Herbal Medicine 101, Lesson 29: Doll's Eyes/Baneberry


  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,517 admin

    We have red baneberries here as well as the white. Not a different species, just a colour variation. They are very shiny as if painted with Chinese lacquer. Acteae rubra. The red ones could be very attractive to small children. They are fairly common and quite wide spread throughout the Pacific Northwest.

    Cimicifuga racemosa (Black Cohosh) has now been reclassified and is in the Acteae genus, A. racemosa. So you can see why baneberry may have had the common name of White Cohosh, even before the advent of DNA testing.

    I’ve never used this plant medicinally as I think there are others that are safer for general use. However, it is one of those herbs that it is nice to know about, when nothing else is available. I’m not sure of dosing but would suggest that it is likely a very low dose (single drop) herb.

    Another caution is there are some other herbs that, when young, resemble Acteae. Sweet Cicely is one. On plant walks, I caution not to use Sweet Cicely until it has developed fruit (seeds) cause it can resemble Baneberry leaves at a young stage. A lot of the Rannunculaceae family have a similar appearance (especially when young) to the Apiaceae family (which also has several toxic family members).

  • karenjanicki
    karenjanicki Posts: 947 ✭✭✭✭
    edited September 2021

    Interesting. I thought they were poisonous? A video I watched made it sound like they are deadly toxic. Although I have been surprised before to learn some people do use toxic plants. I'm still a pretty immature herbalist so I have alot to learn. Thanks for sharing your videos!

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,361 admin

    @torey is right, it is a poisonous plant. I didn't mean to downplay its potential toxicity, but it is a useful herb in small doses. The name, "baneberry" implies that the berries are poisonous.

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,361 admin

    Here are MM's recommendations on dosage:

    Actaea rubra, etc, - Baneberry, Doll’s Eyes

    ACTAEA RUBRA (A. arguta, Baneberry) ROOT. Fresh or Dry Tincture, [1:2, or 1:5, 80% alcohol] 10-20 drops to 3X a day. STATUS : W/A

  • karenjanicki
    karenjanicki Posts: 947 ✭✭✭✭

    Fascinating. I'll have to dig a little deeper to learn more about this. Thanks!

  • water2world
    water2world Posts: 1,091 ✭✭✭✭

    @judsoncarroll4 As usual, you have peaked my interest and I will look into this more.

    Thank you!