Health benefits of Blue Cohosh

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Blue Cohosh Quick Facts
Name: Blue Cohosh
Scientific Name: Caulophyllum thalictroides
Origin Commonly found in northern Illinois, central Illinois and Shawnee Hills of southern Illinois.
Colors Initially green but bright blue at maturity
Shapes 1/3" across, globoid, glaucous, glabrous
The flowering plant Blue Cohosh belongs to the family Berberidaceae and species Caulophyllum. Other common names for Blue Cohosh are Caulophylle faux-pigamon, papoose-root, squaw-root, blue ginseng and yellow ginseng. This herb contains a stalk that possesses three branched leaves with various fruiting stalks. The base of leaflets resembles tulips and has distinct serrate flower tip. It bears fruits as berries that resemble blueberries due to the presence of bluish green foliage. The blossoms start to begin in early spring. It is commonly found in northern Illinois, central Illinois and Shawnee Hills of southern Illinois. It is uncommon in other areas of southern Illinois. Its habitats are bluffs, rich mesic woodlands and wooded slopes of large ravines. It is also found in hardwood forests of the United States. Firstly the root of Blue Cohosh is used by American Indians and later it was introduced in Native American tribes. It is usually known by renowned herbalists for its abortive and contraceptive properties. This herb is used by Native Americans to start labor or increase contractions. It could be used as a tincture or in the form of capsule or tea. This herbal plant is used to stimulate the function of uterus and promotes pain for the expecting mothers. It is used to promote delay menstruation and soothes painful muscle spasms.


Mostly used by Native Americans, the word cohosh was derived from Algonquin name. Potawatomi, Okibwe, Meskawi, Menomini tribes used it for treating menstrual cramps, promote labor contractions and restrain excessive menstruation. From 19th century, it was used as parturient, emenagogue and antispasmodic in Eclectic medicine and is continuously used for promoting uterine contractions and regulates menstrual cycle.


Blue cohosh is a perennial wildflower which grows about 1-3′ high. It has rhizomatous and fibrous root system. It has light green to pale purple central stem that is terete, erect, glabrous which is often glaucous.


The non-flowering plant bears single compound leaf whereas the flowering plant bears a couple compound leaves at the apex of stem. A flowering plant has lower compound leaf that is found at the middle of the central stem that could be divided into 3 compound leaflets. Every leaflet is composed of 9 subleaflets. The leaflets are ascending, glabrous, long and light green in color. The subleaflets measuges about ¾-2″ across (wide) and 1-3″ long and is broadly ovate-oblong to obovate-oblong with blunt tips.


Each flower measures 1/3″ across that comprises of insignificant petals, 6 petaloid sepals, 6 stamens with an ovoid ovary. The sepals are oblanceolate which might be greenish brown, greenish yellow or greenish purple that depends on local ecotype. From 3 to 4 green bractlets could be found underneath of each flower. The flower blooms from mid to late spring before the leaves are developed fully. Then the flowers are followed by the berry that is like seeds.


Seeds are globoid in shape, glacous and glabrous that measures about 1/3″ across. Firslty, the seeds are green but later on turns bright blue when it becomes mature. The seed coat consists of carbohydrates and is fleshy.

Traditional uses

  • It is used to facilitate child birth in North American Indian tribes.
  • It is a treatment for gynaecological conditions.
  • This herb is used to eliminate intestinal worms and also lowers inflammation.
  • The root possesses antispasmodic, anthelmintic, diuretic, diaphoretic, oxytocic, emenagogue and sedative properties.
  • Drink an infusion made with root and warm water for two weeks to ease birth.
  • Internally, the plant is used to treat rheumatism, pelvic inflammatory disease and gout.
  • The root is used as an aid for menstrual disorders.
  • It is useful for uterine inflammation, hysteria and epilepsy.
  • It stops uterine bleeding after delivery.
  • It is used as a contraceptive by native Americans.


  • It is not supposed to be used during pregnancy.
  • Its excessive use should be avoided because it might cause nicotine poisoning and high blood pressure.
  • Its overdose might cause vomiting, nausea and narrowing of blood vessels.
  • It should not be used by the people having heart diseases and hypertension.
  • It might irritate mucous membranes and cause contact dermatitis.
  • The people who are allergic to Blue cohosh should not use it.
  • Side effects such as irritation of gastrointestinal system, chest pain, cramps, severe diarrhea, high blood pressure and high blood glucose levels might be experienced.

How to Eat         

  • The seeds are roasted and used as a substitute for coffee.






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