BLUE COHOSH - WOMAN'S HERB BUT NOT RECOMMENDED FOR USE: HISTORY OF HEALTH BENEFITS OF BLUE COHOSH
Blue cohosh is native to
North America, but is no relation to black cohosh (Cimicihiga racemosa). It is a member of the Berberidaceae family and so is related to the common barberry or rasout and to kashmal, the berberry, as well as to another North American native plant, the Oregon grape.
It is also called papoose root, as Native Americans used to drink an infusion of this two weeks before their babies were due in order to have an easier birth. The plant acts on the uterus and has been used to promote the menstrual flow and to regulate period. It has oestrogen-like effects and so should not be used by women who should not take the contraceptive pill.
The root is the main part used, whether fresh or dried, but this must be used only under the close supervision of a physician as it can cause many side effects. People with diabetes, heart problems, pregnant women and diarrhoea should not take this herb as a medication.
The seeds have been used roasted, as a coffee substitute, as dandelion root and chicory have been used. The flowers were used by Native American women to induce labour and menstruation. However these only bloom between the months of April and May.
The blue cohosh plant can grow to heights of three feet, and has either yellow-green or burgundy-purple flowers. These give way to blue-black berries with seeds ripening in September. Because of the berries similarity to blueberries, the plant is also known as blueberry root, and it has other names too, such as yellow or blue ginseng, and beech drops.
The medical establishment advises that this plant is unsafe to use, especially as there are safer herbs to help with female problems such as the Chaste tree, the small-flowered chaste tree, and black cohosh among many others.
It is believed that the saponin, caulosaponin is responsible for the plants action on the uterus, although it may be that the action is contributed to by other alkaloids present in the plant. Not very much research has been done into it.
In traditional medicine this plant has been used for the treatment of gout, arthritis and rheumatic pains as it is thought to have an anti-inflammatory action. The root has been used to get rid of intestinal worms, to promote sweat in fevers and as a diuretic, although, of course, there are safer alternatives to use for the same effects.
Basically the information here is for interest’s sake; it is not considered safe to use this herb.