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Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)

Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)

Like delphinium and columbine, black cohosh belongs to the buttercup family. Above the multiple pinnate leaves of the perennial and herbaceous plant appear from June to September up to 60 centimeters long, narrow and upright flower clusters. The long stamens of the small, white individual flowers make these flower clusters look downy.

Origin and cultivation.

The black cohosh is native to the shady, damp and cool deciduous forests of eastern Canada and the USA; in Europe it is popular as an ornamental plant near ponds. The irregularly shaped, darkbraunen rhizomes (actually: rhizomes), which are about hand-long and two centimeters thick, are used pharmaceutically. In late fall, they are carefully dug up, coarsely chopped and dried. Some of the rhizomes come from wild collections; in Europe, black cohosh is mainly cultivated in northern Italy, but it is also cultivated in Hesse and Thuringia.


In its native country, the black cohosh is known as squaw root. The root contains the compounds actein and cimicifugoside, whose estrogen-like effect is utilized by modern medicine. Root extracts influence the temperature regulation of the human body and are thus said to support women during menopause. Actein also has a vasodilator effect. However, those who put their trust in black cohosh need a little patience: the positive effects only appear after several weeks of use.

Use of Cimicifuga extract.

  • Men apply Cimicifuga externally. An excess of male hormones can result in a shortened lifespan of the hair. As an ingredient in shampoos, the active ingredients of black cohosh are said to displace testosterone from the testosterone receptors at the hair root, thus inhibiting hormone-induced hair loss
  • For women with menopausal symptoms, medicines containing extracts of the plant are considered a natural alternative to hormone treatment with estrogen. They help with hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia and mood swings. But women with menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome can also benefit from the root extract of black cohosh.
  • The native peoples of North America used the black cohosh against cramps and (birth) pains
  • In addition to the Cimicifuga species, which originated in North America, there are related species that are native to Asia and have a firm place in traditional Chinese medicine.

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