Cimicifuga. U. S. Cimicifuga Cimicif. [Black Cohosh, Black Snakeroot, Macrotys]

Botanical name: 

"The dried rhizome and roots of Cimicifuga racemosa (Linne) Nuttall (Fam. Ranunculaceae), without the presence or admixture of more than 2 per cent. of stems or foreign matter." U. S.

Cimicifugae Rhizoma, Br., 1898, Actaeae Racemosae Radix; Cohosh; Macrotys; Rattleroot; Squaw Root; Rattle Snake Root; Bugbane; Rattle Weed; Richweed; Bugwort, Rattletop; Racine d'Actee a Grappes, Fr.; Schwarze Schlangenwurzel, G.

Cimicifuga was dismissed from the Br. Pharm., 1914.

Cimicifuga racemosa is a tall stately plant, having a perennial root, and a simple herbaceous stem, which rises from four to eight feet in height. The leaves are large, and ternately decompound, having oblong-ovate leaflets, incised and toothed at their edges. The flowers are small, white, and disposed in a long, terminal, wand-like raceme, with occasionally one or two shorter racemes near its base. The calyx is white, four-leaved, and deciduous; the petals are minute, and shorter than the stamens; the pistil consists of an oval ovary and sessile stigma. The fruit is an ovoid capsule containing numerous flat seeds. The plant grows in shady or rocky woods from Southern New England to Wisconsin and southward, flowering in June and July. The name Cimicifuga is derived from the Latin Cimex, bug; and fugare, to drive away.

Properties.—It is officially described as follows : "Rhizome horizontal, more or less branching, from 2 to 12 cm. in length, and from 1 to 2.5 cm. in thickness; externally dark brown, slightly annulate from circular scars of bud scale-leaves, the upper surface with numerous stout, erect or somewhat curved branches terminated by deep, cup-shaped sears, each of which usually shows a distinct radiate structure; inferior and lateral portions with numerous root-scars and a few short roots; fracture horny; internally whitish and mealy or dark brown and waxy, bark thin, wood distinctly radiate and of about the same thickness as the pith; odor slight; taste bitter and acrid. Roots somewhat cylindrical or obtusely quadrangular, from 1 to 3 mm. in thickness, externally dark brown, longitudinally wrinkled; fracture short; internally bark dark brown, wood yellowish, 4 to 6-rayed. Under the microscope, sections of the rhizome of Cimicifuga show a yellowish-brown suberized epidermis, a cortex made up of about 30 layers of starch-bearing parenchyma cells; the fibro-vascular bundles collateral, the xylem consisting of tracheae with bordered pores, and resembling tracheids in that the ends are rather acute; wood-fibers numerous, thin-walled, strongly lignified and with simple, oblique pores, the bundles separated by starch-bearing parenchyma strands from 5 to 30 cells wide; pith cells numerous, resembling those of the cortex. Under the microscope, sections of the root of Cimicifuga show a hairy epidermis, which becomes suberized in older roots; the cortex shows about 12 rows of starch-bearing parenchyma cells; endodermis distinct; fibro-vascular bundles 4 to 6, showing in older roots as separate collateral bundles. The powder is light to dark brown; starch grains numerous, single or compound, the individual grains spherical or more or less polygonal, each with a somewhat central cleft, from 0.003 to 0.015 mm. in diameter; fragments showing trachea with bordered pores and lignified wood-fibers; irregular, yellowish-brown fragments of suberized epidermis made up of more or less tabular cells, sometimes elongated and considerably thickened. Cimicifuga yields not more than 10 per cent. of ash." U. S.

For a detailed description of the microscopic character of the root, see A. J. P., 1884, 460; also 1895, 121; Holm., M. K., 1911, p. 6.

The roots "exhibit in transverse section from three to five wedge-shaped wood-bundles, separated by as many broad medullary rays. Both rhizome and roots are blackened by test-solution of ferric chloride (presence of tannic acid)." Br., 1898.

The odor, though not strong, is peculiar and rather disagreeable, and is gradually lost with age. The drug of commerce is likely to be unintentionally admixed with other species of Cimicifuga and Actaea. Cimicifuga yields its virtues to boiling water.

