It has been several weeks since a post as our lives have been captivated by our beautiful new Baby Ivara born this Autumnal Equinox! So, I decided what better herb to write about than the wonderful birthing and afterbirth plant ally Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa/ Actaea racemosa).
This is some of our Black Cohosh plants pictured last September growing along a row of Hawthorn trees at Ivywood. This is a plant we love to grow. In flower, its elegant presence cannot be ignored and is always a pleasure to watch the racemes of white blossoms swaying in the wind.
A native and traditional medicinal of north America it adapts well to growing in Ireland. It is thought of as best grown in woodlands or in the prairies. After propagating and cultivating Black Cohosh for numerous years we find it thrives best in open spaces of full sun on well drained soils. It isn’t a fan of waterlogged ground and Irish woodlands are too dark and damp for it’s liking. We sow it from seed, but it does need specialist care to successfully do this. If plants are large and healthy enough Black Cohosh crowns can be divided. To achieve this your plants need to be adequately spaced in free draining soil. Our plants stand at 5ft tall. We harvest the root after 5 years of growth for tincture making.
It is also an amazing herb for us to have in our clinic dispensary. As a medicinal it is anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, a vasodilator, emmenagogue, anti-spasmodic and has a marked action on the nervous system. In clinical practice I use Black Cohosh for arthritic conditions – both rheumatoid and osteo arthritic issues, muscular pains, neuralgic pain of all types and female genealogical issues including – painful periods, menopausal symptoms, P.C.O.S and for labour and afterbirth. Yes - its uses cover all these health issues! It is most well-known by women as a menopause herb as it can relieve uncomfortable symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal atrophy, and dryness. It is found in many natural menopause supplements and products as its oestrogenic effect makes it a popular alternative to HRT. In clinic I would have most experience using Black Cohosh for arthritic issues. This plant can bring great relief to all types of arthritic pains by working to reduce inflammation in the joints as well as reducing pains of the tendons and ligaments.
During the birth of our baby Ivara we used Black Cohosh to aid progression of the early stages of labour and to regulate the uterine contractions. This uterine stimulant effect of Black Cohosh has been utilised for centuries to assist birthing. It is the reason the plant is contraindicated in pregnancy and valued as an afterbirth herb. As a uterine tonic we take Black Cohosh root alongside plants such as Wild Yam root, Catnip and Raspberry leaf in the first month after birth to bring the uterus back to the correct size, assisting in the expulsion of any afterbirth tissue and to diminish afterbirth pains. Our beautiful Black Cohosh plants were in full flower at the time of Ivara’s birth and one of the plants brought inside to be present with us in the birthing space.
If you are interested in growing Black Cohosh we will have the plants available from our herb nursery shop.