Blue Cohosh - Caulophyllum thalictroides

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This Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) monograph is an excerpt from the first edition of Dr. Sharol's book "Herbal Medicine From The Heart of The Earth." You can purchase the 2020, third edition of this book with an expanded materia medica/monograph section, herbal formulas and directions on making herbal products in Dr. Sharol's Book Store. You receive free shipping in the USA. The expanded 3rd edition materia medica, and additional herbal tidbits are also available as a kindle ebook at Amazon and details on this e-book are here.

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Blue cohosh - Caulophyllum thalictroides in the Berberidaceae or Barberry family

Part used: Root.

Taste/smell: Bitter, slightly acrid, with a sweet aftertaste.

Tendencies: Cooling, drying.

Dosage: Decoction: 1 heaping teaspoon in a cup of water; or 1:5 dry plant liquid extract: 10-30 drops 1-4 times per day in a little water.

Mental picture and specific indications: The picture of blue cohosh is one of heavy, achy, spasmodic uterine pain with congestion and prolapsed lax tissues, pain in the thighs and lower back, spasmodic muscular pains, rheumatic pains and a dull frontal headache with thirst.

Use: (a) Diuretic, (b) Diaphoretic, (c) Nervine, (d) Emmenagogue, (e) Parturifacient, (f) Expectorant, (g) Female reproductive tract tonic.

Consider this herb when there is reproductive tract debility arising from chronic inflammatory conditions. It is both tonifying to atonic uterine tissue while it is also relaxing to spastic uterine muscles and is used for uterine atrophy, menstrual cramps, cervical varicose veins, amenorrhea, premature or profuse menstruation and atonic conditions. Blue cohosh has traditionally been used to relieve false labor pains while increasing the strength of the contractions during actual labor. It decreases pain in childbirth and alleviates “after pains.” It is indicated also in problems with the male reproductive tract, including orchitis and impotence.

Blue cohosh is beneficial for inflammation and congestion of a chronic nature, such as in arthritis. It has been shown to suppress proinflammatory cytokines.

It is a cerebrospinal trophorestorative and has been used for epilepsy.

The saponins have been found to be hormonally active.

This herb may have safety issues that were not known of in the past. Please read the below contraindications.

Contraindications: Because blue cohosh can increase blood to the pelvis, it should be used cautiously in woman with heavy menstruation. In rat studies, it has inhibited ovulation.  Usually not used during pregnancy due to uterine stimulation.  It may be used during pregnancy when indicated only under the guidance of a trained health care professional. Overdose may cause nausea, vomiting, headache, thirst, dilated pupils, muscle weakness, incoordination, constriction of coronary blood vessels, cardiovascular collapse and convulsions and is therefore contraindicated in angina or cardiac insufficiency. A 2008 safety review claims, “There are three case reports in the scientific literature that blue cohosh taken at the time of delivery may have caused; 1) perinatal stroke, 2) acute myocardial infarction profound congestive heart failure and shock in the baby, and 3) severe multi-organ hypoxic injury. There is one case report that blue cohosh possesses abortifacient properties. There is in vitro evidence that blue cohosh may have teratogenic, and embryotoxic effects.

If you are looking for directions on making teas or tinctures, please see our "Making Herbal Products" page.

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Copyright 1999 by Sharol Tilgner, N.D. (ISBN 1-881517-02-0) - all rights reserved.

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