Black cohosh: Coming full circle?

Teresa L. Johnson, Jed W Fahey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Ethnopharmacological relevance: Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa L.), Ranunculaceae, thrives in temperate climates east of the Mississippi River in the USA. It is economically important to the Appalachian region where it is wild harvested, but it has resisted most efforts at deliberate cultivation. Black cohosh has been used for many centuries both in Europe and in the US (by indigenous people and subsequent Caucasian medical practitioners), most notably for indications of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menstrual pain and cramping. Aim of the study: To highlight black cohosh as an example in which disregard for the ethnobotanical and ethnopharmacologic usages of a plant has perhaps hindered modern scientific attempts to understand the mechanism of action of its bioactive phytochemicals, and ascribe cause to effect. Results: Research on its mode of action has historically focused on its presumed hormonal (phytoestrogenic) activity, but very recent work suggests that it may in fact be acting as an antinociceptive agent. Re-examination of some of the writings of 19th and 20th century physicians and folk literature suggests that this mode of action may have been overlooked in modern experimentalists' in vitro and animal studies and in the very few well conducted human trials to date. Conclusions: The common folk perception of this plant as a "remedy for female problems" may thus require revision, as it may possess more general analgesic properties. In the broader context, ethnopharmacologic indications for other herbal remedies must be revisited in light of the explosion in understanding of mechanisms of action of small molecule effectors of which actein and cimicifugoside (from black cohosh) are only two examples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)775-779
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Ethnopharmacology
Volume141
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 14 2012

Fingerprint

Cimicifuga
Analgesics
Appalachian Region
Ranunculaceae
Literature
Premenstrual Syndrome
Mississippi
Dysmenorrhea
Explosions
Phytochemicals
Climate
Rivers
Physicians
Research

Keywords

  • Actaea racemosa
  • Analgesic
  • Antinociceptive
  • Black cohosh
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Reproductive pharmacology
  • Traditional medicine Northern America
  • Triterpenoids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery

Cite this

Black cohosh : Coming full circle? / Johnson, Teresa L.; Fahey, Jed W.

In: Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Vol. 141, No. 3, 14.06.2012, p. 775-779.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Johnson, Teresa L. ; Fahey, Jed W. / Black cohosh : Coming full circle?. In: Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2012 ; Vol. 141, No. 3. pp. 775-779.
@article{d109a9c06dbe464785099a2c94385aef,
title = "Black cohosh: Coming full circle?",
abstract = "Ethnopharmacological relevance: Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa L.), Ranunculaceae, thrives in temperate climates east of the Mississippi River in the USA. It is economically important to the Appalachian region where it is wild harvested, but it has resisted most efforts at deliberate cultivation. Black cohosh has been used for many centuries both in Europe and in the US (by indigenous people and subsequent Caucasian medical practitioners), most notably for indications of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menstrual pain and cramping. Aim of the study: To highlight black cohosh as an example in which disregard for the ethnobotanical and ethnopharmacologic usages of a plant has perhaps hindered modern scientific attempts to understand the mechanism of action of its bioactive phytochemicals, and ascribe cause to effect. Results: Research on its mode of action has historically focused on its presumed hormonal (phytoestrogenic) activity, but very recent work suggests that it may in fact be acting as an antinociceptive agent. Re-examination of some of the writings of 19th and 20th century physicians and folk literature suggests that this mode of action may have been overlooked in modern experimentalists' in vitro and animal studies and in the very few well conducted human trials to date. Conclusions: The common folk perception of this plant as a {"}remedy for female problems{"} may thus require revision, as it may possess more general analgesic properties. In the broader context, ethnopharmacologic indications for other herbal remedies must be revisited in light of the explosion in understanding of mechanisms of action of small molecule effectors of which actein and cimicifugoside (from black cohosh) are only two examples.",
keywords = "Actaea racemosa, Analgesic, Antinociceptive, Black cohosh, Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), Reproductive pharmacology, Traditional medicine Northern America, Triterpenoids",
author = "Johnson, {Teresa L.} and Fahey, {Jed W}",
year = "2012",
month = "6",
day = "14",
doi = "10.1016/j.jep.2012.03.050",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "141",
pages = "775--779",
journal = "Journal of Ethnopharmacology",
issn = "0378-8741",
publisher = "Elsevier Ireland Ltd",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Black cohosh

T2 - Coming full circle?

