Blue Cohosh

Two species of rhizomatous perennials belong to this genus; one in E Asia, and the other, C. thalichtroides, in rich, moist woods in eastern N America. The name comes from the Greek kaulon, "the stem", and phyllon, "leaf", referring to the way the stem of the plant forms a stalk for the solitary, compound leaf, which divides into three deeply lobed leaflets. The flowers of C. thalictroides arise from the base of the uppermost leaflet in spring. The common name "cohosh" is of Algonquin origin. Caulophyllum thalictroides is one of the most important herbs for women and was used by various native American tribes to facilitate childbirth, giving rise to names such as squaw root and papoose root. Its popularity led to inclusion in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia (1882-1905). The Asian species C. robustum, once considered a variety of C. thalictroides, may have similar properties, and is known to be fungicidal. It is used in Chinese folk medicine to heal injuries, including fractures, rheumatism, digestive problems, and menstrual disorders.

The flowers of the blue cohosh plant (which is not related to the black cohosh plant) were used by Native Americans to induce labor and menstruation. Today the herb's ability to stimulate uterine contractions is thought to stem from a substance it contains called caulosaponin. Blue cohosh has also been used traditionally to treat painful periods, kidney infections, arthritis, and other ailments.

Slow-growing, rhizomatous perennial with a matted rootstock and glaucous, compound leaf. Yellow-green to purplish, star-shaped flowers, 1cm (3/8in) across, appear with new leaves, followed by deep blue berries.

