Is Cohosh Safe To Induce Labour?


Cohosh is an age-old natural way to induce post-term labour. It is a much-debated product. It is an alternative method suggested by herbalists and not prescribed by mainstream doctors. Here we will discuss the pros and cons of using Cohosh.

One must also remember that it is not at all wise to induce labour without doctor’s advice. It can be very unsafe for both mother and baby. So, please consult your doctor before using Cohosh. Moreover, no herbal supplements to induce labour are safe to use on your own at home. Please take cohosh only under professional supervision.

What is Cohosh?

Cohosh is a plant with medicinal properties. It was initially grown in native America. It was used as a herbal remedy for menstrual cramps, arthritis, rheumatism, menopause problems, indigestion, depression, etc., since then. Now, Cohosh is available worldwide.

Cohosh is used in two forms during labour: Black cohosh to induce labour and blue cohosh to induce labour. Black cohosh and blue cohosh are two separate plants. They can be taken separately or together. Some studies suggest that combining them enhances their anti-spasmodic abilities. They are available as tinctures, capsules or as tea.

Blue Cohosh

Blue cohosh, also called papoose root, induces labour without increasing contractions because it is antispasmodic. Hence it is also used to manage other gynaecological problems. It soothes the uterus during painful labour contractions. It can also control false labour/vigorous Braxton Hicks contractions. During birth, it makes the uterine contractions more coordinated.


Black Cohosh

Black cohosh is a buttercup or snakeroot. It helps open up the cervix during childbirth and to manage menopause symptoms. It is said to have effects similar to the primary sex hormone estrogen, though there is no conclusive evidence of this.

When to Use Cohosh for Labour Induction?

Cohosh can be used to induce labour from 37 to 41 gestation weeks. It should never be taken before that because it can cause miscarriage. Cohosh is used only as an effective option when the mother has weak/irregular contractions because they help reinforce and normalize uterine contractions. They also help labour progress at a natural pace. So, you can take it to ease labour pangs. They are ideal if you prefer natural remedies.

How to Use Cohosh for Pregnancy Induction

To make cohosh safe and effective during labour follow the steps below:

  • Check with your doctor before you start cohosh.
  • If your doctor gives a go, then cohosh is best taken in the morning.
  • Sleep well the night before you take it.
  • Next morning mix the recommended dosage (which we have mentioned below) with warm water/tea and drink it.
  • Keep making a fresh mixture with the same dosage.
  • In the first attempt take it only two times a day.
  • In later doses repeat the drink every hour for five hours.
  • Keep doing some light activity like walking while you take it.
  • Take a light lunch.
  • Start taking the drink again every hour till dinner.
  • If contractions do not begin, stop taking the tincture.
  • Repeat cohosh after 3-4 days.

What is the Recommended Dosage of Cohosh?

Taking anything in higher doses can be harmful. Please consult your doctor about the correct dosage of cohosh because every case and everyone’s physiology are different.


Typically, the initial dosage should be restricted to 5 drops mixed with tea/warm water. It is better not to take the capsule. But just in case you do, then take them only three times a day initially. Increase the dose gradually. Also ensure that tablets do not contain more than the safe, recommended dose of cohosh, i.e, 40 mg black cohosh to induce labour.

Studies suggest that there is no proven dose for blue cohosh. In a fluid form, 0.5-1.0 millilitre (1:1 in 70% alcohol) three times daily has been used for pregnancy. During delivery, you can use only 15 drops of black cohosh under your tongue every hour to help induce labour. Please check with your doctor before you do any of this.

Safety Tips while Using Cohosh for Inducing Labour

Here are some safety tips to remember before using cohosh.

  1. Most complications occur due to a cohosh overdose. Please follow the guidelines for dosage strictly.
  2. Do not take black cohosh if you have anaemia or blood clotting problems. This is because cohosh causes blood thinning that can lead to excessive bleeding during delivery.
  3. Those who have aspirin intolerance should not take black cohosh because they share an element called ‘salicylic acid’.
  4. Patients with uterine fibroids or breast cancer should not take black cohosh because it induces hormonal changes that may have adverse effects.
  5. Do not take cohosh if you have liver problems.
  6. Do not take cohosh for a long time.

Side Effects of Using Cohosh to Induce Labour

Problems have apparently mostly occurred due to overdose:

  • There have been reports of concerns that blue cohosh can cause heart ailments in babies. There has been no mass evidence of this.
  • Excessive bleeding and postpartum haemorrhage have been reported in some cases.
  • Reportedly overdose of black cohosh can induce excessive uterine contractions, which may lead the black cohosh to cause pregnancy termination.
  • The combination of black and blue cohosh overdose has been associated with neurological problems in the baby.
  • Other milder side effects: indigestion, weight gain, vomiting, low blood pressure, headache and nausea.
  • Other more severe side effects: liver damage, seizures, visual problems and irregular heartbeats.

This article gives you both the benefits and risks of cohosh. However, this is only for your information and not to come to a conclusion about using it. Please do not use cohosh without asking your doctor.

Also Read:

Tips on How to Prepare for Labour & Childbirth
Useful Tips for Easy Labour and Normal Delivery
Labour and Birthing Positions to Try during Delivery