Blue Cohosh sounds like it might be closely related to Black Cohosh, doesn’t it? Despite the similarities in their name, the two come from different families, yet they are both used for women’s health conditions.
In fact, blue cohosh was commonly referred to as “squaw root” because of its use by Native American woman as an aid for childbirth. Aside from that, this herb is also useful for premenstrual syndrome and menstrual pain.
Botanical Name and Family of Blue Cohosh
The botanical name for blue cohosh is Caulophyllum thalictroides. It belongs to the Berberidaceae or the Barberry family and has been referred to as blue ginseng, squaw root and papoose root.
What Is Blue Cohosh?
Blue cohosh is an herb that is native to the eastern parts of North America. Its name is derived from the Algonquin Indian word “cohosh,” which means rough, a reference to the rough quality of the roots.
The roasted seeds of this herb are often used as a substitute for coffee whereas the roots are used to prepare medicines. This herb was used for the treatment of a variety of conditions including uterine inflammation and heart failure. However, its primary use was for the induction of labor during childbirth.
Blue cohosh was even very popular among physicians and midwives during the 19th century and was an official drug in the United States Pharmacopeia until 1890.
Active Ingredients Found in Blue Cohosh
Blue cohosh contains alkaloids such as the following:
- Aporphine alkaloids
- Quinolizidine alkaloids
- Fatty acids
Health Benefits of Blue Cohosh
Native Americans and Europeans used blue cohosh as a contraceptive, abortive and uterine stimulant during labor and as an aid to start menstruation.
Blue cohosh was also used as a remedy for the following conditions:
- Muscle spasms
- Sore throat
- Uterine inflammation
- Joint pains
Research shows that this herb possesses valuable anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. It was widely used during the 19th century as an emmenagogue, antispasmodic and parturient and continues to be used for regulating menstrual cycles and inducing uterine contractions.
How to Use Blue Cohosh
Extracts of blue cohosh are available in capsule form in many natural food stores and stores specializing in herbal products. You can also purchase blue cohosh supplements online.
Since the dosage of this herbal supplement is different depending on different factors like weight and age, it is advised to be used only under medical supervision.
Side Effects of Blue Cohosh
Even though this herb proposes a variety of benefits that can relieve pain and other menstrual related issues, it can cause certain side effects if taken improperly.
Blue cohosh has been known to cause side effects such as stomach cramps, diarrhea, chest pain, high blood sugar and high blood pressure. It also causes birth defects when taken during pregnancy and, therefore, is not recommended for pregnant women.
Women with hormone-sensitive conditions such as uterine, ovarian, breast cancers or uterine fibroids must not take blue cohosh. As always, speak to your doctor before considering to use blue cohosh to make sure this herbal remedy would be beneficial for you.
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Xia YG, Li GY, Liang J, Yang BY, Lu SW, Kuang HX.Genus Caulophyllum: An Overview of Chemistry and Bioactivity. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2014: (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/684508