Posted by Bangzkie Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Actaea racemosa (black cohosh, black bugbane, black snakeroot, fairy candle; syn. Cimicifuga racemosa) is a plant of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). It is native to eastern North America from the extreme south of Ontario to central Georgia, and west to Missouri and Arkansas. Black cohosh grows in a variety of woodland habitats, and is often found in small woodland openings. The roots and rhizomes of black cohosh have long been used medicinally by Native Americans. Extracts from these plant materials are thought to possess analgesic, sedative, and anti-inflammatory properties. Today, black cohosh preparations (tinctures or tablets of dried materials) are used mainly to treat symptoms associated with menopause.
Black cohosh is a smooth (glabrous), herbaceous perennial plant that produces large, compound leaves from an underground rhizome, reaching a height of 25–60 centimetres (9.8–24 in).The basal leaves are up to 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) long and broad, forming repeated sets of three leaflets (tripinnately compound) having a coarsely toothed (serrated) margin. The flowers are produced in late spring and early summer on a tall stem, 75–250 centimetres (30–98 in) tall, forming racemes up to 50 centimetres (20 in) long. The flowers have no petals or sepals, and consist of tight clusters of 55-110 white, 5–10 mm long stamens surrounding a white stigma. The flowers have a distinctly sweet, fetid smell that attracts flies, gnats, and beetles.The fruit is a dry follicle 5–10 mm long, with one carpel, containing several seeds.
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.
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.