Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa or Actaea racemosa) is native to eastern United States and Canada. Black cohosh, also known as Actaea racemosa, Black snakeroot, Bugwort, Cimicifuga racemosa, Rattle weed, Bugbane, and Squawroot, is a perennial woodland plant belonging to the buttercup family. Black cohosh grows from 4 feet to 8 feet tall and has feather-like white flowers. The root is used in herbal remedies. The plant should not be mistaken with blue cohosh, a nicotine-like herb that has same effects but has not been thoroughly examined for its safety and usefulness.
Cohosh is a Native American term which means “knobby rough roots” due to the form of the plant’s roots. Native Americans used black cohosh to cure uterine disorders such as menopausal and menstrual symptoms, as well as other ailments such as diarrhea, arthritis, sore throat, and general weakness. The herb has been endorsed in Germany for the similar purposes for more than 50 years and is usually prescribed in other European countries.
Native Americans discovered more than two centuries ago, that the root of the black cohosh plant help relieved menstrual pains and symptoms of menopause such as mood swings, irritability, hot flashes, and sleep disturbances. Today, people use black cohosh for the same reasons. In fact, the herb has been broadly used for more than 40 years in Europe and Germany approved it for painful menstruation, premenstrual discomfort, and menopausal symptoms. Black cohosh is usually referred to as a “woman’s remedy” because it is used chiefly to relieve said ailments. Commission E (Germany’s regulatory agency for herbs) has endorsed black cohosh for these symptoms. Black cohosh is also a source of pantothenic acid and vitamin A.
Black cohosh has also been used to relieve pain in childbirth, breast pain, ovarian pain, and uterine pain. Other reported usage of black cohosh include arthritis pain relief, lowering blood pressure, treatment for spasms associated with whooping cough, sedation, treatment of bronchial infections, and treatment of diarrhea.
Black cohosh is the chief ingredient in an over-the-counter German menopausal medicine called Remifemin. In addition, black cohosh is available in several forms including tea, capsules, solutions, tinctures, tablets, powders, and extracts that can be mixed in water.
Although utilized traditionally, teas may not be as effective in treating menopausal symptoms as the standardized extract of black cohosh. To create a black cohosh drink, place 20 g of dried root in 34 oz of water. Boil and then simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until two-thirds of the liquid had evaporated. Strain dried root debris, cover, and keep in the refrigerator or a cool, dry place. The liquid lasts for up to 48 hours.
To make black cohosh tea for medicinal purposes:
Boil 1 teaspoon of dried black cohosh leaves per cup of water for about 20 to 30 minutes. This produces a dark and rather bitter-tasting tea that can be sweetened with honey or sugar.