False Unicorn Root Identification:
Chamaelirium is an herbaceous perennial. Stem 1 to 3 feet high, simple, smooth, angular; leaves alternate, spatulate below, lanceolate above, radical leaves, 8 inches long, 1/2 inch wide, narrow at base and formed into a whorl; flowers numerous, small, greenish white, bractless, dioecious, in a dense, terminal raceme, nodding like a plume, 6 inches long, petals of such
flowers narrow, stamens longer than the petals, filaments tapering; anthers terminal, two lobed; petals of female flowers linear; stamens short; ovary ovate, triangular, furrowed; stigmas three-capsule, oblong, three-furrowed, opening at summit; fruit many, compressed, acute; rhizome bulbous, terminating abruptly, one inch long; the odor is faint and the taste is bitter.
Family: Liliaceae (Lily Family)
Flowers: May – June
Parts Used: Dried rhizome and roots. Harvest: In September, after flowering.
Other Names: Devil’s Bit
Habitat: Low moist ground. Native to North America east of the Mississippi.
Constituents: Steroidal saponins (including chamaelirin, a glycoside of diosgenin), helonin (a glycoside), free diosgenin, starch, and calcium oxalate.
Properties: Emmenagogue, diuretic, emetic, anthelmintic.
Main Uses: Specifically indicated in amenorrhoea (lack of menstruation) and also used in ovarian dysmenorrhoea (painful menstruation), menopausal complaints, leucorrhoea, the vomiting of pregnancy and threatened miscarriage This herb is a valuable tonic to the reproductive system. It improves the secretory responses and cyclical functions of the ovary and appears to have an adaptogenic action on that organ. The steroidal saponins, precursors of the oestrogens, may account in part for this herb’s reputation as an ovarian and uterine tonic.
Chamaelirium is of value in the treatment of irregular menstruation, PMS, vaginal discharge, pelvic congestion and structural laxity of the pelvic organs. It is of particular benefit in chronic pelvic inflammation such as chronic salpingitis, and for the hormonal adjustment problems that are a part of the menopause. It was traditionally used to prevent miscarriage and has a reputation for improving fertility caused by dysfunction in follicular formation. It can be effective against morning sickness, although large doses actually cause vomiting. While primarily used in the treatment of the female reproductive system, Chamaelirium can be equally beneficial for men, and is useful in the treatment of impotence. Its tonic properties are of benefit to the appetite and digestion, and it also kills and helps expel worms.
Combinations: Chamaelirium combines well with Echinacea in chronic pelvic inflammation.
Caution Caution: Very large doses may cause nausea and vomiting.
Preparation And Dosages:
Dried rhizome and roots: 1-2g or by infusion or decoction
Liquid Extract [1:1 in 45% alcohol] 10-20 drops, up to 3 times a day.
Tincture [1:5, 50% alcohol] 10-40 drops, up to 3 times a day.