(Chamaelirium luteum)


Just coming up in early spring. April 3 Female plant in early spring Still growing, April 29    

Botanical name:
Chamaelirium luteum

Parts used and where grown

False unicorn is native to Mississippi and continues to grow primarily in the southern part of the United States. The roots of false unicorn are most commonly used in herbal medicine.

False unicorn has been used in connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual health concern for complete information):

Science Ratings Health Concerns

Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation)

3Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.


Historical or traditional use (may or may not be supported by scientific studies)

The medicinal use of false unicorn root is based in traditional Native American herbalism. It was recommended for many womenĄŻs health conditions, including dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation) and other irregularities of menstruation, as well as to prevent miscarriages.1 False unicorn was also used as a remedy for morning sickness.

Active constituents

Steroidal saponins are generally credited with providing false unicorn rootĄŻs activity.2 However, modern investigations have not confirmed this, and no research exists about the medical applications of this herb.

How much is usually taken?

False unicorn root tincture, 1/2–1 teaspoon (2–5 ml) three times per day, is sometimes recommended .3 The dried root, 1/4–1/2 teaspoon (1–2 grams) three times per day, is also used.

Are there any side effects or interactions?

No adverse effects have been reported with the use of false unicorn. Although false unicorn has been used historically for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy and to prevent miscarriages, its actions as a possible uterine tonic make its use during pregnancy potentially unsafe.

At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with false unicorn.


1. Mills SY. Out of the Earth: The Essential Book of Herbal Medicine. Middlesex, UK: Viking Arkana, 1991, 520–2.

2. Mills SY. Out of the Earth: The Essential Book of Herbal Medicine. Middlesex, UK: Viking Arkana, 1991, 520–2.

3. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 116.

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