Caulophyllum thalictroides, Blue Cohosh

Caulophyllum thalictroides, Blue Cohosh. Plants with purple flowers are now referred to Caulophyllum giganteum. The root is held in esteem for use in menstrual disorders and an aid in labor. The root extracts have estrogenic activity, are antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory. An alkaloid in the root, methylcytistine, has similar activity to nicotine, increasing blood pressure, stimulating the small intestine and respiration, and producing hyperglycemia. The compound is only about 1/40 as toxic as nicotine. Glycosides, including caulosaponin and caulophyllosaponin, are believed responsible for uterine stimulant activity. There is no doubt that blue cohosh is a powerful herb, best used in the hands of a knowledgeable practitioner. It should be avoided during pregnancy except under medical advice. Generally, it is used by practitioners only after labor has begun. This herb should be used with caution.

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