Botanical: Chamaelirium luteum
Family: Liliaceae/Melanthiaceae (lily)
Other common names: Helonias Root, Starwort, Devil's Bit, Devil's Bite, Blazing Star Root, Fairy Wand
False Unicorn Root is an early American tonic that was used by Native Americans and settlers alike for virtually all complaints, including liver and kidney ailments, worms, fevers and indigestion, but perhaps its greatest value came in relieving female disorders of the reproductive organs, including menstrual and menopausal symptoms. It is also thought to help genitourinary complaints and infertility (in both men and women!).
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
False Unicorn Root is an herbaceous, tuberous, summer-flowering plant that is native to the eastern United States, where it is found in low, moist ground. The hardy perennial grows to a height of three feet and a width of fifteen inches with a basal rosette of smooth, spoon-shaped leaves, an erect stem of eight-inch, lance-shaped leaves and topped by a dense raceme of tiny, greenish-white, star-shaped flowers. The plant thrives in damp woods and bogs in rich, moist, well-drained humus soil in partial shade, and the roots are harvested from the wild in autumn, dried, and used in herbal medicine. Its botanical name, Chamaelirium, is derived from two Greek words, chamai, meaning "slow growing," and leirion, meaning "lily," and the plant's botanical specific, luteum, means "yellow," referring to the fact that the flowers yellow with age. There is only one species in this genus, and it is closely related to Helonias, giving the herb one of its common names (Helonias Root). Another common name, Devil's Bit, refers to the herb's early Native American use as a "cure-all" that angered a bad spirit, who bit off a piece of the root to prevent its use. False Unicorn Root is so-called to distinguish it from true Unicorn Root (Aletris farinosa), a plant with different medicinal applications. False Unicorn Root was first used by Native North Americans to prevent miscarriage, expel worms and to treat liver and kidney ailments, and it soon found favor with the settlers, who used it in a like manner. By the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the herb had become an important domestic remedy for depression, infertility and the "derangements of women," as well as a cough remedy when chewed. False Unicorn Root was officially listed in the United States National Formulary from 1916 through 1947, and is still regarded by present day herbalists as invaluable for gynecological problems. Some of the constituents included in False Unicorn Root are saponins and chamaelirin, a fatty acid.
False Unicorn Root appears to have its greatest value in female disorders of the reproductive organs and has been used for centuries to ease a multitude of women's complaints. Recent pharmacology has indicated that the saponins in the herb have "adaptongenic" effects on the ovaries, which help to strengthen them and increase their resistance to stress. The herb is said to stimulate ovarian hormones and may be helpful in cases of early menopause after hysterectomy or to restart the system after years of contraception (giving some credence to its historic use as a fertility aid). In addition, it is also said to relieve vaginal dryness, hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and depression (also echoing its past use in herbal medicine), as well as other symptoms related to menopause.
Further supporting women's health, False Unicorn Root is said to relieve many "female problems," including menstrual difficulties (irregular periods, PMS and mood swings), fibroids, infertility, vaginal discharge, prolapsed uterus, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease and threatened miscarriage (although this application is no longer recommended without consulting a physician).
False Unicorn Root is believed to act as a tonic for the genitourinary organs and exerts a gentle strengthening effect on them. The herb's chamaelirin is a potent antiseptic that helps to relieve urinary tract infection and irritability, with a nourishing effect that is helpful for genitourinary weakness. Its diuretic properties also promote urine flow, further supporting the urinary tract and may also validate the herb's longtime use as a kidney tonic.
As a vermifuge and parasiticide, False Unicorn Root has been used to destroy and expel worms (including tapeworms) from the intestinal tract.
False Unicorn Root has been used to help male impotence and prostate problems.
As a digestive, False Unicorn Root is said to ease dyspepsia, nausea, colic, loss of appetite and morning sickness (but again, pregnant women are advised to use this herb only under the care of a physician).
Although this herb has been used to diminish miscarriage, pregnant women should not use False Unicorn Root Herbal Supplement without first consulting a physician. Overuse (many times the recommended dosage) causes vomiting, and it is wise to consult with a health care provider before using this herb for specific applications.