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Using Black or Blue Cohosh to Induce Labor

Posts: 4466
9/26/06 10:44 A

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Every midwife/doctor is different. My midwife personally believes that babies come when they come and nature shouldn't be tampered with, be it herb or drug. However, high blood pressure is a different issue.

So either way, whatever you do should be monitored by someone. If your doctor says to just go home and take it b/c it won't hurt, I would opt to leave it alone. Obviously he doesn't realize the powerful effect of those herbs.

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Posts: 5468
9/25/06 11:28 P

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37 weeks on is term....if there were other issues it probably wasnt related to being born 3-1 weeks before the edd....

watch out with castor oil cocktail.....i was on the toilet all night....hehe


Chain mitchell Andersen 12/13/02

Logan matthew Andersen 10/26/04

Alyssa Marie Andersen born still 2/9/06

Kiera Storm Andersen 2/27/07 she shares her bday with daddy

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9/25/06 10:56 P

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I wouldnt use it if I was you unless you talked to your doctor first. it even says on the bottle not to be used by pregnant women. Besides that I was induced a week early and my son didnt have the hang of swallowing yet so he had a lot of trouble taking a bottle and he choked on it alot. Anytime you get induced early you run that risk. Another little girl I know was born two or three weeks early and had so much trouble digesting her food she had diareah for her whole first year. So yeah. Baby should come when baby is ready not mommy. I know its really hard to wait especially when your in pain and not feeling well but if you can avoid it dont induce!

Draven Alexander
January 13, 2006
8lbs 8.2oz
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M/C May 20, 2006

EDD July 3, 2007
Its a girl!!!

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9/25/06 2:12 A

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I thought about that last time but decided I would try raspberry leaf tea. Didn't work:) This time I'm going to do castor oil cocktail at 38 weeks because they are wanting to induce me around that time anyway for hypertension and I would rather get it going without the help of Piticin.

Eamon: February 15, 2000
Nolan: February 20, 2002
Lucian December 26, 2004
Baby Boy #4 Due December 23rd, 06 Being induced on December 15th
Boy: Wyatt Maximo Boatwright

Posts: 5468
9/24/06 12:58 P

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it was actually recomended to me by a midwife....

there are lots of other things to try as well....

however i have heard that the cohosh is really supposed to work, tis the reason for the warnings!


Chain mitchell Andersen 12/13/02

Logan matthew Andersen 10/26/04

Alyssa Marie Andersen born still 2/9/06

Kiera Storm Andersen 2/27/07 she shares her bday with daddy

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9/24/06 9:11 A

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BabyFit does not recommend that women ever attempt to induce labor unless under specific instructions by her doctor. Various methods to induce labor and preterm labor can be dangerous for mother and baby.

Please consult your doctor if you have concerns related to the timing of your child's birth.


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" There is nothing like a newborn baby to renew your spirit - and to (strengthen) your resolve to make the world a better place."

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9/24/06 7:55 A

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ok blue and black cohosh actually stimulate the uterus into contractions, its a checmical that they contain.. I agree with the previous poster, you need to talk to your care provider and make sure that they are ok with you trying this kind of "natural" inducers, the effect of this kind of herb can be very intense.. ok I have found some info on both herbs..
Black cohosh consists of the underground parts (rhizome and roots) of the showy North American forest plant Cimicifuga racemosa (L.) Nutt., family Ranunculaceae. The plant's common names are numerous and include black snakeroot, rattleweed, rattleroot, bugbane, bugwort, and squaw root (not to be confused with blue cohosh). The genus Cimicifuga contains twenty-three temperate climate species: six from North America, one in Europe, the remainder from temperate eastern Asia. Similar to black cohosh, several Asian species are traditionally used for gynecological conditions.

The medication was introduced into medicine by the American Indians, who valued it highly. They boiled the root in water and drank the resulting beverage for a variety of conditions ranging from rheumatism, diseases of women, and debility to sore throat. Black cohosh was subsequently used, especially by eclectic physicians, for all these conditions but particularly for so-called uterine difficulties to stimulate the menstrual flow. Black cohosh was one of the principal ingredients in Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable Compound. Herbalists recommend it for all of the aforementioned ailments and also as an astringent, diuretic, alterative, antidiarrheal, cough suppressant, diaphoretic, and other uses.

Scientific studies designed to identify specific physiological activities in the medication have not been numerous, and most have been carried out abroad. The long-suspected estrogenic effects, based on its use to stimulate menstruation, could not be verified in comprehensive experiments in mice reported in 1960. Subsequent experiments have shown that a methanol extract of black cohosh contains substances that bind to estrogen receptors of rat uteri; the extract also causes a selective reduction in luteinizing hormone level in ovariectomized rats. These results are interpreted to mean that black cohosh possesses some degree of estrogenic activity.

