True unicorn root (Aletris farinosa
) 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.
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