Goldenseal, (Hydrastis canadensis), is a perennial herb in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae, and is one of the most popular herbs sold on the American market. It has recently gained a reputation as a herbal antibiotic and immune system enhancer.

Traditional Uses of Goldenseal

American Indians used Goldenseal as a medication for inflammatory internal conditions such as respiratory, digestive and genito-urinary tract inflammation induced by allergy or infection. The Cherokee used the roots as a wash for local inflammations, a decoction for general debility, dyspepsia, and to improve appetite.

The Iroquois used a decoction of the root for whooping cough, diarrhoea, liver disease, fever, sour stomach, flatulence, pneumonia, and with whiskey for heart trouble. They also prepared a compound infusion with other roots for use as drops in the treatment of earache and as a wash for sore eyes.

History of Goldenseal Use

It was not until 1798 that the medicinal virtues of Goldenseal began to attract attention in the Western World. From then on its reputation as a powerful healing herb spread, both in England and America, and by about 1850 it had become an important article of commerce.

Health Benefits of Goldenseal

Goldenseal was popularly used for a variety of ailments, such as: a bitter stomach digestive to help stimulate digestion and improve appetite including to help treat anorexia nervosa, to treat skin inflammations, and infections of the eyes such as conjunctivitis.

Goldenseal is used for; inflammation of the mucous membranes of the throat and digestive system, the treatment of peptic ulcers, gastritis, dyspepsia and colitis, have a toning effect on the whole body, for treatment of catarrh-related conditions and inflammations of the upper respiratory tract.

Goldenseal may help with allergic rhinitis, hay fever, laryngitis, hepatitis, cystitis and alcoholic liver disease.

Antibiotic, Anti-inflammatory and Astringent Properties of Goldenseal

Goldenseal has numerous uses that are attributed to its antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. It soothes irritated mucus membranes aiding the eyes, ears, nose and throat.

Taken at the first signs of respiratory problems, colds or flu, Goldenseal helps can help to prevent further symptoms from developing. It has also been used to help reduce fevers, and relieve congestion and excess mucous.

Goldenseal Increases Bile Flow and Digestive Enzymes

Goldenseal cleanses and promotes healthy glandular functions by increasing bile flow and digestive enzymes, therefore regulating healthy liver and spleen functions. It can relieve constipation and may also be used to treat infections of the bladder and intestines as well.

Astringent Properties of Goldenseal

Goldenseal has proven its value in cases of diarrhoea and hemorrhoids. Its astringent properties have also been employed in cases of excessive menstruation and internal bleeding.

Goldenseal for Skin Conditions

Externally, a wash can be prepared to treat skin conditions such as eczema and ringworm, as well as wounds and badly healing sores, or used as drops in cases of earache and conjunctivitis. The decoction is also said to be effective as a douche to treat trichomonas and thrush.

The application of a paste or poultice containing goldenseal root is sometimes recommended for boils, abscesses and carbuncles on the grounds that Goldenseal helps to kill bacteria and reduce inflammation.

Goldenseal to Treat Mouth Issues

As a gargle, Goldenseal can be employed in cases of gum infections and sore throats.

Active Ingredients in Goldenseal

Goldenseal contains calcium, iron, manganese, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B-complex and other nutrients and minerals. The roots and rhizomes of Goldenseal contain many isoquinoline alkaloids, including hydrastine, berberine, canadine, canadaline, and l-hydrastine as well as traces of essential oil, fatty oil and resin. It is believed that the high content of these alkaloids gives its antibiotic, anti-infection and immune stimulating qualities.

In particular it is the alkaloid berberine that is most likely responsible for Goldenseal’s effectiveness against bacteria, protozoa, fungi, Streptococci and it also promotes easier removal of the bacteria by inhibiting their ability to adhere to tissue surfaces.

Berberine is also anti-fungal and strongly anti-diarrheal. It aids against the infection of mucous membranes such as the lining of the oral cavity, throat, sinus, bronchial, genito-urinary tract and gastrointestinal tract.

Goldenseal Clinical Studies

Clinical studies have shown that Goldenseal is effective in the treatment of diarrhoea caused by E. coli (traveller’s diarrhoea), Shigella dysenteriae (shigellosis), salmonella paratyphi (food poisoning), giardia lamblia (giardiasis), and vibrio cholerae (cholera).

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Goldenseal Herb Notes / Side Effects

Goldenseal stimulates contraction of the uterus and therefore should be avoided during pregnancy.

Do not use goldenseal without consulting a physician if you have; heart disease, diabetes, glaucoma, a stroke or high blood pressure.

Caution is advised for high doses, which can occasionally interfere with B vitamin metabolism.

Latin Names

Hydrastis canadensis

Common Names

Eye Root, Goldenseal, Ground Raspberry, Indian Dye, Indian Turmeric, Jaundice Root, Orange Root, Yellow Puccoon, Yellow Root

Properties of Goldenseal

Alterative, antibiotic, anti-catarrhal, anti-infective, anti-inflammatory, anti-malarial, anti-pyretic, anti-septic, astringent, bitter, hemostatic, immune-stimulating, laxative (mild), muscular stimulant, oxytocic, strong digestive stimulant, tonic to the digestive tract.

Goldenseal is Indicated for:

Abscesses, aiding digestion, allergic rhinitis, anorexia nervosa, bladder and intestine infections, boils, candida albicans, carbuncles, cleansing and promoting healthy glandular functions, conjunctivitis, diarrhoea, earache, eczema, excessive menstruation, flatulence, fever, gum infections, haemorrhoids, hayfever, hepatitis, internal bleeding, laryngitis, liver disease, pharyngitis, pneumonia, preventing cold and flu, reducing fevers, regulating healthy liver and spleen functions, relieving constipation, relive congestion and excess mucous, ringworm, snoring (caused by nasal congestion), soothing irritated mucus membranes (eyes, ears, nose and throat), sores, sour stomach, thrush, trichomonas, ulcers (duodenal, gastric, peptic), whooping cough, wounds.

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