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Plant Family: 



Habitat & Cultivation: 

Black cohosh thrives in temperate climates in eastern parts of the United States and the Appalachian region. It prefers rich, moist soil and woodlands. Also, wild-harvested plant materials (commonly from the Appalachians in the eastern US) supply nearly all the commercial sales of black cohosh (Dugoua, Seely, Perri, Koren, & Mills, 2006) and Mills and Bone (2005) caution that other Cimifuga sp., particularly C. americana, are often unintentionally mixed into preparations of black cohosh due to the similarity in above-ground appearance. Occasionally black cohosh is also adulterated with underground portions of baneberry (Actaea pachypoda and A. rubra)(Mills & Bone, 2005). 


The traditional use for black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) is treatment of pain in relation to rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, muscular issues, or neurological pain to include: sciatica and neuralgia (Hoffmann, 2003). According to Romm, it is an antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory which makes it a useful herb for helping relax muscles.  The relaxing properties black cohosh releases can help calm the uterus and make for more effective and coordinated contractions, to aid in a more efficient labor (Romm, 2017).  The more modern use for black cohosh is geared toward gynecological reasons such as menstruation pain or delay in menstruation (Hoffmann, 2003).  While gynecological issues are the most common use for black cohosh today, uses surrounding arthritis in the bones and joints, nerve pain, and muscle problems should not be forgotten as this is also a common reason for black cohosh (Hoffmann, 2003).

Parts Used/Collection: 

dried root and rhizomes


Herbal Actions: 

  • anti-inflammatory

  • analgesic

  • antitussive

  • anti-rheumatic

  • diuretic

  • emmenagogue

  • expectorant

  • hypotensive

  • peripheral vasodilator

  • sedative

  • spasmolytic

  • uterine tonic



  • menopause

  • premenstrual

  • stagnation in labor

  • depression

  • pain

  • nausea




  • avoid use if intestinal obstruction, abdominal pain of unknown origin, inflammatory conditions of the intestines (colitis, appendicitis, Crohn’s disease, IBS, melanosis co

  • Use may result in precipitous labor, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, intestinal colic, flatulence, disturbances of electrolyte balance, dehydration, hemorrhagic gastritis.

  • Long term use with antiarrhythmic drugs and botanicals containing cardiac glycosides can result in potassium loss and increased drug toxicity.

  • Increase in meconium stained fluids


Plant Constituents: 

Triterpene glycosides & saponins, isoflavones, isoferulic acid, volatile oil, tannin, alkaloids, salicylates, resin, flavonoids.


System Affinities:

Gastrointestinal, Nervine



pungent, sweet, bitter, drying, activator for stagnation



Black cohosh has been reviewed and reported on quite concertedly. While there have been reports of various adversities since reporting began (around 1998), they have not been able to link a direct correlation with adversity to black cohosh when the recommended dosing is utilized. Adverse reports have been legitimized in cases where the dosing exceeded what was recommended. This is important to know that the margin of error for adverse reactions is significant (blood pressure challenges and hepatoxicity, are the named risk factors). There are no herb-drug reactions to be expected, nor is there any mutagenicity (via the Ames test) reported. Long-term use of this herb (often for treatment of menopausal symptoms) is under debate for its safety profile, due to the estrogenic effects and, thus uterine and breast cancer concerns. The longest duration recommended is 6 months, however, this may be due to lack of studies for longer than this. Overall, the estrogenic effects of this herb are under question, as it has been shown in animal trials, but the human trials are suggesting that the mechanism of action is actually nonestrogenic. 



  • 5-20 drops of tincture, give an hour and see what happens over time


Personal Experience:

I used this to aid with digestion and to have a BM. It worked great and within hours of use. 




Riccio, L. & Zollinger, R. (2018). Uterine stimulants. Week 3 PowerPoint. Botanical Medicine for Midwifery Care 4.



Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)

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