A steroidal triterpene derivative called actein, was found to lower blood pressure in rabbits and cats but not in dogs. It produced no hypotensive effects in either normal or hypertensive human beings, although some peripheral vasodilation was observed.

Modern experience with black cohosh extracts dates to the mid-1950s. In Germany, gynecologists concerned with finding an alternative to hormone-replacement therapy, which by that time was showing unwanted side effects in a large number of patients, reported successful clinical experience in the treatment of menopausal symptoms with a black cohosh extract. By 1962, at least fourteen clinical reports, although not controlled clinical trials in the modern sense, involving over 1,500 patients were published in German. Practitioners reported efficacy in premenopausal and menopausal symptoms including reduction in hot flashes and improvement of "depressive moods."

Since the 1980s, five clinical studies (although none with a double-blind design) have compared a black cohosh extract with placebo and/or estrogen replacement in the treatment of menopausal symptoms. An open, multicenter study with data on 629 patients reported favorable results (in 80 percent of patients) after six to eight weeks of treatment. Improvements included relief of neurovegetative complaints such as hot flashes, sweating, headache, vertigo, palpitation, and tinnitus. Side effects (unspecified) were reported in 7 percent of patients, but they did not result in discontinuing therapy.

A 1991 study confirmed an LH secretion inhibitory effect in both ovariectomized rats and in 110 menopausal women, demonstrating that the extract selectively suppresses luteinizing hormone secretion in menopausal women.

A recent Japanese study reported positive effects of two Asian species, C. heracleifolia and C. foetida, on serum calcium and phosphate levels plus bone mineral density in rats. They concluded that "...Cimicifugae rhizome has potential in the treatment of osteoporosis, particularly in menopausal women."

Black cohosh is prescribed in Europe for various conditions, including symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), dysmenorrheal, and menopause. Reported activities include an estrogen-like action, binding to estrogen receptors, and suppression of luteinizing hormone. Occasional stomach pain or intestinal discomfort has been reported. Studies on mutagenicity, teratogenicity, and carcinogenicity have proven negative, and a six-month study on chronic toxicity in rats at about ninety times the human intake failed to prove deleterious. Further studies on black cohosh are warranted.

Root, rhizome.

Gynecological uses - Black cohosh has long been used by Native Americans for female problems, for which reason it was also known as "squawroot." Black cohosh is used today for menstrual pain and problems where progesterone production is too high, and for menopausal symptoms, especially hot flashes, debility, and depression.
Inflammation - Black cohosh is useful for inflammatory arthritis, especially when it is associated with menopause, and it is also an effective remedy for rheumatic problems, including rheumatoid arthritis.
Sedative properties - The sedative action of black cohosh makes it valuable for treating a variety of conditions, including high blood pressure and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Black cohosh is also valuable for whooping cough and asthma.
Other medical uses - Osteoarthritis

The rhizome of this plant was used by Native Americans as a cure for rattlesnake bites (hence its common name, rattle root) and for menstrual and labor pain. The root was also chewed as a sedative and to alleviate depression. A tea made with the herb was sprinkled in rooms to prevent evil spirits from entering. In herbalism, the root is still used as a diuretic, a cough suppressant, and to reduce inflammation and rheumatic pain.
Cimic. is largely a women's remedy that acts on the nerves and muscles of the uterus. It is used for menstrual symptoms, such as congestion in the head before menstruation and heaviness and cramps in the small of the back during menstruation. This remedy is good for early miscarriage and it is also helpful for common complaints in pregnancy, such as nausea and vomiting, sleeplessness and shooting pain in the uterus. Postpartum depression and menopausal symptoms, such as fainting spells and hot flashes are also helped by Cimic.
Neck stiffness that causes headaches is helped by cimic., as well as emotional symptoms due to a hormonal imbalance, such as sighing, sadness, anxiety, and irritability.

Black cohosh is native to Canada and the eastern states of the US, growing as far south as Florida. Black cohosh prefers shady spots in woods and shrubby areas. The herb is now grown in Europe and can be found in the wild, having self-seeded from cultivated plants. Black cohosh is grown from seed, and the root is harvested in autumn.

Menopause herb - Research has confirmed the validity of traditional knowledge. The results of a German trial, published in 1995, revealed that black cohosh in combination with St. John's wort was 78% effective at treating hot flashes and other menopausal problems.
Estrogenic properties - Black cohosh has a well-established estrogenic action and is thought to reduce levels of pituitary luteinizing hormone, thereby decreasing the ovaries' production of progesterone.

Black cohosh contains triterpene glycosides, isoflavones, isoferulic acid, volatile oil, and tannins.

