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Black Cohosh: Folklore, Healing & Magical Uses

Updated on:


Written by: Dawn Black (Witchipedia)


Reviewed by: Tina Caro

Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) perennial is a member of the buttercup family and native to the woodlands of North America. It has tall white feathery racemes (flower spikes) and thick knobby roots. The leaves are divided into threes, with trifoliate terminal leaflets.

The thick, blackish rhizome is what is usually used in medicine.

Other Names
Snakeroot, Blacksnake root, Macrotys, Bugbane, Squaw Root, Rattle Root


This plant is propagated through rhizomes and seeds, and it thrives in shady woodland environments.

Harvesting Black Cohosh roots in the autumn is crucial for preserving its medicinal properties, with proper drying and storage methods.

Black Cohosh is renowned for its magical attributes, often associated with protection, love, and dispelling negative energies.

Its healing attributes include alleviating menopausal symptoms, reducing inflammation, and serving as a natural remedy for pain and anxiety.

History and Folklore

Cohosh is a Native American word for “rough”, referring to the knobby rhizome, which is the useful part. Black Cohosh has been in Native American medicine for centuries and was used as also used by European settlers.

Native American BeliefsBlack Cohosh was highly regarded by Native American tribes for its medicinal and spiritual properties. It was used to address various ailments and promote women’s health.
European FolkloreIn European folklore, Black Cohosh was associated with protection against evil spirits and used in rituals for banishing negative energies.
Symbolic MeaningsBlack Cohosh is often associated with feminine energy, transformation, and spiritual empowerment. It is believed to aid in releasing emotional blockages and embracing personal growth.
Table 1: Folklore and Legends


Sow seeds as soon as the frost is gone. Prefers moist soil, partial shade.

Harvesting & Storage

Collect the fat black rhizome in the fall after the leaves have died back.

Magical Attributes

Black cohosh is ruled by Scorpio and the planet Pluto and is associated with the element of fire.

Magical UsesDescription
Protection and BanishingBlack Cohosh is believed to have protective properties and can be used in rituals or charms to ward off negative energies, hexes, or psychic attacks.
Transformation and EmpowermentThe herb is associated with personal transformation and spiritual growth. It can be used in rituals or spells to facilitate inner healing, emotional release, and empowerment.
Divination AidSome practitioners use Black Cohosh in divination practices, such as scrying or dream work, to enhance intuition, connect with higher realms, and receive spiritual guidance.
Table 2: Magical Uses

Use in sachets for love, courage, and potency or add to the bath. Add to holy water and sprinkle around the room to drive off negative influences.

Healing Attributes

Roots and rhizomes are used for female reproductive complaints, such as PMS and menopause. It has been the subject of many research studies and is believed to work by suppressing the excretion of Luteinizing hormone, which causes ovulation. LH hormone has been linked to night flashes and hot sweats during menopause.

Adverse effects are uncommon with short term use and include dizziness, headache, giddiness, nausea, and vomiting. Long term adverse effects may include abdominal pain, uterine irritation, abnormal blood clotting, and liver problems. There are no known significant adverse drug interactions.

Healing PropertiesDescription
Menopausal Symptom ReliefBlack Cohosh is commonly used to alleviate symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, mood swings, and night sweats. It is known for its estrogen-like effects on the body.
Anti-Inflammatory EffectsThe herb contains compounds that possess anti-inflammatory properties, making it useful for relieving pain and inflammation associated with conditions like arthritis.
Hormonal BalanceBlack Cohosh has been traditionally used to regulate hormonal imbalances, particularly in women, and may help with menstrual irregularities and premenstrual symptoms.
Table 3: Healing Properties

Black Cohosh can be used at the end of a pregnancy to help ripen the cervix. It has also been used in conjunction with other herbs to terminate an unwanted pregnancy in the first month or two. Thus, anyone who is pregnant and wishes to stay that way should stay away from it.

Black Cohosh can also be used for rheumatism, lung conditions, and neurological conditions.

Do not confuse black cohosh with blue cohosh, they are quite different and blue cohosh is much more toxic.

Black Cohosh should not be taken by anyone who has been advised not to take birth control pills or by anyone who has heart problems or a history of cancer. Black Cohosh should not be used with antidepressants.

Should not be used for more than six months at a time.

About Morningbird (Witchipedia's Founder)

I am a homesteading hearth witch who grew up along the shores of the Hudson River and has lived among the Great Lakes for the past 20 years. Together with my musical husband and youngest child, I steward a one-acre mini homestead with herb, vegetable and flower gardens, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits, and areas reserved for native plants and wildlife. 

I have three children; two are grown, and I have been practicing magick alone and with family and friends for over 30 years.

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