Blue Cohosh: The Health Benefits and Side Effects

Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) may sound a lot like Black Cohosh but interestingly, they are not related at all; the two are from different families, yet can both treat women’s health conditions. As a matter of fact, blue cohosh was used by Native American women to ease childbirth. That’s not even all—the herb is also effective in alleviating premenstrual syndrome and menstrual cramps.

Blue cohosh is available in dietary supplement form and can help women improve muscle tone in the uterus.


The Health Benefits of Blue Cohosh

Since blue cohosh is believed to reduce muscle spasms, it’s commonly used in to soothe stomach cramps and menstrual cramps. In fact, blue cohosh can also help treat the health issues, including premenstrual syndrome, constipation, rheumatoid arthritis, colic, sore throat, and hiccups.

The other health benefits of blue cohosh, include promoting menstrual flow, increasing frequency of urination, stimulating blood circulation, as well as a laxative.

Currently, there isn’t enough research to support the aforementioned health benefits of blue cohosh. However, some studies suggest that the herb contains certain compounds that may reduce inflammation and help treat some inflammation-related health conditions.



Side Effects of Blue Cohosh

Although blue cohosh is used as an alternative medicine to support women’s health, there are also some concerns that it may have adverse effects.

Let’s take a look at some of them.

  • Pregnancy and Lactation: Blue cohosh is most likely not safe to take during pregnancy as certain chemicals in blue cohosh can result in birth defects. In fact, if the herb is taken late in pregnancy, it can lead to chronic heart problems for the baby and can also be toxic to the mother.
    However, some midwives make use of blue cohosh to ease childbirth because it makes the uterus to contract. But considering that it is a dangerous practice, it should be avoided. As a matter of fact, some studies show that using blue cohosh during pregnancy may cause some birth defects. Findings indicate that the consumption of blue cohosh during pregnancy and lactation may have side effects that could affect the physiological development of the baby.
  • Diabetes: Blue cohosh might worsen diabetes. Yes, it can increase blood sugar levels in some people who are diabetic.
  • Cardiovascular Issues: Blue cohosh may, in fact, worsen some heart-related health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart palpitations, and angina (chest pain). Blue cohosh may also cause blood vessels in the heart to contract and reduce oxygen flow to the heart.
  • Diarrhea: Blue cohosh might worsen the symptoms of diarrhea.
  • Blue cohosh may function like estrogen and could worsen hormone-sensitive health conditions such as ovarian cancer, breast cancer, uterine cancer, uterine fibroids, and endometriosis. People who suffer from any health condition that could be aggravated by an exposure to estrogen should avoid blue cohosh.

With the outlined side effects, it is, therefore, important to remember that supplements, especially dietary supplements have not be confirmed for safety and are largely unregulated.





  • Antidiabetes drugs or medications for diabetes interact with blue cohosh.
  • Blue cohosh may increase blood sugar levels. We all know that diabetes drugs help to lower blood sugar level. And by increasing blood sugar level, blue cohosh might also reduce the potency of diabetes medications. So, it is important to monitor your blood sugar levels always.
  • Keep in mind that antihypertensive drugs or medications for high blood pressure interact with blue cohosh.
  • Blue cohosh may increase blood pressure levels which could also reduce the effectiveness of medications taken for high blood pressure.
  • Remember that nicotine interacts with blue cohosh.
  • Blue cohosh is made of certain chemicals that act just like nicotine. So, using blue cohosh along with nicotine could increase the adverse effects of nicotine.


Options Aside from Blue Cohosh

There are several other natural substances that can help support women’s health. For instance, some studies suggest that soy may be effective for alleviating hot flashes in menopausal women, energize bones, and could reduce the risk of having breast cancer.

To alleviate menstrual cramps, you may use remedies such as ginger, omega-3 fatty acids, and dong quai (a herb used in preparing traditional Chinese medicine). Acupressure and massages can also help ease menstrual pain.

Additionally, you can consider the use of clary sage, essential oils of lavender, and rose in aromatherapy to help reduce menstrual cramps.



The Bottom Line

Evidently, blue cohosh has a number of benefits for women’s health but owing to the limited research and safety questions concerning the herb, blue cohosh isn’t exactly recommended for treating any condition. So, if you’re considering using the herb, it is best to consult with your doctor first.

This is because some reports have linked blue cohosh to heart failure, stroke, and other serious heart-related conditions. Owing to these findings, blue cohosh should be taken with serious caution and only under medical supervision, especially during pregnancy.