Black cohosh can be taken in several forms, including crude, dried root, or rhizome (300-2,000 mg per day) or as a solid, dry powdered extract (250 mg three times per day). Tinctures can be taken at 2-4 ml per day. Standardized extracts of the herb are available and contain 1 mg of deoxyacteine per tablet. The usual amount is 40 mg twice per day. Black cohosh can be taken for up to six months, and then it should be discontinued.

Black cohosh has an estrogen-like effect, and women who are pregnant or lactating should not use the herb. Large doses of this herb may cause abdominal pain, nausea, headaches, and dizziness. Women taking estrogen therapy should consult a physician before using black cohosh.

Gynecologically, in North America, it is thought that black cohosh balances estrogen by stabilizing it. In European herbalism it is thought to have an estrogenic action, which actively works to reduce progesterone and promote estrogen levels in the body. It is therefore used where there is a lack of estrogen and an excess of progesterone. In the musculoskeletal system it is used as an anti-inflammatory in arthritic conditions. Its sedative qualities have applications in other systems, for example, in lowering blood pressure, in reducing spasm and tension, and in the respiratory system

One of the oldest indigenous American plant medications is blue cohosh, otherwise known as papoose root or squaw root. Blue cohosh consists of the underground parts (roots and rhizomes) of Caulophyllum thalictroides (L.) Michx., a perennial herb, purple when young, that has a smooth stem, one to three feet in height, terminated by a panicle of yellowish green flowers. The mature plant is a peculiar bluish green color and bears dark blue fruits-hence, the name, blue cohosh. Blue cohosh is a member of the family Berberidaceae.

The genus Caulophyllum contains five species, two from eastern North America [C. thalictroides and C. giganteum (Farw.) Loconte & Blackwell] and three from northeast Asia.2The rhizome of Asian species, C. robustum Maxim., has been used as a folk medicine to treat menstrual disorders.

Blue cohosh was introduced into medicine in 1813 by Peter Smith, an "Indian herb doctor." Blue cohosh was said to be employed by the Indians for rheumatism, dropsy, colic, sore throat, cramp, hiccough, epilepsy, hysterics, inflammation of the uterus, etc. Subsequently, it gained a reputation as an antispasmodic, emmenagogue (menstrual flow stimulant), and parturifacient (inducer of labor), as well as a diuretic, diaphoretic, and expectorant. Modern herbals still recommend blue cohosh for various female conditions, especially as a uterine stimulant, inducer of menstruation, and antispasmodic.

Blue cohosh contains a number of alkaloids and glycosides, of which the alkaloid methylcytisine and the glycoside caulosaponin seem to contribute most of the physiological activity. Animal experiments have shown that the actions of methylcytisine resemble those of nicotine. The compound elevates blood pressure and stimulates both respiration and intestinal motility. It is only about 1/40 as toxic as nicotine. Blue cohosh's oxytocic (hastening childbirth) effects are apparently produced by the glycoside caulosaponin, a derivative of the triterpenoid saponin hederagenin. Caulosaponin constricts the coronary blood vessels, thus exerting a toxic effect on cardiac muscle, and causes intestinal spasms in small animals.

In view of the presence of such relatively potent principles in the medication, blue cohosh cannot be dismissed as either inactive or harmless. The case for, or against, using it as self-medication, particularly to stimulate uterine contractions or to induce menstruation, probably rests on the advisability of using any self-selected medication for such purposes. The safety of such treatment is by no means certain. .

The knotty, branching rhizome and roots of this native American plant were sought out by many Indian tribes. They harvested the underground parts in late fall and ground them into a powder, which they used as a remedy for rheumatism, colic, bronchitis, and menstrual cramps. But they especially prized blue cohosh as a parturient (an aid in childbirth). For a week or two before the expected date of delivery, pregnant women drank an infusion of the powdered roots in warm water to induce rapid and relatively painless labor. (It was not taken earlier in pregnancy, because it might have brought on a miscarriage.) Early settlers also used the roots as a parturient and dubbed the plant squawroot and papoose root.

The herbalists who gathered and prepared blue cohosh learned to treat it with caution, because they found that blue cohosh tends to irritate the skin and mucous membranes, especially when it is powdered.

Like raspberry leaves and black cohosh, blue cohosh has both stimulating and relaxing properties which facilitate childbirth. Blue cohosh produces contractions which are regular and effective, interspersed with a good relaxation period.

