It is only in relatively modern times that drugs have been developed, controlled and marketed by large pharmaceutical companies. Herbal medicine is older than any other type of health care. Even the pharmaceuticals in the 20th century were developed primarily from native herbal lore. Herbal medicine continues to influence the medicines of today with up to 25 per cent of all prescription drugs in the US having at least one active ingredient that comes from plant extracts or synthesized plant compounds.
However, it is the low risks and potential for no side effects that make these medical herbal remedies so appealing to many when compared with commercial drugs.
This unusual sounding herb – black cohosh
- has a history of being used in Native American medicine and was popular as a home remedy in 19th Century America for women’s health conditions.
But in those days, it was mainly used for different conditions
These included the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis and muscle pain.
Today there are many black cohosh health benefits although it is more popular for gynecological problems.
Black cohosh is also known as Black snakeroot, Rattlerood and Rattleweed amongst other names.
It is a tall perennial plant in the buttercup family that grows in eastern and central areas of the US. The fresh flowers have a strong odor and are effective insect repellents. The plants grow from seed in late summer in shaded areas and require watering to thrive. The rootstock is harvested in the fall after the fruit has formed.
It is easy to grow, harvest and even make your own black cohosh “decoction” and “tincture”
Wash the roots carefully, blot with paper towel or absorbent cloth and then dry in a well ventilated area on wire racks. So something new for keen gardeners to grow and use. Here are a couple of recipes. The second one does include alcohol.
• Black cohosh decoction:
add 2 teaspoons of dried rootstock to 1 pint of water, boil and let cool. To treat, give 2 to 3 tablespoonfuls to treat up to 6 times per day.
• Black cohosh tincture
: soak 2 to 3 oz powdered rootstock in 8 to 12 oz Vodka for 3 weeks, shaking the jar once or twice a day. Strain and then to treat, give 5 drops 3 to 4 times per day.
Black Cohosh is an internal herbal treatment
And as you will see from below, the benefits of black cohosh are definitely mainly for womanly conditions:
• Depression, mood swings, night sweats, vaginal dryness and hot flushes during menopause as well as tiredness, lack of energy and feelings of hopelessness during this time.
• Dysmenorrhoea which is the pain experienced during the menstrual period.
• Premenstrual syndrome or PMS
• Stimulating the uterus
• A product known as Black Cohosh Root Extract can be taken in place of hormone replacement therapy which these days many women are worried about using
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is funding various studies to fully understand the potential of this herb on hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.
Other conditions that can be treated by black cohosh
• Dyspepsia which is a digestive disorder characterized by discomfort or heartburn or nausea
• Rheumatism and arthritis
• Tinnitus which is a ringing, swishing or other type of noise that seems to originate in the ear or head,
• High blood pressure
• Aches and pains
• Lowering fevers
A word of warning as there are some side effects
• Black cohosh can cause headaches and stomach discomfort but the number of cases is low. On rare occasions, heaviness in the legs, weight problems and low blood pressure have been reported.
• Black cohosh should not be confused with blue cohosh which is a different herb with different properties, treatment uses and side effects.
• It is recommended that those with a history of blood clots or stroke, seizures, a liver disorder or symptoms of liver trouble such as abdominal pain, dark urine or jaundice should avoid taking black cohosh.
• People with allergies to plants in the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) should avoid black cohosh as well as those with allergies to aspirin or salicylates as the herb contains small amounts of salicylic acid.
• Excessive amounts of the herb should not be taken as more than 5 grams can be toxic.
The underground stems and roots of black cohosh are used fresh or dried to make strong teas, nutritional supplements, capsules, pills or tinctures which are available from health food stores or on line.
You might like to try it out.