuable action is upon the
uterine organs; where it scarcely has an equal in atonic forms of prolapsus,
leucorrhea, passive hemorrhage and menorrhagia, and similar enfeebled conditions.
While its use in sensitive patients and irritable uterine conditions is
to be avoided, it can be employed to the greatest advantage in flaccid and
prostrated states for the maladies above named. Though in no sense an astringent,
its tonic influence is peculiarly efficacious in arresting too excessive
menstruation and lochia, when associated with laxity and depression.
Ellingwood Has a pronounced tonic influence, in general relaxation
and feebleness of uterine structures. Specific in prolapsus, with a dragging
or pulling down sensation in lower abdomen. When there is pelvic engorgement
Kings If the patient be despondent and chilly,
combine Cimicifuga with Pulsatilla, especially in anemic subjects.
It is a good remedy for the reflex side-aches of the unmarried
woman; also for mastitis and mastodynia. It should be remembered
in rheumatism of the uterus, and in uterine leucorrhoea, with a flabby
condition of the viscus, its effects are decided. When there is a disordered
action or lack of functional power in the uterus, giving rise to sterility,
Cimicifuga often corrects the impaired condition and cures. Reflex
mammary pains during gestation are met by it, and in rheumatic subjects
it promptly relieves such ovarian troubles as ovarialgia and neuralgia,
the pain being of an aching character. Orchialgia and aching sensations
of the prostate are conditions calling for Cimicifuga , and
as a tonic it is not without good effects in spermatorrhoea.
Ellingwood Exercises a wide influence on the nerve centers,
and their blood supply. Is a mild motor depressant and nerve sedative. Positively
relieves muscular soreness or aching, induced or idiopathic, from whatever
cause. Relieves erratic nervous conditions; acts directly upon the reproductive
King's It seems to have an especial affinity for
the uterus, exerting a powerful tonic and alterative influence upon this
organ, and has hence been found highly beneficial in many uterine derangements,
as in amenorrhoea some forms of dysmenorrhoea, menorrhagia, chronic congestion
of the uterus, enfeebled uterine nervous system, etc.
Cook The greater portion of its power is expended upon the
uterus, where its action is tonic and moderately antispasmodic; but it also
influences the kidneys, testes, and the entire nervous system as connected
with the generative organs. The chief value set upon it by most physicians
is for its soothing and strengthening influence upon the uterus in hysteria,
leucorrhea, prolapsus, and rheumatic or neuralgic pains, and chronic painful
King's ... exerts a peculiar influence upon
the reproductive organs, and particularly of the female, which has given
to it the name of Female regulator. This is one of our valuable remedies
in the treatment of female diseases. It relieves irritation and strengthens
functional activity. Ovarian or uterine atony, with impairment of function,
increased mucous or mucopurulent secretions, or displacements of the womb
and vaginal prolapse, are the chief guides to its use.
Cook The chief use made of it is as a nervine tonic in female
weaknesses, and a mild yet reliable promoter of menstruation. For neuralgia
and rheumatism of the womb, the achings and crampings incident
to gestation, and mild cases of leucorrhea and prolapsus,
it is of much value; also in uterine hysteria, and the feeble appetite and
aching of the back suffered by so many females; possibly also acting on
the kidneys. While it promotes menstruation in languid and partially
atonic amenorrhea, it does so mostly by virtue of its efficient tonic
action; and it is in no sense a forcing emmenagogue, but rather aids passive
menorrhagia by giving tone to the uterus.
Ellingwood Indicated in atonic disorders of uterine function
with much loss of tone and general relaxation; in misplacement from this
cause; in passive congestion with feebleness and flaccidity; increases ovarian
activity, and overcomes sterility. Acts somewhat upon and through the central
King's Its principal use at the present day is
in disorders of the female organs of reproduction. As a uterine tonic it
is unquestionably of great utility. It restores normal innervation, improves
the circulation and corrects impaired nutrition of these organs. In the
hyperasthetic, or irritable condition of the uterus incident to highly nervous
women, or as the result of overwork, it will be found an admirable agent.
