Caulophyllum & Pregnancy

Words: Dr Miranda CASTRO

Caulophyllum [or, blue cohosh] has long been used by Native Americans as a birthing herb. Hence, the two of its common names: squaw, or papoose root. Caulophyllum’s special gift is in working with women whose tissues have lost their tone, especially the tissues of the uterus. Its reputation for establishing effective contractions in labour is deserved. It works like a dream… when it is called for.

Some homeopathic books advise pregnant women to take Caulophyllum [in potency] during the last weeks, or even months before delivery, to prepare them for an easy labour. Taken in pregnancy, Caulophyllum can pave the way for a trouble-free childbirth if it is indicated, but if it is taken routinely and unnecessarily it can also cause some difficulties in labour. If taken repeatedly when not indicated, proving symptoms may develop.

Caulophyllum can be taken to prepare women for easier births, but is primarily indicated for sedentary women with poor muscle tone, or women who have a history of gynaecological problems, or difficult births. Women who are fit, who have healthy muscle tone, should avoid them, or take them only on the instruction of an experienced herbalist, or homeopath.

A Woman’s Remedy 

Caulophyllum is a beautiful homeopathic remedy for women in their childbearing years — for certain conditions during pregnancy, labour, or after birth. In late pregnancy, Caulophyllum is useful for annoying Braxton Hicks contractions — where one feels like the muscles across their belly are tightening. It is, in long drawn out labour, needed for extremely painful, ineffective contractions which do not ‘work.’ In other words, where the cervix does not dilate. The pains, in Caulophylum, ‘fly about’ the abdomen, from one place to another. Sometimes, the labour slows down and even stops altogether. After labour the uterus doesn’t contract properly and becomes prolapsed, or the placenta is not expelled easily. Exhaustion, trembling, thirst and chilliness accompany the above complaints. Strangely, the chilliness is no better for being covered.

So, what about the use of Caulophyllum at the end of a pregnancy to bring on labour? Since a normal pregnancy can range from 37-42 weeks, it is almost impossible to predict a baby’s birthday accurately. The question of overdue babies is a vexed one, because come the ninth month [by dates] doctors and midwives get itchy fingers and want that baby out. In many Western countries, the rise of inductions and Caesareans confirms a trend towards births that are managed by medical professionals rather than births where nature is encouraged to take its course. I am not talking of the wonderful life-saving work that medics are able to offer women whose births have become complicated. I am simply questioning the wisdom of unnecessary interventions that appear to be designed for the convenience of doctors and hospitals.

A colleague was called recently by a pregnant woman who had passed her due date and was being threatened with an induced labour. She asked whether she could take Caulophyllum. The homeopath hesitated to recommend a homeopathic remedy, since she was healthy and happy in all other respects. She had tried vigorous exercise, but it hadn’t worked. She jumped at the suggestion to have a spicy meal. She went to a restaurant nearby whose specialty of the house [quite coincidentally] was a salad reputed to bring on labour in women who are ready to deliver. She ate the salad and four hours later went into labour. Six hours later a beautiful baby greeted her spicy parents.

Had the spicy dinner not worked, a few doses of Caulophyllum might have been called for, as it can help to start labour that is late [according to dates], but ready, i.e., the baby is ready to come out and the mother’s body is correspondingly ready to deliver.

I suggest women take Caulophyllum in the 30th potency [30C], three times daily for up to two days, and repeat it 3-7 days later, if the labour still has not begun. There are other homeopathic medicines that may be indicated at this stage in a pregnancy when labour is delayed, but they really do need to be determined by a professional homeopath who has the skill to work out the correct remedy.

Guidelines For Women During Pregnancy  

  • Only treat yourself with homeopathic remedies for minor complaints that are recent, e., mild morning sickness, or constipation, cold or flu, cramps, tiredness, heartburn, or insomnia and so on. Chronic complaints [those that are recurring and/or deep-seated] should always be treated by a professional homeopath
  • Use low potencies [6X, 6C, 12X and 12C] as they are nice and gentle and, therefore, safe for you and your baby
  • Take the remedy for a short period of time and monitor the results carefully. The right remedy will work fairly quickly in an acute situation:  6X, take 3-4 times a day, for up to a week; 6C and 12X, take 2-3 times daily, for up to five days; 12C, take once, or twice, daily for up to three days
  • Keep good notes. This is an important habit to develop with homeopathy and self-prescribing. You will learn about yourself, your unique patterns of illness as well as which homeopathic remedies are helpful for you. It can be frustrating to be faced with a similar flu to the one you had two years ago and, for the life of you, you cannot remember which remedy you took, and it worked like a dream. You will need to record the name of the remedy and your reasons for choosing it, the potency as well as how long you took it — and, don’t forget to make a note of how [and, if] it works
  • Monitor the effects of your remedy carefully, and if it has definitely helped, you can repeat it if your symptoms return — but, only if it helps
  • If your symptoms keep returning, the homeopathic remedy is only working superficially and you will need to seek the advice of a professional homeopath
  • Always check in with your healthcare provider to make sure your symptoms are not serious, especially if they are persistent, as some seemingly innocuous symptoms may be indications of a more serious situation developing. For example, itching in late pregnancy can be a sign of a more serious liver disorder [obstetric cholestasis] which can lead to premature labour, stillbirth and an increased risk of haemorrhage after delivery.

My point is this: we need to question unnecessary medications, or procedures, in pregnancy and childbirth, whether they are allopathic, herbal, or homeopathic. This is a perfect time to use common sense and ‘kitchen cupboard/closet’ solutions that are known to be gentle and effective, rather than take anything that could have side-effects.

A Word Of Caution 

Caulophyllum can pave the way for a trouble-free childbirth, yes, if it is indicated, but if taken routinely, it may cause an unpleasantly difficult labour. This is unusual, but not impossible. If a homeopathic remedy is taken repeatedly when it is not needed, ‘proving’ of symptoms may develop — that is, the symptoms that the homeopathic medicine is capable of curing in a person who is experiencing them [For example, it is not unusual for small babies who are routinely given chamomile tea at bedtime to become irritable and sleepless].

Agreed that homeopathic remedies are non-toxic, and they are safe, especially in pregnancy, yet it’s sensible not to take something for every little complaint. Ask someone who knows, a mother, or midwife, to come up with ideas before turning to medical alternatives.

It makes sense to avoid unnecessary medications at any time in one’s life, not just during pregnancy. If you use homeopathic remedies indiscriminately and with scant attention to the rules, you may end up confused and disillusioned. Use them wisely and sensibly, and you will make a lasting relationship with this wonderful source of healing.

Dr MIRANDA CASTRO, a homeopath of international repute, who retired from active clinical practice, in 2020, researched classical homeopathy for 40 years. A Fellow of the Society of Homeopaths [UK] and past president of the North American Society of Homeopaths [NASH], she was a much-sought-after speaker, teaching on both sides of the Atlantic for over 30 years+. A prolific writer, Dr Castro has written numerous books and papers for the professional homeopath, besides hundreds of articles for the homeopathic home prescriber. She lives in Gainesville, Florida, US.

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