Black Cohosh

By | August 20, 2014

On One Hand: Proposed Uses

Blue cohosh is a virulent herb native to the Southern United States. It’s not related to the less toxic black cohosh, which is sometimes used in combination with blue cohosh. The tincture has been employed by midwives to stop uterine contractions early in pregnancy as well as to stimulate uterine contractions upon a woman’s due date.

On the Other: Dangerous Effects

Blue cohosh limits blood flow to the heart, and there have been reported incidents of pregnant women succumbing to heart failure during labor. According to, there’s a documented case of “profound heart failure in a child born to a mother who used blue cohosh to induce labor.” Taken in prescribed doses, blue cohosh has also been shown to cause liver and thyroid damage.

Bottom Line

Blue and black cohosh tincture should not be used during a pregnancy anytime before week 36, and then only if prescribed and monitored by a doctor or midwife, according to Since it is known to cause mild to strong uterine contractions, using it for the opposite effect–to stop contractions, as it’s sometimes prescribed for–is overwhelmingly not advised.


Health Library: Blue Cohosh.

Midwives Connection: Natural Tinctures.

Natural Cures For: Black Cohosh.

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I tried them all. Every natural remedy you can think of. Nothing worked. I am now into my 6th year of menopause and have just learned to live with it.

The last few weeks and days of pregnancy can be very uncomfortable. Many women find it difficult to sleep, eat, or even breathe in the latter part of the third trimester. By the time 40 weeks comes along, you may be ready for your pregnancy to conclude and the miracle of life to begin. Gentle labor induction methods can help if you and your baby are healthy and at term.

Nipple Stimulation

Stimulating your nipples will make your body release oxytocin, a natural form of the labor-inducing drug pitocin. Begin by gently massaging or rubbing one nipple at a time and stop once a contraction begins. It is a good idea to stop nipple stimulation completely once your contractions are three minutes apart.

Castor Oil

Midwives have used castor oil to induce labor for generations. It is believed that castor oil causes intestinal spasms that irritate the uterus and cause it to begin contracting. Drink 1 to 4 oz. of castor oil mixed with 6 oz. of any beverage, such as orange juice. This drink not going to taste good, so gulp it down quickly. Be careful, however: castor oil has a strong laxative effect, so you may experience a nasty bout of diarrhea along with your contractions.

Make Love

Make love with your partner. Sex may not be comfortable for you right now, or you may not be in the mood, but a man’s semen contains prostaglandins, hormone-like substances, that can cause contractions to begin.

Spicy Foods

Some people are convinced that spicy foods can help trigger labor, but there is no evidence to support this notion. It may not be a good idea to have a full stomach of food when labor does begin, because you may become nauseated and vomit.

Blue and Black Cohosh and Other Herbs

The herbs blue and black cohosh have both been used for labor induction. Black cohosh is thought to regulate contractions, while blue cohosh is a traditional means of making contractions to more regular and intense. Many practitioners believe that motherwort is a safer choice than blue cohosh. Others recommend rubbing evening primrose oil directly onto the cervix. Check with your doctor or midwife before ingesting any herbs or herbal preparations during your pregnancy.


Once your contractions have begun, the best way to get your baby to move into place and help your cervix thin out is to walk. The swinging of your hips can help your baby’s head to engage. Walking can also be helpful with pain management, so keep moving right up until active labor begins.


Dr. Spock: Natural Ways to Induce Labor

Just Mommies: Castor Oil to Induce Labor Using Herbs to Induce Labor

We did not find significant differences in side effects in the black cohosh and placebo groups. However, two previous reviews reported serious side effects including hepatic side effects (hepatotoxocity, hepatic failure, and hepatic enzyme ele-

Most common side effects: nausea, bloating, diarrhea or constipation. Do not use soy if you are allergic to it. Discuss soy use with your physician if you have a history allergy to black cohosh or other members of the Ranunculaceae (buttercup or crowfoot)

EICCAM Research Facts 8 Black cohosh extract unlikely to reduce hot flashes in women Black cohosh extract is probably not helpful for women suffering from hot flashes or other

Black cohosh is indigenous to the eastern U.S. and Canada, with a long and widely recognized medicinal tradition. Minimal side effects were noted when stan-dardized black cohosh extracts and estrogen-replacement therapy were taken at the same time.

Black cohosh has an effect similar to estrogen, the female hormone that regulates the menstrual cycle, without the side effects of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Declining estrogen levels are responsible for hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.

1 Black Cohosh – Actaea racemosa L. 1. Taxonomy Actaea racemosa L. Family: Ranunculaceae (buttercup family) Common names: Black cohosh, black snakeroot, tall bugbane, macrotys, battleweed,

: Black Cohosh is listed under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act as Endangered. All listed species are protected from killing, collecting,

INTRODUCED 1998 Manufacturers of Hypo-allergenic Nutritional Supplements Black Cohosh 2.5 What Is It? Black cohosh is well known for promoting comfort during

Black cohosh, known botanically as Cimicifuga racemosa (also as Actaea racemosa and Actea macrotys ), has been used by Native Ameri-cans and Europeans for gynecological conditions predating settlement of the New World. 1 Black cohosh was first listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia

Nutr Clin Care, Nov/Dec 2002–Vol 5, No. 6 Black Cohosh 285 from 34 to 14 (P 0.001), which indicates an im-provement in vasomotor symptoms. There was also