Blue cohosh - Caulophyllum thalictroides (in the Berberidaceae or Barberry family)
Part used: Root.
Taste/smell: Bitter, slightly acrid, with a sweet aftertaste.
Tendencies: Cooling, drying.
Dosage: Decoction: 1 heaping teaspoon in a cup of water; or 1:5 dry plant liquid extract: 10-30 drops 1-4 times per day in a little water.
Mental picture and specific indications: The picture of blue cohosh is one of heavy, achy, spasmodic uterine pain with congestion and prolapsed lax tissues, pain in the thighs and lower back, spasmodic muscular pains, rheumatic pains and a dull frontal headache with thirst.
Use: (a) Diuretic, (b) Diaphoretic, (c) Nervine, (d) Emmenagogue, (e) Parturifacient, (f) Expectorant, (g) Female reproductive tract tonic.
Consider this herb when there is reproductive tract debility arising from chronic inflammatory conditions. It is both tonifying to atonic uterine tissue while it is also relaxing to spastic uterine muscles and is used for uterine atrophy, menstrual cramps, cervical varicose veins, amenorrhea, premature or profuse menstruation and atonic conditions. Blue cohosh is used to relieve false labor pains while increasing the strength of the contractions during actual labor. It decreases pain in childbirth and alleviates "after pains." It is indicated also in problems with the male reproductive tract, including orchitis and impotence.
Blue cohosh is beneficial for inflammation and congestion of a chronic nature, such as in arthritis. It is a cerebrospinal trophorestorative and has been used for epilepsy.
The constituents include the alkaloid, methyl-cytisine, and the glycosides, caulophyllosaponin and caulosaponin. The saponins have been found to be hormonally active.
Contraindications: Because blue cohosh can increase blood to the pelvis, it should be used cautiously in woman with heavy menstruation. In rat studies, it has inhibited ovulation. Do not use during pregnancy due to uterine stimulation. It may be used in the 9th month of pregnancy, under the guidance of a trained health care professional. Overdose may cause nausea, vomiting, headache, thirst, dilated pupils, muscle weakness, incoordination, constriction of coronary blood vessels, cardiovascular collapse and convulsions and is therefore contraindicated in angina or cardiac insufficiency.