Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa): Native Americans used black cohosh to treat gynecological and other disorders, including sore throats, kidney problems, and depression.
Depression: Recent research, suggests that some of the physiological effects studied may be due to black cohosh compounds that bind and activate serotonin receptors, and a derivative of serotonin with high affinity to serotonin receptors, N-methylserotonin, has been identified in black cohosh.
A popular and widely used herbal remedy, it is effective in the treatment of a range of diseases. The root is alterative, antidote, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, astringent, cardiotonic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, hypnotic, sedative, tonic and vasodilator.
It is harvested in the autumn as the leaves die down, then cut into pieces and dried. The root is toxic in overdose, it should be used with caution and be completely avoided by pregnant women. The medically active ingredients are not soluble in water so a tincture of the root is normally used. It is used in the treatment of rheumatism, as a sedative and an emmenagogue.
It is traditionally important in the treatment of women's complaints, acting specifically on the uterus it eases uterine cramps and has been used to help in childbirth. Research has shown that the root has oestrogenic activity and is thought to reduce levels of pituitary luteinizing hormone, thereby decreasing the ovaries production of progesterone. The root is also hypoglycaemic, sedative and anti-inflammatory. Used in conjunction with St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) it is 78% effective in treating hot flushes and other menopausal problems.
An extract of the root has been shown to strengthen the male reproductive organ in rats. The root contains salicylic acid, which makes it of value in the treatment of various rheumatic problems - it is particularly effective in the acute stage of rheumatoid arthritis, sciatica and chorea. Its sedative action makes it useful for treating a range of other complaints including tinnitus and high blood pressure. The roots are used to make a homeopathic remedy. This is used mainly for women, especially during pregnancy.
Black cohosh is POSSIBLY SAFE when used appropriately by adults. Black cohosh can cause some mild side effects such as stomach upset, cramping, headache, rash, a feeling of heaviness, vaginal spotting or bleeding, and weight gain. To learn more about the proper use, visit this site: Black cohosh overview; WebMD.
From the Spanimax List: "15 Top Herbs"
- The Complete Homeopathy Handbook. Macmillan; Castro. M.
- The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism; Stuart. M.
- Earth Medicine, Earth Food; Weiner. M. A.
- The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism; Mills. S. Y.
- Black cohosh; WebMD.
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