Black Cohosh is a perennial plant native to North America.
It grows in rich, open woods and hillsides from Maine and Ontario to the
southern United States. The stem is smooth and furrowed, and grows from three
to nine feet in height. The leaves are ternate, then pinnate, and are
irregularly shaped. There are two to five leaflets which are egg-shaped or
oblong, and irregularly toothed and cut. Small white or yellow flowers grow in
long racemes from June to August. The medicinal part is the rootstock, which is
the underground portion of a stem producing leaves from its upper surface and
roots from its lower surface. It is often thick and contains deposits of
reserve food material.
Other common names for this plant are:
|| Black Snakeroot
|| Blue Ginseng
| Cimici Fuga
|| Rich Ridodrine Weed
|| Fatty Acids
|| Isoferulic Acid
|| Oleic Acid
| Palmitic Acid
|| Plant Acids
| Salicylic Acid
|| Stearic Acid
| Tannic Acid
|| Volatile Oils
| Vitamin E
PROPERTIES AND USES
Antispasmodic - an agent which relieves or prevents
spasms, usually of the smooth muscles. Barbiturates and valerian are examples
Astringent - an agent which causes the constriction
or contraction of tissue.
Diaphoretic - an agent which increases
Diuretic - Diuretics form a class of drugs which
increase the volume of urine produced by the kidneys. It can be used
effectively to treat mild cases of edema when kidney function is good and when
the underlying abnormality of cardiac function, capillary pressure, or salt
retention is being corrected simultaneously. Diuretics are not an appropriate
treatment for edema caused by inflammation of the kidneys, and are useless in
cardiac edema associated with advanced kidney insufficiency.
Emmenagogue - an agent which stimulates menstrual
Expectorant - an agent which stimulates the outflow
of mucus from the lungs and bronchials.
Narcotic - an agent which depresses the function of
the central nervous system, inducing sleep and lessening pain. By definition,
narcotics can be toxic in excess.
Sedative - Sedatives are a class of drugs which
function to quiet nervous excitement and reduce motor activity without inducing
sleep. They are used in the management of neuroses and in the treatment of
anxiety and apprehension accompanying various disease states such as
hypertension. Sedatives commonly function to induce reversible depression of
the central nervous system. Examples of this class are phenobarbital,
secobarbital sodium, and pentobarbital.
Black Cohosh has very effective qualities as an
expectorant, often clearing the lungs of congestion from Bronchitis or the Flu
or Common Cold.
It is an excellent central nervous system tonic and a safe
sedative. It depresses the heartbeat slightly while increasing the pulse's
strength and stimulating the muscular system.
It neutralizes poisons by stimulating the secretions of
the kidneys, liver, lymphatic system, and bladder, equalizes blood circulation,
and expels mucus from the bronchial tubes.
It contains natural estrogen, the female hormone, which
helps in hot flashes, contracts the uterus, and increases sluggish menstrual
A Black Cohosh poultice can be used for inflammation, and
as a syrup for coughs.
It may produce mild toxicity in some cases with nausea,
vomiting, and nervousness exhibited. It will produce adverse reactions in those
with low blood pressure or low blood sugar, since it is hypotensive and
DRUG PRECAUTIONS AND
The oxytocic property of Black Cohosh in conjunction with
vasoconstrictors such as ephedrine, methoxamine, phenylephrine or
sympathomimetics may cause severe hypertension.
Citrates and tannates in conjunction with Black Cohosh may
produce erratic and unpredictable results due to oxytocic action, while Black
Cohosh and sparteine may have synergistic oxytocic activity.
Topical application of this astringent herb in conjunction
with the acne product tretinoin (retinoic acid, vitamin A acid), may adversely
affect the skin.
The tannin in Black Cohosh may potentiate the antibiotic
activity of echinacea. The tannin in tea made from this herb may be inactivated
by the addition of milk or cream.
The neuromuscular relaxing action of Black Cohosh may be
enhanced by the use of certain aminoglycoside antibiotics such as
In the absence of other hard data, it may still be assumed
that observable interaction may occur between the many central nervous system
drugs and the psychoactive principles in Black Cohosh.