Common Name:
Blue Cohosh
Other Names:
Beechdrops, Blue Ginseng, Blueberry Root, Papoose Root,Squaw root
Botanical Name:
Caulophyllum thalictroides
Native Location:
E Asia, N America
Rich, moist, neutral to acid soil in dappled or deep shade.
By seed sown when ripe (slow to germinate); by division in autumn.
Rhizomes and roots are lifted in autumn and dried for decoctions, liquid extracts, powders, and tinctures.
30-75cm (12-30in)
Parts Used:
Rhizomes, roots
An acrid, bitter, warming herb that stimulates the uterus, reduces inflammation, relaxes spasms, expels intestinal worms, and has diuretic effects.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, slow, erratic menstruation and parturition, and retained placenta. Taken in the last four weeks of pregnancy, and during labor, to facilitate contractions and cervical dilation. Also for rheumatism, arthritis, and gout.
To treat menstrual difficulties, lack of menstruation, impending miscarriage, and rheumatic symptoms.
Typical Dose:
A typical dose of blue cohosh may range from 0.3 to 1.0gm of herb of 0.4 to 1.0ml or liquid extract per day.
Possible Side Effects:
Blue cohosh's side effects include, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, inflammation of the skin, excessive sweating, and weakness.
Drug Interactions:
Taking blue cohosh with these drugs may alter the effect of the drug:
Arcabose, (Prandase, Precose)
Acebutolol, (Novo-Acebutolol, Sectral)
Acetohexamide, (Acetohexamide)
Amlopidine, (Norvasc)
Atenolol, (Apo-Atenolol, Tenormin)
Benazepril, (Lotensil)
Betaxolol, (Betoptic S, Kerlone)
Bisoprolol, (Monocor, Zebeta)
Bumetanide, (Bumex, Burinex)
Candesartan, (Atacand)
Captopril, (Capoten, Novo-Captopril)
Carteolol, (Cartrol, Ocupress)
Carvedilol, (Coreg)
Chlorothiazide, (Diuril)
Chlorpropamide, (Diabinese, Novo-Propamide)
Chlorthalidone, (Apo-Chlorthalidone, Thalitone)
Clonidine, (Catapres, Duraclon)
Diazoxide, (Hyperstat, Proglycem)
Diltiazem, (Cardizem, Tiazac)
Doxazosin, (Alti-doxazosin, Cardura)
Enalapril, (Vasotec)
Eplerenone, (Inspra)
Eprosartan, (Teveten)
Esmolol, (Brevibloc)
Felodipine, (Plendil, Renedil)
Fenoldopam, (Corlopam)
Fosinopril, (Monopril)
Furosemide, (Apo-Furosemide, Lasix)
Gliclazide, (Diamicron, Novo-Gliclazide)
Glimepiride, (Amaryl)
Glipizide, (Glucotrol)
Glipizide and Metformin, (Metaglip)
Gliquidone, (Beglynor, Glurenorm)
Glyburide, (DiaBeta, Micronase)
Glyburide and Metformin, (Glucovance)
Guanabenz, (Wytensin)
Guanadrel, (Hylorel)
Guanfacine, (Tenex)
Hydralazine, (Apresoline, Novo-Hylazin)
Hydrochlorothiazide, (Apo-Hydro, Microzide)
Hydrochlorothiazide and Triamterene, (Dyazide, Maxzide)
Indapamide, (Lozol, Novo-Indapamide)
Insulin, (Humulin, Novolin R)
Irbesartan, (Avapro)
Isradipine, (DynaCirc)
Labetolol, (Normodyne, Trandate)
Lisinopril, (Prinivil, Zestril)
Losartan, (Cozaar)
Mecamylamine, (Inversine)
Mefruside, (Baycaron)
Metformin, (Glucophage, Riomet)
Methyclothiazide, (Aquatensen, Enduron)
Methyldopa, (Apo-Methyldopa, Nu-Medopa)
Metolazone, (Mykrox, Zaroxolyn)
Metoprolol, (Betaloc, Lopressor)
Miglitol, (Glyset)
Minoxidil, (Loniten, Rogaine)
Moexipril, (Univasc)
Nadolol, (Apo-Nadol, Corgard)
Nateglinide, (Starlix)
Nicardipine, (Cardene)
Nifedipine, (Adalat CC, Procardia)
Nisoldipine, (Sular)
Nitroglycerin, (Minitran, Nitro-Dur)
Nitroprusside, (Nipride, Nitropress)
Olmesartan, (Benicar)
Oxprenolol, (Slow-Trasicor, Trasicor)
Perindopril Erbumine, (Aceon, Coversyl)
Phenoxybenzamine, (Dibenzyline)
Phentolamine, (Regitine, Rogitine)
Pindolol, (Apo-Pindol, Novo-Pindol)
Pioglitazone, (Actos)
Polythiazide, (Renese)
Prazosin, (Minipress, Nu-Prazo)
Propranolol, (Inderal, InnoPran XL)
Quinapril, (Accupril)
Ramipril, (Altace)
Repaglinide, (GlucoNorm, Prandin)
Reserpine, (Reserpine)
Rosiglitazone, (Avandia)
Rosiglitazone and Metformin, (Avandamet)
Spironolactone, (Aldactone, Novo-Spiroton)
Telmisartan, (Micardis)
Terazosin, (Alti-Terazosin, Hytrin)
Timolol, (Betimol, Timoptic)
Tolazamide, (Tolinase)
Tolbutamide, (Apo-Tolbutamide, Tol-Tab)
Torsemide, (Demadex)
Trandolapril, (Mavik)
Triamterene, (Dyrenium)
Trichlormethiazide, (Metatensin, Naqua)
Valsartan, (Diovan)
Verapamil, (Calan, Isoptin SR)
Disease Effects:
  • May worsen elevated blood pressure, angina, and other cardiovascular ailments by increasing blood pressure.
  • May worsen diarrhea by encouraging the movement of feces through the bowels.
  • May worsen diabetes by raising blood sugar levels.
  • This herb may have estrogen-like effects and should not be use by women with estrogen-sensitive breast cancer or other hormone-sensitive conditions.
Not given to patients with hypertension and heart disease. For use by qualified practitioners only.
Encyclopedia of herbs by Deni Brown Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited. pg 159
The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide by Geo. T. Grossberg, MD and Barry Fox,PhD Copyright©2007 by Barry Fox,PhD. Pp. 87-89