Tilghman found gum, starch, sugar, resin, wax, fatty matter, taunic and gallic acids, a black coloring matter, a green coloring matter, lignin, and salts of potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron. (A. J. P., vi.) It no doubt also contains, when fresh, a volatile principle, with which its virtues may be in some degree associated. Davis separated by distillation a small proportion of volatile oil having decidedly the peculiar odor of the root. He also found albumen, extractive, and silica. The sugar noticed by him was of the uncrystallizable variety, and the resin of two kinds, one soluble in alcohol but not in ether, the other soluble in both these menstrua. (A. J. P., xxxiii.) A crystallizable principle has been obtained by T. Elwood Conard from a strong tincture of the root by treating with solution of lead sub-acetate to precipitate resin, tannin, and coloring matters, then filtering, and precipitating the lead by hydrogen sulphide in excess, and allowing the tincture to evaporate spontaneously; and, finally, having treated the residuary powder with petroleum benzin, afterwards washing it with water, dissolving it to saturation in strong alcohol, and treating the solution with alumina. The mixture was allowed to evaporate to a dry mass, which was nearly exhausted with alcohol. The solution, being allowed to evaporate, left behind a crystalline mass, somewhat resembling alum. This substance has little taste, on account of its extreme insolubility in the saliva, but in alcoholic solutions has very strongly the acrid taste characteristic of the fresh root. The crystals are very soluble in cold, and more so in hot alcohol, soluble also in chloroform, and slightly so in ether. They are fusible and inflammable. They are neutral, possessing neither acid nor alkaline properties. Their effects on the system were not determined. (A. J. P., 1871.) L. F. Beach (A. J. P., 1876) obtained from commercial resin of cimicifuga (the so-called cimicifugin or macrotin) a crystalline principle by Conard's process. M. S. Faick (A. J. P., 1884) found in the juice of the fresh plant a crystalline principle resembling the principle announced by Conard. On the other hand, neither F. H. Trimble (A. J. P., 1878) nor Warder and Coblentz were able to obtain a crystalline principle, while C. S. Gallagher obtained crystals of cane sugar from the fluidextract. (A. J. P., 1887.) In view of these facts, it would appear that the active principle is a resinous amorphous body. (See Drugs and Medicines of North America, vol. i.) Pinnemore reports on the chemical examination of the rhizome of cimicifuga. A systematic examination has resulted in the isolation and identification of isoferulic acid, also a minute quantity of an acid whose melting point was unaffected by admixture with salicylic acid. Palmitic, oleic, and other unsaturated acids, and phytosterol, are also present, and distinct reactions for alkaloids have been found, but the amount present is very small. (P. J., 1910, 31 (85), pp. 142-144,178.)

Uses.—In 1831 cimicifuga was introduced to the notice of the profession by Young. In overdoses it is said to cause general relaxation, vertigo, tremors, decided reduction of the pulse; occasionally it causes vomiting, but its emetic action is never violent, and is probably simply the result of a mild gastric irritation. It certainly, in large doses, produces giddiness, with intense headache and prostration. It has been found by R. Hutchinson to cause in frogs complete anesthesia by a direct action upon the sensory side of the spinal cord. The same observer noted that toxic doses produce in mammals slowing of the pulse and fall of the arterial pressure, results which appear to be due in part to a direct depressant action upon the heart muscle or its ganglia, in part to a paralysis of the vasomotor center. Clinical experience has shown this drug to be a useful remedy in the treatment of chorea. It has also been employed, though with less certainty of benefit, in chronic rheumatism, urticaria, neuralgia, and dysmenorrhea. It is also asserted to act as a specific in tinnitus aurium.

In chorea it is necessary to give large doses. The proper method of administration is to start with about fifteen minims of the fluidextract three times a day, increasing one minim daily until the occurrence of frontal headache or improvement in the condition. The practitioners calling themselves eclectics use, under the name of cimicifugin, or macrotin, an impure resin obtained by precipitating a saturated tincture of the root with water; dose, a grain or two (0.065-0.13 Gm.). (See N. J. Med. Rep., viii, 247.)

Dose, of powdered cimicifuga, five to thirty grains (0.3-2.0 Gm.).

Off. Prep.Extractum Cimicifugae, U. S.; Fluidextractum Cimicifugae, U. S.; Elixir Sodii Salicylatis Compositum (from Fluidextract), N. F.; Syrupus Cimicifugae Compositus (from Fluidextract), N. F.; Tinctura Cimicifugae, N.F.

The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.