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 Herbal Materia Medica: Blue Cohosh  
Caulophylum thalictroides


Names : Papoose Root, Squawroot

Habitat : USA

Collection : The roots and rhizome are collected in the autumn, as at the end of the growing season they are richest in natural chemicals.
Part Used : Root & Rhizome

Constituents :

  • Alkaloids, including the lupin-type alkaloid scaulophylline (= methylcytisine), anagyrine, baptifoline; and magnoflorine
  • Saponins known as "caulosaponin".
Actions : Uterine tonic, emmenagogue, anti-spasmodic, anti-rheumatic, diuretic.

Indications : An excellent uterine tonic that may be used in any situation where there is a weakness or loss of tone. It may be used at any time during pregnancy if there is a threat of miscarriage.Similarly, because of its anti-spasmodic action, it will ease false labour pains and dysmenorrhoea. However, when labor does ensue, the use of Blue Cohosh just before birth will help ensure an easy delivery. In all these cases it is a safe herb to use. As an emmenagogue it can be used to bring on adelayed or suppressed menstruation whilst ensuring that the pain that sometimes accompanies it is relieved. Blue Cohosh may be used in cases where an anti-spasmodic is needed such as in colic, asthma ornervous coughs. It has a reputation for easing rheumatic pain.

Priest & Priest tell us that it is a "gently diffusive stimulating relaxant, uterine vaso-dilator and anti-spasmodic in all spastic and irritable states. Indicated for a tonic conditions and for deficient contractions in parturition. Cerebrospinal tropho restorative." They give the following specific indications : metritis, endometriosis, ovaritis, dysmenorrhoea, urethritis, vaginitis, thrush, restlessness during pregnancy, menopausal pains anddiscomfort.

Ellingwood quotes Felter and Lloyd thus " Uterine pain, with fullness, weight and pain in the legs; fullness of tissues as if congested; debility of the nervous system with impaired muscular power; spasmodic muscular pains, articular pain, rheumatic pains of asthenic plethora, epigastric &umbilical colicky pains, dull frontal headaches; as an oxytocic; to relieve false pains and uterine irritability; sexual debility with excitability; spasmodic uterine contractions, dysmenorrhoea, irregular menstruation." In addition he recommends it for the following situations: chronic uterined isorders, amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, scarlet fever, to prolong gestation, to increase strength of contractions in labor, as a partus preparator, to prevent premature delivery, hysteria, ovarian irritation, bronchitis, pneumonitis & whooping cough.

King's says that "as a powerful emmenagogue it promotes delivery, menstruation, and dropsical discharges, " and that "it was employed by the Indians and their imitators for rheumatism, dropsy, colic, sore throat, cramp, hiccough, epilepsy, hysterics, inflammation of the uterus, etc. "King first employed Blue Cohosh for "its beneficial influence on abnormities of the mucous tissues, using it for aphthous stomatitis in decoction, alone or combined with Hydrastis. Blue Cohosh is reputed antispasmodic, emmenagogue, and parturifacient, besides being diuretic, diaphoretic, and expectorant. Its use as a parturient originated in the custom of the Indian squaws (note 19 th. usage, not mine! D.L.H.) of employing a decoction of the root for 2 or 3 weeks previous to labor to facilitate child-birth. There is no doubt but that Caulophyllum has a decided action upon the gravid uterus. During labor it relieves false pains and coordinates muscular contractions, at the same time increasing their power. Like Cimicifuga, it is a better oxytocic than ergot. Unlike the latter agent it stimulates normal contraction instead of inducing spasmodic uterine action. It is most valuable in those cases where delay is due to debility, fatigue, or lack of uterine nervous energy, and for deficient contractions where the tissues feel full, as if congested. As a partus praeparatorCaulophylum has enjoyed a well merited reputation. When used by delicate women, or those who experience prolonged and painful labors, for several weeks previous to confinement, it gives tone and vigor to all the parts engaged in the accouchement, facilitating its progress, and relieving much suffering. It is a good remedy for after pains, especially when spasmodic in character. Caulophylum acts as an antiabortive by relieving the irritation upon which the trouble depends. King states that for this purpose it is fully equal to Viburnum.

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 About The Author
David Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMHWhilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary wholeness and responsibility for it......more
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