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Botanical Name : Actaea racemosa
Species: A. racemosa
Common Names: Black cohosh, Black bugbane, Black snakeroot, Fairy candle
Other Names: Actaea macrotys, Actaea racemosa, Actée à Grappes, Actée à Grappes Noires, Actée Noire, Aristolochiaceae Noire, Baie d’actée, Baneberry, Black Aristolochiaceae, Black Snakeroot, Bugbane, Bugwort, Cimicaire à Grappes, Cimicifuga
Habitat :Black cohosh is native to eastern North America from the extreme south of Ontario to central Georgia, and west to Missouri and Arkansas. It grows in a variety of woodland habitats, and is often found in small woodland openings.
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 (9.8–23.6 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……..click & see the pictures of black cohos:
Black cohosh grows in dependably moist, fairly heavy soil. It bears tall tapering racemes of white midsummer flowers on wiry black-purple stems, whose mildly unpleasant, medicinal smell at close range gives it the common name “Bugbane”. The drying seed heads stay handsome in the garden for many weeks. Its deeply cut leaves, burgundy colored in the variety “atropurpurea”, add interest to gardens, wherever summer heat and drought do not make it die back, which make it a popular garden perennial. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit
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 like osteoporosis.
The root of black cohosh is used for medicinal purposes. Black cohosh root contains several chemicals that might have effects in the body. Some of these chemicals work on the immune system and might affect the body’s defenses against diseases. Some might help the body to reduce inflammation. Other chemicals in black cohosh root might work in nerves and in the brain. These chemicals might work similar to another chemical in the brain called serotonin. Scientists call this type of chemical a neurotransmitter because it helps the brain send messages to other parts of the body.
Black cohosh root also seems to have some effects similar to the female hormone, estrogen. In some parts of the body, black cohosh might increase the effects of estrogen. In other parts of the body, black cohosh might decrease the effects of estrogen. Estrogen itself has various effects in different parts of the body. Estrogen also has different effects in people at different stages of life. Black cohosh should not be thought of as an “herbal estrogen” or a substitute for estrogen. It is more accurate to think of it as an herb that acts similar to estrogen in some people.
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.
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.
Liver damage has been reported in a few individuals using black cohosh, but many women have taken the herb without reporting adverse health effects, and a meta-analysis of several well-controlled clinical trials found no evidence that black cohosh preparations have any adverse effect on liver function. Although evidence for a link between black cohosh and liver damage is not conclusive, Australia has added a warning to the label of all black cohosh-containing products, stating that it may cause harm to the liver in some individuals and should not be used without medical supervision. Other studies conclude that liver damage from use of black cohosh is unlikely, and that the main concern over its safe use is lack of proper authentication of plant materials and adulteration of commercial preparations with other plant species.
Reported direct side-effects also include dizziness, headaches, and seizures; diarrhea; nausea and vomiting; sweating; constipation; low blood pressure and slow heartbeats; and weight problems.
Because the vast majority of black cohosh materials are harvested from plants growing in the wild, a recurring concern regarding the safety of black cohosh-containing dietary supplements is mis-identification of plants causing unintentional mixing-in (adulteration) of potentially harmful materials from other plant sources.
Like most plants, black cohosh tissues and organs contain many organic compounds with biological activity. Estrogen-like compounds had originally been implicated in effects of black cohosh extracts on vasomotor symptoms in menopausal women. Several other studies, however, have indicated absence of estrogenic effects and compounds in black cohosh-containing materials. Recent findings suggest that some of the clinically relevant physiological effects of black cohosh may be due to 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. Complex biological molecules, such as triterpene glycosides (e.g. cycloartanes), have been shown to reduce cytokine-induced bone loss (osteoporosis) by blocking osteoclastogenesis in in vitro and in vivo models. 23-O-acetylshengmanol-3-O-?-d-xylopyranoside, a cycloartane glycoside from Actaea racemosa, has been identified as a novel efficacious modulator of GABAA receptors with sedative activity in mice
Click & see:..> Fact sheet of Black Cohos
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.