Bugwort
06-Feb-2007

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Botanical Name: Cimicifuga Racemosa
Common Names: Black Cohosh, Bugbane, Bugwort, Rattleroot, Rattleweed, Black Cohush
 
 

Overview

Bugwort is an herb that was originally grown in the United States and Canada. The plant grows well in shady woody areas. Native Americans found that the herb helped with many medical conditions, including issues for women, fatigue, and arthritis. When European colonists came to the New World, they quickly learned the value of this herb and adopted its use. The herb was transported back to Europe where it was used for the same issues the Native Americans used it for.

Europeans also found that bugwort helped to reduce blood pressure.
 
As early as the 1950s, doctors discovered that bugwort worked well as a hormone replacement for women going through menopause. They were routinely using it in their hormone replacement therapies. The plant is not estrogen, but rather creates an effect like that of estrogen.
 

Currently there are no farms cultivating bugwort on a large scale, but as it is growing in popularity among consumers of herbal remedies, in the near future there will probably be more widespread growing of this interesting herb. Today the plant is grown more in Europe than in the United States. It was originally introduced in Europe as a garden perennial. The root of the plant is the part that is used for herbal treatments, and currently it is harvested in the wild most frequently.
 

There has been very little study to date of the long-term effects of this herb. Use of the herb should be in moderation, and always under the care of a healthcare provider. Current studies have gone as long as six months of treatment. Liver problems are one possible serious side effect.
 
 
 

Health Benefits of Bugwort.
 
Hormone Replacement

Currently, hormone replacement therapy is the primary use of bugwort. Many women are concerned with the effects of estrogen replacement therapies, and recent research has led to the acceptance of the traditional belief that bugwort helped women through the change. When taken with St. John’s wort, bugwort reduces hot flashed by as much as 78 %. Other menopausal symptoms, such a headaches, insomnia, mood swings, and sweating are also improved through the use of bugwort. More study is needed about this promising field of menopausal treatment.
 

Sedative
 
Bugwort also has sedative properties, which make it good in the treatment of high blood pressure and insomnia. More study is needed on this treatment.
 

Pain and Inflammation
 
Native Americans used Bugwort for centuries as a treatment for menstrual cramping. It has been found that bugwort has promising properties that help treat not only menstrual pain, but also the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis and other joint pain issues. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are particularly helped by bugwort.
 

Hot Flashes due to Breast Cancer Treatment
 
Those undergoing treatment for breast cancer often suffer from hot flashes due to the medications they must take. Bugwort is effective in reducing the intensity of these flashes, as well as the frequency.
 

Other
 
There is much study that needs to be done on the benefits of bugwort, but traditional treatments indicate that it may be effective in treating bronchitis, breast pain, depression, dizziness, diarrhea, and whooping cough.
 
 
 

Plant Description

Bugwort comes from a tall perennial plant that grows in northern temperate forests of North America. The plan has stems that grow up to three meters tall. The leaves are compound, alternate, three-pinnately leaves. The edges of the leaves are toothed, and the middle lobe of the leaf is the largest. The plant produces a flower that has no petals. The sepals of the flower are greenish-white and they grow on racemes above the leaves of the plant. The flowers produce a rather unpleasant odor, which is believed to repel insects. The herb is derived from the root of the plant, which is not a true root, but rather a rhizome.
 
 
 

What’s It Made Of?

Bugwort is made of glycosides, which are sugar compounds. The isoferulic acids bugwort contains are what make it work well as an anti-inflammatory herb. The plant’s phytoestrogens, or plant estrogens, are what are believed to create the positive effects of women going through menopause.
 
 
 

Available Forms

Bugwort is available in many forms. There are the traditional capsules to be swallowed, but the herb is also available in tablets and a liquid that is mixed with water. A popular way to take bugwort is by simmering the dried root in hot water to create a tea.
 

There is a similar herb called blue cohosh, which should not be confused with bugwort. Blue cohosh has similar effects as bugwort, but fewer studies have been done on this drug, and some researchers believe it has addictive qualities.
 
 
 

How To Take It
 

Pediatric
 
As the things bugwort is used to treat tend to be adult ailments, there are no known cases of children taking the drug. It is not recommended to be taken by children.
 

Adult
 
Adults should take between 40 and 80 mg of bugwort per day. For those taking it in liquid form, this is equal to between 2 and 4 mL three times a day. Most of the capsules or tablets on the market today fulfill this requirement with two pills a day. If you want to make your own drink out of bugwort, take 20 g of the dried root and put it in approximately 34 oz of water. Boil, and then simmer for a half an hour. You will know you are done simmering when the liquid is reduced by about a third. Strain off the left over root, and store, covered, in the refrigerator. The drink can be stored for up to two days.
 
 
 

Side Effects of Bugwort.

Bugwort, as any herb, can trigger side effects and allergic reactions in some patients. It is important to take any herbal medications with the counsel of a healthcare professional. There are many holistic doctors out there who will help you choose the correct herbs for you.
 
 
Possible side effects of bugwort include abdominal pain and diarrhea, dizziness, a slowed heart rate. Other side effects include visual issues, vomiting, and joint pain. Some research indicates that bugwort may possibly encourage the growth of breast cancer cells, so women who have a history of breast cancer should avoid taking the herb before talking to their doctor. Pregnant or lactating women should also avoid the drug, as it can lead to birth complications, and may be transmitted through the mother’s milk to the baby.
 

Possible Interactions

There have been no specific drug interactions found to date with bugwort. The extract has been used successfully in conjunction with hormone replacement therapies as well. As always, talk to your health care provider before starting any new herb or drug.

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