White Cohosh

Reviewed on 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

Actaea alba, Actaea pachypoda, Actaea rubra, Actée Blanche, Actée Pachypoda, Baneberry, Cohosh Blanco, Coralberry, Doll's Eye, Snakeberry, White Baneberry.


White cohosh is an herb. Despite the fact that all parts of the plant are poisonous, white cohosh is used to make medicine.

Don’t confuse white cohosh with black cohosh, used for symptoms of menopause; or with blue cohosh, an herb used to stimulate the uterus and relieve muscle spasms. White cohosh is also known as baneberry, but it should not be confused with European baneberry.

Women use white cohosh to stimulate menstruation and treat other female disorders, as well as ease childbirth.

White cohosh is also used for colds and cough, urinary tract disorders, itching, and stomach disorders.

Some people try white cohosh to revive those near death.

How does it work?

There isn't enough information available to know how white cohosh works.


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Uses & Effectiveness

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Stimulating menstruation (periods).
  • Treating female disorders.
  • Colds.
  • Coughs.
  • Stomach problems.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of white cohosh for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

White cohosh is UNSAFE. All parts of the plant are poisonous. It can cause stomach problems, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, headache, heart and blood circulation problems, and delirium.

Avoid skin contact with white cohosh; it can cause swelling and skin blisters.


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Special Precautions & Warnings

It is UNSAFE for anyone to use white cohosh, but people with the following conditions have extra reasons not to use it:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It’s UNSAFE to use white cohosh if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. All parts of the plant are poisonous.

Stomach or intestinal (gastrointestinal, GI) problems: White cohosh can irritate the GI tract and could make GI disorders worse.


The appropriate dose of white cohosh depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for white cohosh. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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Brinker F. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions. 2nd ed. Sandy, OR: Eclectic Medical Publications, 1998.

The Review of Natural Products by Facts and Comparisons. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Co., 1999.

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