It is called for in weakened conditions of the body, with feeble performance
of the uterine functions.
Ellingwood Acts mildly as a nerve sedative and antispasmodic.
Produces muscular relaxation, and reduction of reflux irritation. Corrects
nervous irritation during pregnancy. Has atonic and soothing influence on
the entire uterine structures. Regulates sympathetic disturbances, from
uterine irritation. Overcomes sterility
King's As a partus preparator Caulophyllum
has enjoyed a well merited reputation. When used by delicate women, or those
who experience prolonged and painful labors, for several weeks previous
to confinement, it gives tone and vigor to all the parts engaged in the
accouchement, facilitating its progress, and relieving much suffering.
Cook ...previous to parturition to give tone and comfort to
King's It is considered useful by some for the
relief of the vomiting of pregnancy.
Ellingwood Is not used alone, but in combination with Mitchella
and Cimicifuga produces a reliable compound. Does away with erratic
pain, and liability to accidents or malpositions.
Kings It is an excellent partus preparator
if given for several weeks before confinement. It is a diagnostic agent
to differentiate between spurious and true labor pains, the latter being
increased, while the former are dissipated under its use.
Ellingwood The most frequently used remedy for this purpose,
less reliable than Mitchella; removes erratic pains, and irregular
conditions; overcomes hysteria, soothes general muscular irritation; and
conducive to a normal, easy, short labor.
King's It is said that the squaws drink a decoction
of this plant for several weeks previous to their confinement, for the purpose
of rendering parturition safe and easy. Similar virtues have been ascribed
to it by competent physicians of our time.
Cook Used for several weeks before parturition, it allays the
uterine crampings incident to the latter period of gestation, and so strengthens
this organ as to make an easy labor much more probable.
Ellingwood Not active except to a limited extent;
used in conjunction with the other remedies. Indicated by extreme loss of
King's It is very effective in relaxing cramps
and spasms of all kinds, as asthma, hysteria, cramps of the limbs or other
parts in females, especially during pregnancy, and it is said to be highly
beneficial to those who are subject to convulsions during pregnancy, or
at the time of parturition, preventing the attacks entirely, if used daily
for the last 2 months of gestation. Like Viburnum prunifolium, it
is a remedy for the prevention of abortion, and to prepare the way for the
process of parturition.
King's Cramps of limbs attending pregnancy yield
to both black haw and cramp bark. It Is considered almost specific for cramp
in the legs, not dependent on pregnancy, especially when occurring at night.
False pains of pregnancy are readily controlled, and for after pains it
is nearly as valuable as Cimicifuga. Black haw promptly allays ovarian
Ellingwood Abates nerve irritation, restlessness, and hysterical
symptoms and erratic pains; contributes to a normal condition; prevents
morning sickness; induces cheerfulness and hopefulness and prevents accidents
Child Birth (Labor & After Labor)
King's Its use as a parturient originated
in the custom of the Indian squaws of employing a decoction of the root
for 2 or 3 weeks previous to labor to facilitate child-birth. There
is no doubt but that Caulophyllum has a decided action upon the gravid
uterus. During labor it relieves false pains and coordinates muscular
contractions, at the same time increasing their power. It stimulates normal
contraction instead of inducing spasmodic uterine action. It is most valuable
in those cases where delay is due to debility, fatigue, or lack of uterine
nervous energy, and for deficient contractions where the tissues feel full,
as if congested.
Cook It is one of the most valuable of all parturients,
when the uterine action is becoming weary; in which case it may be combined
with the Composition Powder; or with Cypripedium and a very little
Capsicum (or Bayberry) added when depression is considerable.
Ellingwood Is not used in labor for any direct
influence. The benefits obtained are secured by its previous use. After
labor it preserves tone in the structures, preventing involution, prolapsus
Kings Cimicifuga has proved a better agent
in obstetrical practice than ergot. It produces natural intermittent uterine
contractions, whereas ergot produces constant contractions, thereby endangering
the life of the child, or rupture of the uterus. Where the pains are inefficient,
feeble, or irregular, Cimicifuga will stimulate to normal action.
