Introduction of Black Cohosh:black snake root or bugwort.

Popular Herbs. ✵The article gives records of the herb Black Cohosh, its English name, Latin name, common names, synonyms, property and flavor, its botanical source one plant species, ①.Cimicifuga racemosa L., with a detailed introduction to the botanical features of this plant species, the growth characteristics, and ecological environment of this plant species, brief history, the features of the herb Black Cohosh, its pharmacological actions, medicinal efficacy, and administration guide.

Black Cohosh(Actae cimicifuga).

flowering plants of Actae cimicifuga with white and light yellow flower spikes English Name: Black Cohosh.
 Latin Name: Actae cimicifuga L., or Cimicifuga racemosa(L.) Nutt.
 Common Names: Black snake root, bugbane, bugwort, rattle root, squaw root, Actaea racemosa, Cimicifuga racemosa, black snakeroot, rattle top, cohosh, Cimicifuga.
 Synonyms: Cimicifuga racemosa (L.) Nutt. Macrotys actaeoides; Botrophis serpentaria Raf.; B. actaeeoides Fisch. & C.A. Mey.; Thalictrodes racemosa (Kl. Kuntze).
 Property and flavor: The herb is slight cold in nature, tastes pungent, sweet.

 Brief introduction: Contemporary uses of black cohosh are primarily guided toward the treatment of symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, and menopausal anxiety and depression. From some modern knowledge viewpoint, there are certain new findings of black cohosh applications and identified opinions, some of them are contradicting.

 Botanical source: Common herbal classics defined the herb Black Cohosh as the rhizomes and roots of the species (1).Cimicifuga racemosa L. It is a plant species of the Actaea (baneberry or bugbane) genus, the Ranunculaceae family (buttercup or crowfoot family). The rhizomes and roots are used medicinally in North America, and the fresh and dried roots are used in Europe. This commonly used species is introduced:

(1).Cimicifuga racemosa L.

 flowering plant of Actae cimicifuga with green flower spikes grow in field Botanical description: Actae cimicifuga is also known as Cimicifuga racemosa. Actae cimicifuga, a perennial herb, grows up to 1~1.5 meters, or 1~2 meters high. Rootstock is stout, and firm, the surface is black, with many sunken round holes and old stem remnants. Stems are upright, branched at the upper part, and pubescent. The leaves are double or three pinnate compound leaves, smooth and crenate-serrate; Petiole is as long as 15 cm; The terminal leaflet of the lower stem leaves is long-stalked, rhombic, 7~10 cm long, 4~7 cm wide, often 3-lobed, with serrated edges, and the lateral leaflets are short-stalked or sessile, obliquely ovate, slightly smaller than the terminal leaflet, with serrated edges, glabrous on the upper surface, and sparsely white pilose on the back surface along the veins.

 The raceme has 3~20 branches, 45 cm long, and the lower branch is 15 cm long; Inflorescence rachis is densely covered with gray or rust glandular hairs and pubescence; Bracts are subulate, shorter than pedicels; Flowers are hermaphroditic; 5 Sepals, petaloid (petal shaped), obovate-round, white or greenish-white, 3~4 mm long, caducous; Petals are absent; Staminode is broadly elliptic, about 3 mm long, the apex is slightly concave or 2-lobed; Stamens are numerous, 4~7 mm long; 2~5 carpels, covered with densely gray pilose, sessile or extremely short. Follicles, long ball shape, 8~14 mm long, 2.5~5 mm wide, densely appressed pilose, 2~3 mm long stalk, and short rostrum (beak). Seeds are oval, brown, 2.5~3 mm long, and surrounded by membranous scales and wings. Flowering from July to September and fruiting from August to October.

 Ecological environment: Actae cimicifuga is native to eastern North America and grows in North America continent, the west of China, it is also cultivated in Europe and other north temperate zone, it grows in areas at altitudes of 1,700~2,300 meters above sea level in the same forest edge, forest, or roadside grass.

 Growth characteristics: Actae cimicifuga prefers a warm and humid climate, cold-resistant, seedlings can safely pass winter at the low temperature of -25 °C (Celsius, or -13 degrees Fahrenheit). In the seedling stage, the seedlings are afraid of direct light, and in the flowering and fruiting stage, they need sufficient light. They are afraid of waterlogging, should avoid dry soil, and prefers slightly acidic or neutral humus soil, it grows poorly if cultivated in alkaline or heavy clay.

 Currently, there is no large-scale cultivation of black cohosh, though it is easy to cultivate and its growing popularity with consumers suggests that such cultivation is a critical next step.

 Brief History of Black cohosh: The genus Actaea comprises 15 species of upright perennial plants of northern temperate distribution. Actaea racemosa, commonly called black cohosh, is native to eastern North America. Black cohosh is a wildflower and was cultivated as an ornamental, the flowers are pollinated by flesh flies (Sarcophagidae).

 In modern history, the plant was firstly described by Plukenet (Leonard Plukenet, 1642~1706, English botanist and gardener to Queen Mary II, author of illustrated work Phytographia) in 1696, Linnaeus (Carolus Linnaeus, 1707~1778, Swedish botanist, author of Systema Naturae, Genera Plantarum, Species Plantarum, Fundamenta Botanica) firstly classified black cohosh as Actaea racemosa. By 1732, it had been introduced into English gardens as a hardy ornamental perennial. To this day, it is more widely grown in European gardens than in America. The root is the part of the plant used in herbal traditions. Most of the root is wild-harvested, while some are grown commercially in Europe.

