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False Unicorn Root.  In the 5 ½ years that The Herb Shoppe has been open, I have never included this herb in the inventory.  That is, until now.  Chamaelirium luteum has been elusive to me for years.  Upon hearing its name alone it has provoked a sense of reverie.  Having known it has been on the botanical endangered list since the early 1970’s I choose to covet the herb and do everything possible to educate others on using herbal substitutions.  So why now, at this time, am I so drawn to using it?

Native to North America Chamaelirium luteum is also known as Helonis and goes by several common names such as: Fairy Wand, Devil’s Bit and Blazing Star.  It is native to North America and there appears to be a wide range of discussion as to where it is native to.  Generally it covers a wide range stretching from Florida north to New York (some say Canada/Michigan) and west to the Mississippi River. It is an herbaceous perennial, its leaves form a basal rosette with an emerging flower stalk that bears either a male or female flower spike about two feet tall. Flowering occurs from March through June depending which climate zone you are in. 


Medicinally Chamaelirium luteum is considered predominantly a women’s reproductive herb.  Traditionally used by the Native Amercian population, this is most likely how we learned about the valuable uses for this plant.  Considered invaluable for preventing or arresting miscarriage, anytime there is absence of menses (amenorrhea), infertility, and the persistent feeling of heaviness or dragging of the lower abdomen or uterus.  


The rhizome is the medicinal part of the plant, and it is harvested in the fall.  A rhizome is the plant stem that grows horizontally under or along the ground and often sends out roots and shoots.

Other plants that utilize the rhizome, such as Oregon Grape root, can be safely harvested without killing the entire plant.  Unfortunately that is not the reported findings with Chamaelirium luteum.  This is why its numbers have greatly dwendled over the years.

The need to create sustainable cultivation practices is much needed at this time.  The growing numbers of infertility, miscarriages and gynecological complaints could benefit greatly from the use of this precious resource.

Having recently used Chamaelirium luteum with success, a patient suffering from amenorrhea for 16 months, I have asked it to become an ally and use it with its permission only when absolutely necessary. 

February 23, 2011 by JJ Pursell

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