Actea Racemose or Cimicifuga Rasemosa, also known as Black Cohosh, Squaroot, and Snakeroot is a bitter and cooling perennial herb whose roots are known for their effects on ‘women’s issues’ and the female reproductive system. I first heard of it as part of a labor tincture in Susun Weed’s Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year nineteen years ago, when I hadn’t yet met the plant. It is now part of my everyday life, growing behind our house with wild abandon in the woods, surrounding us as we wander the trails. The blooming stalks are particularly enchanting.
Black Cohosh is a powerful ally that I turn to mainly for lower back pain. It is an antispasmodic, female reproductive tonic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, diaphoretic, diuretic, alterative, antidepressant, analgesic and nervine herb, useful for sciatica, arthritis, mastitis, mood swings, and hot flashes among other things.
Black Cohosh is native to Virginia, and while it grows quite lushly here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it can quickly become scarce if over harvested. I break off part of the rhizome and replant it for future growth.
Around seven years ago I tinctured a small batch of black cohosh roots, which has now come to its conclusion. In July I tied ribbon around a few cohoshes in the woods that were located away from rocks, to better find them at this time of year when their leaves have fallen to the ground and in some cases the stalks trampled by deer and other creatures. Today I dug out a few roots and set up another small batch of tincture and oil; a fitting day as Venus and Pluto are trine and both have correspondences with this plant that is a Libran herb . . . it’s also my birthday, and digging around in the earth, shaking off dirt, sharing space with mantis, and dropping worms to the ground is the kind of thing that gives me great joy, good medicine in more ways than one 🙂