 The genus Cimicifuga contains twenty-three temperate climate species: six from North America, one in Europe, and the remainder from temperate eastern Asia. Similar to black cohosh, several Asian species are traditionally used for gynecological conditions. Collectively, they are commonly known as bugbanes, primarily referring to the single native European species, Cimicifuga europaea and an Asian representative Cimicifuga foetida, which have strong, unpleasant-smelling herbage, earning it a reputation as an insect-repelling plant. The genus name Cimicifuga, itself, honors this olfactory observation. It comes from the Latin cimex meaning bug (specifically the bed bug Cimex lectularius) and fugare "to drive away" in reference to the insect-repelling attributes. These species are also known by the names bugwort or bugbane. They have been used independently as insect repellents throughout their extensive ranges from South Asia to Western Europe and eastern Siberia.

 Native Americans used the rhizome of black cohosh to treat various ailments including kidney problems, sore throat, malaria, rheumatism, and women's problems such as menstrual irregularity. Black cohosh and blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) have been the favorite herbs for gynecological complaints among Native Americans, just like Dong Quai and licorice have been favorite herbs for women in China and other areas of East Asia.

 dried dark brown rhizome and root of Actae cimicifuga Characters of herbs: The medicinally used part of the plant consists of the dried rhizome of Cimicifuga racemosa with attached roots. The rhizome of Actae cimicifuga is an irregular long lump shape and has many branches, 3~17 cm long and 1.7~4 cm in diameter. The surface is dark brown, and extremely rough, with many round hole-shaped stems on the surface, 0.8~2.5 cm in diameter, 1~2 cm in height, rough inner wall, and shallow holes; There are many fibrous roots residues at the lower part. The rhizome is tough in substance, not easy to break, the cross-section is uneven, the xylem (wood part) is yellowish-green and radial, and the pith part is slightly flat, grayish-green, and slightly powdery. The herb has a slight odor and tastes bitter.

 Pharmacological actions: ①.relieve menopause related nervousness; ②.reduce luteinizing hormone levels; ③.estrogen-like activity; ④.antidepressant effect; ⑤.anti-inflammatory effect; ⑥.hormonal effect.

 Related studies proposed the black cohosh root is effective for treating premenstrual and menstrual discomfort or pain, and menopause-related nervousness. Related properties have been identified including its components perform similarly to the female sex hormone estrogen, suppressed luteinizing hormone, and regulating the activities of the testes and ovaries, it could reduce luteinizing hormone levels in menopausal women and consequently relieve menopause-related hot flashes, as the increase in luteinizing hormone that occurs as estrogen levels decrease is implicated as the cause of menopausal symptoms, the components in Cimicifuga racemosa could bind to the estrogen receptor where it selectively suppresses LH secretion (luteinizing hormone secretion), other studies found its component actein, a steroidal derivative, could lower blood pressure in test animals, and helps counter inflammation, lower blood sugar levels, and inhibit certain bacteria.

 Medicinal efficacy: Black cohosh was used traditionally by Native Americans to treat ailments including sore throat, bronchitis, indigestion, rheumatism, and snakebites. But mainly used to relieve female discomforts such as painful menstruation, etc. It was used in the nineteenth century as a lady's remedy for menstrual cramps. Today's herbalists recommend black cohosh as a diuretic, to treat persistent cough, clear mucus from congested airways, menstruation, and childbirth difficulties. Black cohosh has been approved in Europe for climacteric complaints and PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome). In folk medicine it is used for rheumatism, sore throat, bronchitis, the tincture is used as a sedative, for choreic states, fever, lumbago, and snakebites, and for depressive moods related to premenstrual and menopausal symptoms. In TCM, the herb is recorded property to clear heat and for detoxification, relieve the exterior and promote eruption, elevating Yang, indicated for epidemic and fire poison, oral ulcer, sore throat, macula, cephalea with alternation of cold and heat, caruncle swelling, and sores, middle Qi collapse, splenasthenic diarrhea, chronic dysentery and tenesmus, morbid leukorrhea, metrorrhagia, etc.

 Administration of Black Cohosh (Actae cimicifuga): 
Reference: Administration Guide of Black Cohosh (Actae cimicifuga)
Herbal classic books and TCM Books: In North America, the herb is recommended as 40 to 200 mg daily as a typical daily dosage. A decoction is made of half a teaspoon of powdered root per cup of water, 2 tablespoons are taken every few hours, up to 1 cup per day. The tincture is taken in dosages up to 1 teaspoon per day. In TCM works, the herb is recommended internally as water decoction, 3~6 grams for elevating Yang, or up to 15 grams for clearing heat and detoxification or prepared into pill, or powder. Externally use it proper amount, prepare to finely ground powder, and apply mixed, or mouthwash with water decoction, or drip washing.
 Contraindications, Precautions and Adverse Reactions: FDA warned of possible side effects with black cohosh in 1986. The agency declined to declare the herb as a safe food ingredient. Herbalists warn that women with estrogen-dependent cancer and women who are taking birth control pills or estrogen supplements after menopause, and those individuals with certain types of heart disease or those taking sedatives or blood pressure medications. Negative effects of the leaves or roots ever reported in the past are nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, and miscarriage have followed large doses. Better consult your herbalist before taking black cohosh. The herb black cohosh is not advised to take for more than six months for any purpose because so little is known about its long-term effects. Black cohosh is contraindicated during pregnancy, it should not be used during breastfeeding. The herb should be avoided if allergic to black cohosh or other members of the Ranunculaceae family (buttercup or crowfoot family), it should be used cautiously in people allergic to aspirin or to other salicylates. In TCM works, cautions are given that the herb should not be used in conditions floating of Yang due to Yin deficiency, dyspneal fullness, reversed flow of Qi, the eruption of measles, etc. Overdose will lead to negative effects including dizziness, tremor, spasm of limbs, etc.




 QR codeURL QR code:
 URL QR-code 

  • 1.Introduction of Black Cohosh:black snake root or bugwort.

 Last edit and latest revision date:
   cool hit counter