It is the best and safest agent known for the relief of after-pains, and
is effectual in allaying the general excitement of the nervous system after
labor. As a partus accelerator, it may be substituted for, and should be
preferred to, ergot; 1/2 drachm of the powdered root may be given in warm
water every 15 or 20 minutes, until the expulsive action of the uterus is
induced, and which it seldom fails to bring on speedily and powerfully.
In acute troubles, as acute muscular rheumatism, and in false pains, and
as an oxytocic, Webster prefers the strong decoction of the recent root
in tablespoonful doses. The fluid extract of black cohosh may be used in
all cases where the article is indicated; its dose is from 1/2 fluid drachm
to 2 fluid drachms. The ordinary dose for its specific effects is a teaspoonful
of a mixture of from 10 drops to 1 drachm of Cimicifuga tincture
in 4 ounces of water, the larger or smaller dose being determined by the
condition of the patient.
Cooks ... decidedly and powerfully expediting delivery when
the uterine action becomes weary and irritable.
Ellingwood A most reliable oxytocic; produces normal regular
intermittent pain; does away with erratic and irregular pains, especially
if of rheumatic or neuralgic origin. Prevents postpartum hemorrhage; relieves
nervous irritation. Relieves severe aching and muscular soreness, controls
postpartum hemorrhage, promotes normal involution; militates against the
recurrence of uterine misplacement; cures persistent leucorrhea, especially
if accompanied with relaxation and hypertrophy.
Cooks Used as a warm infusion, it expedites
parturition with great certainty in cases of uterine and nervous fatigue.
Ellingwood Is not depended upon during labor. After labor it
restores lochia, promotes normal uterine contractions, antagonizes a tendency
to relaxation; promotes normal after pains, and tends to prevent excessive
Ellingwood Promotes normal conditions, with regular
normal contractions, soothes undue muscular irritations. Prevents hemorrhage.
Restores normal tone following labor, as well as normal capillary circulation,
prevents subinvolution, prolapse, and malposition.
King's It is a good remedy for after pains,
especially when spasmodic in character. Caulophyllum acts as an anti-abortive
by relieving the irritation upon which the trouble depends. King states
that for this purpose it is fully equal to Viburnum.
Cook ...it rarely fails to arrest a threatened
abortion arising from the conditions (mentioned above). In these connections,
it is one of the most reliable tonics in the Materia Medica.
Ellingwood Not to be relied upon in emergency; of assistance
to prevent abnormal conditions, which induce habitual abortion.
Ellingwood Is not depended upon. Acts more like
ergot; is given only in small doses, for its specific indications.
King's Like Viburnum prunifolium, it is
a remedy for the prevention of abortion, and to prepare the way for the
process of parturition.
King's The condition for which black haw is most
valued is that of threatened abortion. It is the most prompt drug in the
materia medica to check abortion, provided the membranes have not ruptured.
In all cases of habitual abortion it should be given in small doses for
a considerable length of time. The abundant testimony as to its value in
this condition alone gives it a high place among drugs. By its quieting
effects upon the irritable womb, women who have previously been unable to
go to full term have been aided by this drug to pass through the pregnancy
without mishaps which would otherwise have proven disastrous to both child
and mother. Small doses of the specific black haw should be administered
throughout the dangerous period, and may be continued with good results
Cook The best use to be made of it, is as a tonic for uterine
weaknesses, as prolapsus with flaccidity of the structures, chronic leucorrhea,
and passive menorrhagia. .... This is an excellent treatment for threatened
abortion from feebleness.
Ellingwood The best of remedies for this purpose, reliable
in emergencies if given in full doses, frequently repeated. Reliable in
habitual abortion; will prevent induced abortion if membranes not ruptured.
Should be given in advance in habitual cases, and continued past the time.
About The Author
Whilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary wholeness and responsibility for it with hope, he as an individual had to be whole within himself....more