Sometimes used in tea blends, but more commonly to make tinctures and extracts.
Although black cohosh is related to buttercup, its appearance couldn’t be in more contrast to the low-growing, sunny yellow flower. In fact, black cohosh has the distinction of producing clusters of white flowers that lack sepals or petals supported on tall spikes, or racemes, that can reach nearly two feet in height. Because the flowers emit a sweet odor that repels flies and other insects, the herb is commonly known as bugbane.
Black cohosh root contains a small amount of salicylic acid, so people with a known allergy or sensitivity to aspirin should consult their health care practitioner before using this herb. Similarly, the herb is suspected of exerting hormonal effects, which may make it unsuitable for individuals with a history of breast or prostate cancer or other hormone-related condition. Black cohosh should not be used during pregnancy without close medical supervision due to the risk of uterine contractions. Do not use while nursing.
Native Americans used black cohosh to treat gynecological and other disorders, including sore throats, kidney problems, and depression. Following the arrival of European settlers in the U.S. who continued the medicinal usage of black cohosh, the plant appeared in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia in 1830 under the name “black snakeroot”.
In 1844 A. racemosa gained popularity when Dr. John King, an eclectic physician,
used it to treat rheumatism and nervous disorders. Other eclectic physicians of
the mid-nineteenth century used black cohosh for a variety of maladies, including
endometritis, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, menorrhagia, sterility, severe after-birth
pains, and for increased breast milk production.
Black cohosh is used today mainly as a dietary supplement marketed to
women as remedies for the symptoms of premenstrual tension, menopause
and other gynecological problems. Recent meta-analysis of contemporary
evidence supports these claims. Study design and dosage of black cohosh
preparations play a role in clinical outcome, and recent investigations with pure
compounds found in black cohosh have identified some beneficial effects of
these compounds on physiological pathways underlying age-related disorders
According to Cancer Research UK: "Doctors are worried that using black
cohosh long term may cause thickening of the womb lining. This could lead to
an increased risk of womb cancer." They also caution that people with liver
problems should not take it as it can damage the liver, although a 2011
meta-analysis of research evidence suggested this concern may be
unfounded. Studies on human subjects who were administered two
commercially available black cohosh preparations did not detect estrogenic
effects on the breast. No studies exist on long-term safety of black cohosh use in humans. In a transgenic mouse model of cancer, black cohosh did not increase incidence of primary breast cancer, but increased metastasis of pre-existing breast cancer to the lungs.
Use with caution if there is a history of a hormone-driven condition or a sensitivity to aspirin.
Dried and powdered, extracts
Triterpene glycosides, such as Acetin and Cimicifugoside; Isoflavones, such as Formononetin, which binds to estrogen receptor sites. Other compounds include aromatic acids, tannins, resins, fatty acids, starches, and sugars, salicylic acid, and isoferulic acid.