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Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • Alkaloid, alpha-isolupanine, anagyrine, aporphine, baptifoline, beechdrops, Berberidaceae (family), blue cohosh root, blue ginseng, blueberry, Caulophyllum, Caulophyllum thalictroides Mich., Leontice thalictroides (L.), lupanine, magnoflorine, Mastodynon, N-methylcytisine, papoose root, quinolizidine alkaloids, saponins, scaulophylline, sparteine, squaw root, taspine, thalictroidine, triterpene saponins, yellow ginseng.
  • Combination product examples: E.A.R. Plus® (lobelia, black cohosh, blue cohosh, blue vervain, scull-cap, and garlic in olive oil), Mother's Cordial (Mitchella repens, Chamaelirium luteum, Viburnum opulu, Caulophyllum, brandy, sugar, and essence of sassafras).
  • Note: Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) should not be confused with black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa), an over-the-counter herbal supplement sold as a menopause and menstrual remedy.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Blue cohosh has been used for hundreds of years primarily to help women, particularly in the area of childbirth. It was used as a medicinal herb by Native American women to facilitate childbirth. Today, the herb is most commonly used to stimulate labor and to ease the effects of labor. Constituents of the herb have shown to have labor induction properties and have increased the rate and degree of uterine contraction in vitro and in vivo (1). One constituent, N-methylcytisine, has been proven to have nicotinic effects (2). Also, recent case studies have questioned the safety of blue cohosh due to toxicologic effects on the mother and fetus (3;4;5;6). Although, blue cohosh has been indicated for many conditions, all indications lack sufficient scientific data to support their efficacy and safety at this time. More research is needed in these areas before firm conclusions can be drawn. Blue cohosh is also thought to help pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, erratic menstruation, and retained placenta. In addition, the herb is also believed to relieve ovarian neuralgia.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.