Medical Definition of Blue cohosh

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Blue cohosh: (Caulophyllum thalictroides). A tall North American perennial plant with large blue berries. Blue cohosh is sold as an herbal dietary supplement that can induce labor. Blue cohosh contains the glycosides caulosaponin and caulophyllosaponin, which cause uterine contraction and constriction of the coronary arteries in experimental animals. There is considerable concern about the medical safety of blue cohosh. Newborn babies have been reported who have had a heart attack or stroke after the mother took blue cohosh to induce labor.

Blue cohosh was an American Indian remedy. It was principally used by the squaws as an agent to facilitate childbirth. It was therefore known as squawroot or pappoose root. It is also called blueberry root.

Reviewed on 9/7/2018

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