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Plant Family:

Berberidaceae Family


Habitat & Cultivation: 

There are multiple, similar, species in the genus Caulophyllum - the C. robustum species is native to eastern Asia, C. thalictroides and C. giganteum are both native to eastern North America.


Blue cohosh naturally grows in Allegheny and Upper Appalachian Mountains and hardwood forests from New Jersey to South Carolina stretching east to the Mississippi River.  Due to loss of habitat and over harvesting it is now mostly grown in gardens and on farms that can provide the shade that it requires to thrive.


Blue cohosh was previously used to treat colic and cramps in children.  Various tribes used blue cohosh as an anticonvulsive, sedative, a gynecological aid, an antirheumatic, purgative, catarrhal, and for topical burns. Historically, blue cohosh was also used as an emmenagogue and preparatory parturient to induce labor, help with stalled labor, suppressed menses, uterine cramps, and dysmenorrhea. 

Today, blue cohosh is commonly used by midwives for labor stimulation and augmentation.


Parts Used/Collection: 

Fresh or dried roots and rhizomes  


Herbal Actions: 

  • prepartory parturient

  • Antispasmodic

  • Diaphoretic

  • Emenagogue

  • Uterotonic

  • Oxytocic



Black haw has been used to prevent miscarriages with it’s antispasmodic properties. This is an herb that could be helpful to clients who have painful contractions w/no cervical change and won’t allow the client to get sleep.  Allowing the uterus to relax and rest will allow the client to get rest in preparation for true labor.



  • “Due to possible teratogenic effects, blue cohosh is contraindicated in women wishing to conceive and in early pregnancy and lactation” Late pregnancy 

  • High blood pressure, or blood pressure on the higher end of normal

    • Blue cohosh has contains “N-methylcytisine, an alkaloid that is similar in action to nicotine in its ability to… elevate blood pressure” 

  • Maternal tachycardia 

    • Due to its association with tachycardia if overdose happens.

  • Any kind of FHT abnormalities


Plant Constituents: 

  • Alkaloids

    • Demonstrate nicotinic and muscarinic receptor activity

  • Saponins

    • Correlated with the uterine stimulatory activity

    • Allegedly associated with neonatal cardiac toxicity


System Affinities:

  • Nervine

  • Reproductive

  • Gastrointestinal

  • Cardiovascular

  • Musculoskeletal



warm, fast, toning, grounding, clearing



Safety is unclear during pregnancy due to association with maternal/fetal adverse effects. 


Personal Experience:

I used this tincture 3 x in 1 day and it brought relief to my menstrual cramps.




Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Healing Arts Press. Rochester, VT. pp 604-605.

Mills, S. & Bone, K. (2005). The essential guide to herbal safety. London, England: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone


Romm, A., & Upton, R. (2012). Blue cohosh root and rhizome. American Herbal Pharmacopoeia, 1-43. doi:10.1201/b10413-75


Upton, R. (2000). Black Haw Bark. American Herbal Pharmacopoeia.

Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)

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