Culver's Root

Culver's Root

There is one, or possibly two, perennial species in this genus, depending on whether the Siberian blackroot is regarded as a subspecies (Veronicastrum virginicum subsp. sibiricum), or as a separate species, V. sibiricum. The N American V. virginicum is a tall, graceful plant for borders and the wild garden. It is a powerful purgative and emetic with a long history of use among native North Americans. The common names "Culver's root" and "Culver's physic" (and "Brinton's Root") were first recorded in 1716; the first settler to use this herb was a Dr. Culver (or possibly Brinton) though no other references have been found. The name Veronicastrum is a combination of Veronica, named after St. Veronica, and astrum, "star", referring to the star-shaped arrangement of the leaves around the stem.

Native to the eastern United States, the root and below-ground parts of this plant are used medicinally to stimulate bowel movements, the flow of bile from the gallbladder, the release of intestinal gas, and perspiration. The fresh root has a much more potent effect than the dried root.

Upright perennial with a horizontal black rhizome, unbranched stems, and whorls orf 3-7 oblanceolate, pointed, finely toothed leaves, to 15cm (6in) long. Tubular white or pink flowers, 7mm (¼in) long, with protruding stamens, are born in summer.

Common Name:
Culver's Root
Other Names:
Black Root, Bowman's Root, Physic Root, Tall Veronica, Whorlywort
Botanical Name:
Veronicastrum virginicum syn. Leptandra virginica, Veronica virginica
Native Location:
N America (Ontario to Texas)
Well-drained, moist, rich soil in sun or partial shade. Made need staking.
By seed sown in autumn; by division in spring.
Rhizomes and roots are lifted in autumn, and dried for use in decoctions, liquid extracts, powders, tablets, and tinctures.
f. album
Has white flowers
Var. incarnatum
Syn. f. roseum

Has pale pink flowers
2m (6ft)
45cm (18in)
Parts Used:
Rhizomes and roots.
A bitter, laxative, tonic herb that increases perspiration, relaxes spasms, and stimulates the liver and gall bladder.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for chronic constipation and indigestion associated with liver disorders, and gall bladder inflammation. Combined with Berberis vulgaris (See, Common Barberry) and Taraxacum officinale (See, Dandelion) for liver complaints; and with Acorus calamus (See, Sweet Flag) and Hydrastic canadensis (See, Goldenseal) for constipation with gas and bloating.
To treat diarrhea, chronic constipation, disorders of the liver and gallbladder.
Typical Dose:
A typical homeopathic dose of black root may be 1 tablet, 5 drops, or 10 globules one or more times a day, depending on whether the problem is acute or chronic.
Possible Side Effects:
No side effects are known when black root is taken in designated therapeutic doses.
Drug Interactions:
Taking black root with these drugs increases the risk of hypokalemia (low levels of potassium in the blood):
Acetazolamide, (Apo-Acetazolamide, Diamox Sequels)
Azosemide, (Diat)
Bumetanide, (Bumex, Burinex)
Chlorothiazide, (Diuril)
Chlorthalidone, (Apo-Chlorthalidone, Thalitone)
Ethacrynic Acid, (Edecrin)
Etozolin, (Elkapin)
Furosemide, (Apo-Furosemide, Lasix)
Hydrochlorothiazide, (Apo-Hydro, Microzide)
Hydroflumethiazide, (Diucardin, Saluron)
Indapamide, (Lozol, Nu-Indapamide)
Mannitol, (Osmitrol, Resectisol)
Mefruside, (Baycaron)
Methazolamide, (Apo-Methazolamide, Neptazane)
Methyclothiazide, (Aquatensen, Enduron)
Metolazone, (Mykrox, Zaroxolyn)
Omesartan and Hydrochlorothiazide, (Benicar HCT)
Polythiazide, (Renese)
Torsemide, (Demadex)
Trichlormethiazide, (Metatensin, Naqua)
Urea, (Amino-Cerv, UltraMide)
Xipamide, (Diurexan, Lumitens)
Taking black root with these drugs decreases drug absorption:
Atropine, (Isopto Atropine, Sal-Tropine)
Digitalis, (Digitek, Lanoxin)
Scopolamine, (Scopace, Transderm Scop)
Disease Effects:
May worsen cases of inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract.
Supplement Interaction:
Fresh roots, or dried taken to excess, cause vomiting and severe diarrhea with bleeding.
Encylopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright ©: 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited pg 402-403
The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide by Geo. T. Grossberg,MD and Barry Fox,PhD Copyright©2007 Barry Fox,PhD Pp.81-82