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 Herbal Materia Medica: Black Cohosh  
Cimicifuga racemosa


Names: Black Snakeroot, Bugbane, Rattleroot, Rattleweed, Squawroot.

Habitat: USA and Canada.

Collection: The roots are unearthed with the rhizome in autumn after the fruits have ripened. They should be cut lengthwise and dried carefully.

Part Used: Root and rhizome; dried, not fresh.


  • Triterpene glycosides, including actein, cimigoside, cimifugine (=macrotin), racemoside
  • Isoflavones such as formononetin
  • Isoferulic acid
  • Miscellaneous; volatile oil, tannin.
Actions: Emmenagogue, anti-spasmodic, alterative, nervine, hypotensive.

Indications: Black Cohosh is a most valuable herb that has a powerful action as a relaxant and a normalizer of the female reproductive system. It maybe used beneficially in cases of painful or delayed menstruation. Ovarian cramps or cramping pain in the womb will be relieved by Black Cohosh. It is very active in the treatment of rheumatic pains, but also in rheumatoid arthritis, osteo-arthritis, in muscular and neurological pain. It finds use in sciatica andneuralgia. As a relaxing nervine it may be used in many situations where such an agent is needed. It has been found beneficial in cases of tinnitus. Because of the wealth of accrued experience, it is worth quoting from Kings American Dispensatory:

Kings "This is a very active, powerful, and useful remedy, and appears to fulfill a great number of indications. It possesses an undoubted influence over the nervous system. In small doses the appetite and digestion are improved, and larger amounts augment the secretions of the gastro-intestinal tract. Excretions from the skin and kidneys are increased by it, the peculiar earthy odor of the drug being imparted to the urine; the secretions of the bronchial mucous surfaces are also augmented under its administration. The heart-beat is slowed and given increased power by it, while arterial tension is elevated.

Upon the reproductive organs it exerts a specific influence, promoting the menstrual discharge, and by its power of increasing contractility of the unstriped fibers of the uterus, it acts as an efficient parturient. The venereal propensity in man is said to be stimulated by Cimicifuga.

Few of our remedies have acquired as great a reputation in the treatment of rheumatism and neuralgia. Indeed, few cases of rheumatism, or conditions depending upon a rheumatic basis, will present, which will not be influenced for the better by Cimicifuga. Rheumatism of the heart, diaphragm, psoasmuscles, "lumbago" "stiff neck" in fact all cases characterized by that kind of pain known as "rheumatic" dull, tensive intermittent, as if dependent upon a contracted state of muscular fibre, soreness in muscular tissue, especially over the abdomen and in the extensor and flexor muscles of the extremities, all yield readily to it.

Muscular pain of a rheumatoid character, when not amounting to a true rheumatic attack, and other rheumatoid pains when acute and not of spinal origin such as gastralgia, enteralgia, tenesmic vesical pains, pleurodynia, pain in the mediastina orbits or ears, are relieved by Cimicifuga. In diseases of the ear the drug is indicated when the condition is aggravated by rheumatic association, or in neuralgia of the parts with stiffness in the faucial and pharyngeal muscles. In eye strain, giving rise to headache, and associated with a sensation of stiffness in the ocular muscles, or a bruised feeling in the muscles of the frontal region, it will give marked benefit. In doses of 1 fluid drachm of the tincture, repeated every hour, it has effected thorough cures of acute conjunctivitis, without the aid of any local application.

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 About The Author
David Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMHWhilst 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......more
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