True unicorn root (Aletris farinosa L.) is a low-growing perennial herb native to eastern North America. Found in old growth forests, the true unicorn root plant is currently thought to be at risk due to destruction of its habitat. The rhizome, an underground stem, is commercially processed into dried pieces.
True unicorn root has been used in Native American traditional remedies for stomach aches, colic, dysentery, and menstrual disorders. Large doses of the fresh root may act as a narcotic and laxative and may induce vomiting. The dried root is also traditionally used to treat gas or hysteria, as a stomach toner, as a tonic for women, for body pain, and to prevent miscarriage; however, some advise against its use during the third trimester of pregnancy due to its uterine stimulation effects. Well-designed human studies are needed to determine if true unicorn root is safe and effective for treating any medical condition.
Ague grass, ague-root, aletris (Spanish), Aletris farinose, aletris farinseu (French), aloeroot, bettie grass, bitter grass, black-root, blazing star, colicroot, colic-root, colicweed, crow corn, devil's bit, diosgenin, gentrogenin, Liliaceae (family), mehlige Aletria (German), saponins, stargrass, star-root, starwort, unicorn root, white colic root.
Note: True unicorn root (Aletris farinosa L.) should not be confused with false unicorn root (Helonias luteum or Chamaelirium luteum). These herbs differ in chemical composition and claimed uses.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.