Health Guide

Blue cohosh

What is it?

Blue Cohosh is an herbal medicine used for missing menstrual periods, painful periods, and historically for false or early labor (birth) pains.

Other names for Blue Cohosh include: Caulophylum, Papoose Root, Blue Ginseng, Yellow Ginseng, Blueberry Root, and Squaw Root.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breast feeding
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease


Talk with your caregiver about how much Blue Cohosh you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking Blue Cohosh. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.

Drug and Food Interactions:

Do not take Blue Cohosh without talking to your doctor first if you are taking:

  • Heart disease medicines (examples: Lanoxin(R) digoxin, Cardizem(R) Dilacor(R) diltiazem, Calan(R) Isoptin(R) verapamil) (2)


  • Before taking Blue Cohosh, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breast feeding
  • Do not take Blue Cohosh if you have heart disease (7)
  • Children have been poisoned from the bright blue bitter tasting seeds (4)
  • Children should not take Blue Cohosh (4)
  • The berries of the plant are toxic and not used as medicine (5)

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it.

  • Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest
  • Chest pain
  • Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Call your doctor if your blood pressure increases (2)


1. Anon: British Herbal Pharmacopoeia. British Herbal Medicine Association, Keighley, UK; 1983.

2. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD: In Herbal Medicines, A Guide For Health-care professionals. Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, UK; 1996.

3. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R et al(eds): American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL; 1997.

4. Duke JA. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL; 1985.

5. Tyler VE: The Honest Herbal. George Stickley Co, Philadelphia, PA; 1982.

6. Betz JM, Andrzejewski D, Troy A et al: Gas chromatographic determinations of toxic quinolizidine alkaloids in blue cohosh Caulophyllum thalictroides (L.) Michx. Phytochem Anal 1998; 9:232-236.

7. Jones TK & Lawson BM: Profound neonatal congestive heart failure caused by maternal consumption of blue cohosh herbal medication. J Pediatr 1998; 132(3 pt 1): 550-552.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites.

All rights reserved