Know Your Herb: Blue Cohosh

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Ever wonder what the herb blue cohosh is used for? Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) is also called blue ginseng, squawroot or papoose root. It’s used as a women’s herb to help ease childbirth, to relieve menstrual cramps and to help treat endometriosis and cervical dysplasia. It has also been used to treat arthritis, coughs, diabetes, tinnitus, dropsy, neuralgia, malaria, yellow fever and more. Pioneer physicians liked this herb so much they listed it as an official medicine in the U.S. Pharmacopeia. While blue cohosh has many benefits, precautions need to be taken when using blue cohosh.

The recommended dose of blue cohosh is 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of tincture at a time, one to four times a day. If you are using blue cohosh it should not be used for longer than 4 to 6 months. The alkaloids in blue cohosh may increase blood pressure in people that take this herb for longer than 6 months.

If you are taking blue cohosh there are side effects. Large doses may irritate the throat and cause headaches and elevated blood pressure. The plant’s blue berries should not be eaten because they could be toxic.

*Statements herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and are not intended to treat or diagnose any disease or health condition. It is also recommended that patients check with their doctors before taking herbs, to ensure that there are no contraindications with prescription medications. 

Photo by H. Zell/Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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