AU - Johnson, Teresa L.

AU - Fahey, Jed W

PY - 2012/6/14

Y1 - 2012/6/14

N2 - Ethnopharmacological relevance: Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa L.), Ranunculaceae, thrives in temperate climates east of the Mississippi River in the USA. It is economically important to the Appalachian region where it is wild harvested, but it has resisted most efforts at deliberate cultivation. Black cohosh has been used for many centuries both in Europe and in the US (by indigenous people and subsequent Caucasian medical practitioners), most notably for indications of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menstrual pain and cramping. Aim of the study: To highlight black cohosh as an example in which disregard for the ethnobotanical and ethnopharmacologic usages of a plant has perhaps hindered modern scientific attempts to understand the mechanism of action of its bioactive phytochemicals, and ascribe cause to effect. Results: Research on its mode of action has historically focused on its presumed hormonal (phytoestrogenic) activity, but very recent work suggests that it may in fact be acting as an antinociceptive agent. Re-examination of some of the writings of 19th and 20th century physicians and folk literature suggests that this mode of action may have been overlooked in modern experimentalists' in vitro and animal studies and in the very few well conducted human trials to date. Conclusions: The common folk perception of this plant as a "remedy for female problems" may thus require revision, as it may possess more general analgesic properties. In the broader context, ethnopharmacologic indications for other herbal remedies must be revisited in light of the explosion in understanding of mechanisms of action of small molecule effectors of which actein and cimicifugoside (from black cohosh) are only two examples.

AB - Ethnopharmacological relevance: Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa L.), Ranunculaceae, thrives in temperate climates east of the Mississippi River in the USA. It is economically important to the Appalachian region where it is wild harvested, but it has resisted most efforts at deliberate cultivation. Black cohosh has been used for many centuries both in Europe and in the US (by indigenous people and subsequent Caucasian medical practitioners), most notably for indications of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menstrual pain and cramping. Aim of the study: To highlight black cohosh as an example in which disregard for the ethnobotanical and ethnopharmacologic usages of a plant has perhaps hindered modern scientific attempts to understand the mechanism of action of its bioactive phytochemicals, and ascribe cause to effect. Results: Research on its mode of action has historically focused on its presumed hormonal (phytoestrogenic) activity, but very recent work suggests that it may in fact be acting as an antinociceptive agent. Re-examination of some of the writings of 19th and 20th century physicians and folk literature suggests that this mode of action may have been overlooked in modern experimentalists' in vitro and animal studies and in the very few well conducted human trials to date. Conclusions: The common folk perception of this plant as a "remedy for female problems" may thus require revision, as it may possess more general analgesic properties. In the broader context, ethnopharmacologic indications for other herbal remedies must be revisited in light of the explosion in understanding of mechanisms of action of small molecule effectors of which actein and cimicifugoside (from black cohosh) are only two examples.

KW - Actaea racemosa

KW - Analgesic

KW - Antinociceptive

KW - Black cohosh

KW - Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

KW - Reproductive pharmacology

KW - Traditional medicine Northern America

KW - Triterpenoids

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84861337430&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84861337430&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.jep.2012.03.050

DO - 10.1016/j.jep.2012.03.050

M3 - Article

C2 - 22504147

AN - SCOPUS:84861337430

VL - 141

SP - 775

EP - 779

JO - Journal of Ethnopharmacology

JF - Journal of Ethnopharmacology

SN - 0378-8741

IS - 3

ER -