Botanical name: Actaea racemosa
Black Cohosh hails from North America, and was introduced to Western herbalism by the Native North American tribes who have been using it for centuries. It is a powerful relaxant and helps to normalise the female reproductive system.
It is used for painful and delayed menstruation, and cramping. It also has a balancing action on female sex hormones and can be used to normalise hormonal activity. It is used to facilitate childbirth to aid contractions while easing tension.
Black Cohosh is also used in the treatment of rheumatic conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis as well as for muscular and neurological pain and sciatica. It improves blood circulation and lowers blood pressure and body temperature by dilating blood vessels.
It is a relaxing nervine, and can be useful for anxiety & tension. As a central nervous system depressant it inhibits vasomotor centres that are involved with inner ear balance and hearing, and is used (even by allopathic doctors) for tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
As an antispasmodic, it is used for respiratory conditions such as whooping cough.
Preparation: Only use cultivated (not wild-harvested) black cohosh, as it is now and endangered species in the wild. Tinctures or decoction of the root bark are required.
Reference: David Hoffman (1990), The New Holistic Herbal, p.181, Kathy Keville (1991), The Illustrated Herb Encyclopedia, pp.66-67
Black Cohosh Common Uses
Black Cohosh Actions
Black Cohosh Recipes
Black Cohosh Precautions
Do not take when pregnant or breast feeding. Black cohosh contains small amounts of salicylic acid, so people with allergies to aspirin or salicylates should avoid black cohosh. Avoid black cohosh if you have breast cancer, especially if you are receiving treatment for breast cancer (eg docetaxel, doxorubicin, cisplatin), as it interferes with the medication.
Herbs rich in saponins like black cohosh can cause gastrointestinal upset or reflux in sensitive people.