False Unicorn Root

Chamaelirium luteum


Names: Starwort, Helonias Root.

Habitat: USA

Collection: The underground parts are unearthed in the autumn.

Part Used: Dried rhizome and root.

Constituents: Saponins; the glycosides chamaelirin and
helonin, basedon diosgenin.

Actions: Uterine tonic, diuretic, anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, emmenagogue.

Indications: This herb, which comes to us via the North
American Indians, is one of the best tonics and strengtheners of
the reproductive system that we have. Though primarily used for
the female system, it can be equally beneficial for men. It is
known to contain precursors of the estrogens. However, it acts
in an amphoteric way to normalize function. The body may use this
herb to balance and tone and thus it will aid in apparently opposite situations.
Whilst being of help in all uterine problems, it is specifically useful
in delayed or absent menstruation. Where ovarian pain occurs,
False Unicorn Root may be safely used. It is also indicated to
prevent threatened miscarriage and ease vomiting associated
with pregnancy. However, large doses will cause nausea and vomiting.

King’s Dispensatory: “Chamaelirium is tonic,
diuretic, and vermifuge; in large doses, emetic, and, when fresh,
sialagogue. In doses of 10 or 15 grains of the powdered root, repeated
3 or 4 times a day, it has been found very beneficial in dyspepsia,
loss of appetite, and for the removal of worms. It is more
especially applicable in indigestion, dyspepia, and
mal-assimilation, where the trouble is reflex from, or associated
with wrongs of the female reproductive apparatus. It is said to
render the urine alkaline. It is reputed beneficial in colic,
and is valuable in atony of the generative organs. I have found this plant to possess a decidedly beneficial influence in cases
of sexual lassitude in both sexes, and of nocturnal emissions,
the result of excesses, especially in those instances where there
are symptoms of gastric derangement with impaired memory, mental
apathy, or indifference, and an enfeebled condition of the general
system, with weakness or dull pain in the renal, or lumbo-sacral
region. In diseases of the reproductive organs of females, and
especially of the uterus, it is one of our most valuable agents,
acting as a uterine tonic, and gradually removing abnormal conditions,
while at the same time it imparts tone and vigor to the reproductive
organs. Hence, it is much used in leucorrhoea, amenorrhoea,
dysmennorhoea, and to remove the tendency to repeated and
successive miscarriages. A particular phase removed by it
is the irritability and despondency that often attends uterine
troubles. In painful menstruation it has been found especially
adapted to those cases in which there is pelvic fullness, a sensation
as if the womb and rectum were distended with blood, and the aching,
bearing down organs feel as if they would fall out of the body.
Its action here is very decided when the smaller doses are employed.
It is considered useful by some for the relief of the vomiting
of pregnancy
. Chamaelirium is a decided tonic to the
urinary tract and has exerted some benefit in diabetes insipidus. ”

Cook describes it thus,”The root of helonias
is a strong bitter, and one of the most distinctly stimulating
of all tonics. It acts very generally upon the system, including
in its range the salivary glands, respiratory organs stomach,
gall-ducts, uterus, and ovaries. It stimulates the salivary flow,
excites the fauces and respiratory passages, and promotes expectoration,
for which purposes it is useful in greatly depressed and atonic conditions
of the lungs, but should never be used in sensitive conditions.
But its most prominent and valuable action is upon the uterine
organs; where its carcely has an equal in atonic forms of prolapsus,
leucorrhea, passive hemorrhage and menorrhagia, and similar enfeebled
conditions. Though in no sense an astringent, its tonic influence
is peculiarly efficacious in arresting too excessive menstruation
and lochia, when associated with laxity and depression; and it
rarely fails to arrest a threatened abortion arising from
the same conditions. In these connections, it is one of the most
reliable tonics in the Materia Medica.”

Preparations & Dosage: Decoction: put l-2 teaspoonfuls
of the root in a cup of water, bring to boiling and simmer gently
for l0-l5 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day. For
threatened miscarriage it may be drunk copiously. Tincture: take 2-4 ml of the tincture three times a day.

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Written by David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH

Explore Wellness in 2021