Its tonic properties improve sluggish labor pains and are most helpful when delay in childbirth is due to weakness, fatigue or lack of uterine power. Similarly, the relaxant effects of this plant prove useful when tension produces uterine irritability, with spasmodic pains, false labor pains and over-strong Braxton-Hicks contractions. Blue cohosh was a favorite remedy amongst Native American women for false pains and after-pains. They drank the tea regularly a few weeks before the birth was due, as a partus preparator, to ease and speed labor. Blue cohosh is used particularly to relax women in childbirth and ease the pain, but also to soothe restlessness, tension and pain during pregnancy. The antispasmodic action helps ensure that the uterus holds the growing baby, and so it prevents premature delivery. Its antispasmodic properties are also used for stomach and menstrual cramps. Blue cohosh has a good reputation for helping to prevent miscarriage, particularly when used with black haw or cramp bark. The plant acts as a relaxant and tonic to the nervous system.

Blue cohosh may be taken alone or in conjunction with other partus preparators, for a few weeks prior to the birth, three times daily. Note - never use in early pregnancy.

Root and rhizome.

Traditional woman's herb - "Cohosh" is an Algonquin name, and blue cohosh was a popular medicinal herb with a large number of Native American tribes. Blue cohosh was primarily considered a "woman's herb" helping to improve contractions during labor, rectify delayed or irregular menstruation, and alleviate heavy bleeding and pain during menstruation.
Other traditional uses - The root was taken by Native Americans as a contraceptive and was used by both sexes to treat genitourinary conditions.
Modem remedy - The European settlers in North America learned of blue cohosh's value from Native peoples, and the herb was included in the Pharmacopoeia of the United States until 1905. Current medicinal uses of blue cohosh are not radically different from its traditional uses. Blue cohosh is still considered an herb that is particularly suited to women and is chiefly employed as a uterine tonic, bringing relief from uterine and ovarian pain and helping to improve menstrual blood flow. Blue cohosh should not be taken during pregnancy since it is a uterine stimulant, but it is useful during labor.
Anti-inflammatory - Blue cohosh can reduce inflammation, and is sometimes used in treatments for arthritic and rheumatic condition.

The root of this plant was used as an herbal remedy by Native Americans to prevent long and painful labors and to quicken childbirth. The plant is still used in herbal medicine as a tonic and uterine stimulant. Caulophyllum was first introduced to homeopathy in 1875 by Dr. Hale, a well-known American homeopath.
Caulophyllum has two main uses in homeopathy: the first is for rheumatism that affects the small joints of the hands and feet with erratic, shooting cramping pain; the second is to help labor that does not progress properly, for example, when there is weak, irregular labor pain, or very painful but ineffectual contractions. It is also given for false labor pain.
This remedy can help prevent habitual miscarriages and to ease severe pain following childbirth and menstrual pain. Because it is a uterine stimulant it may stimulate menstruation in women suffering absent menstruation.

Blue cohosh grows wild in much of eastern North America, from Manitoba to Alabama, and prefers woodland valleys, north facing slopes, and damp banks. Blue cohosh is mainly gathered from the wild, but it can be cultivated, in which case it is propagated from seed sown when ripe or by root division in autumn. The root and rhizome are harvested in autumn.

Steroidal saponins - A poorly researched plant, blue cohosh deserves further investigation. Its consistent reputation as an herb for facilitating childbirth and for gynecological conditions maybe due in part to the steroidal saponins, which are known to stimulate the uterus.

Blue cohosh contains:
- Alkaloids (caulophylline, laburnine, rnagnoflorine)
- Steroidal saponins (caulosapogenin)
- Resin .

Edited by: PARTLYSBABE at: 9/24/2006 (07:57)

Hoping for a healthy new lil one and a smooth easy natural birth!
Posts: 16825
9/24/06 6:45 A

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This is really not safe to try on your own. Most midwives monitor if they give it to induce. Please talk to your care provider.

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Posts: 5468
9/24/06 1:10 A

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i bought the blue cohosh for my 2nd but i never used it....i had to be induced for pre eclampsia....i will defenitly use it this time though!


Chain mitchell Andersen 12/13/02

Logan matthew Andersen 10/26/04

Alyssa Marie Andersen born still 2/9/06

Kiera Storm Andersen 2/27/07 she shares her bday with daddy

Posts: 5
9/24/06 12:49 A

I was just wondering if any of you have tried these herbs to induce labor. I know a lot of people are against it. When I was pregnant with my second child, my doctor recommended it. It worked for me but my contractions would come hard for and hour and then stop for an hour. This went on and I dialated very slowly. Finally I reached 4cm and the doctor put me on pitocin to speed the day long process up. My body still did the in and out thing and I didn't have her for another day. Other than that there were no problems. Have any of you tried these? Do you think the wierd labor was caused by the herb? I'm due in 6 days and contimplating using them again. My third baby came early and her labor was natural. No in and out contractions. Please share your stories on these or any other natural induction methods.

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