Black Cohosh

Botanical Name: Cimicifuga racemosa (syn. Actaea racemosa) Family: Ranunculaceae

Common name(s): Black Cohosh, Rattleroot, Squawroot, Snakeroot, Bugbane


  • Perennial; herbaceous | Zone 3-8 | 3-9 feet tall | Small white flowers in wand-like racemes from May through August
  • Partial shade| Moist, rich soil | Grows in woods and shrubby areas


Harvest the root in Autumn


Decoction: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1/2-1 teaspoons of the dried root and let steep for 10-15 minutes. Drink 3x/day.

Tincture: 2-4ml 3x/day


Constituents: Bitter glycosides, estrogenic principle,  ranunculin (changes to anemonin when dried), tannin, resin, salicylic acid

Actions: Alterative, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, sedative

Uses: Menstrual pain, menopausal symptoms, arthritis (and rheumatic issues), high blood pressure, tinnitis, asthma, whooping cough, nervousness, insomnia

Combinations: combine with equal parts skullcap, wood betony, passion flower, valerian, and half a part of cayenne pepper for menstrual pains. More combinations can bee found in “The Way of Herbs.”

Cautions: Best avoided by people with liver issues. It has a reputation of facilitating delivery, so only take a week before your due date.


Sweet, pungent, slightly bitter, cool


  • The Way of Herbs, Michael Tierra
  • Holistic Herbal, David Hoffmann
  • Indian Herbology of North America
  • Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Andrew Chevallier
  • Fine Gardening
  • photo credit: Pixabay

I don’t have any experience with this plant but I do have the right growing conditions for it on my property. I may plant it, eventually, or maybe it will just show up!