Medicinal Uses of Black Cohosh (Actaea Racemosa)

Black cohosh is a woodland plant that is also known by the names black snakeroot, fairy candle, black bugbane, and actaea racemosa. Black cohosh is native to the North American continent, but only on the eastern side from Ontario to Georgia. The furthest west that the growth pattern stretches, is to Missouri or Arkansas.

For centuries, the roots and rhizomes of the black cohosh have been used in herbal remedies and holistic medicines. As an herbaceous perennial plant, black cohosh grows leaves that are compound by nature, with stalks that are long and woody. The flowers of the plant are often mistaken for seeds, as they have not petals.

Benefits of Black Cohosh

When used in medicinal remedies, only the roots of the black cohosh plant are employed. Primarily used as a female reproductive medicine, the roots of the plant contain isoflavones, which are proven to act similar in the human body to the inherent female hormones. As such, the herb is commonly used to fight the mood swings, vaginal dryness, and hot flashes associated with menopause.

Other uses for the plant include a cough expectorant, adequate for men and women, and as an anti-inflammatory or pain reliever. For the latter purpose, black cohosh is employed by persons suffering from autoimmune variations of arthritis. Recent studies have shown that the plant may work well to combat heart disease.

Using Black Cohosh

There are a few standard methods used when dosing or ingesting black cohosh. While the plant is sold as an extract or in capsule form, the most common dosage is a decoction. If creating a decoction, the root of the plant must be steeped into a tea.

The tea that results from prolonged steeping is very dark and incredibly bitter. It will be necessary to sweeten the decoction with another herb or raw honey, only to make it more palatable.

Photo credit: RockerBOO/Flickr


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