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Pharmacopia Name: Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)

Goldenseal History

Goldenseal has been used extensivly by Native American Indians, who introduced Goldenseal to European settlers. Goldenseal was so popular as an ingredient in many patent medicines, it was harvested to near extinction. Goldenseal has traditionally been used to treat a host of ailments, including menstrual pain, minor sciatica, stomach problems and muscler pain. The active ingredients in Goldenseal are the alkaloids hydrastine and berberine which can kill many types of viral and bacterial infections.

Goldenseal (Hydrastis candensis) has been touted as a panacea for nearly everything from eye infections to hemorrhoids. One of the best-selling herbs in history, over-harvesting and deforestation also play a role in making this herb one of the most expensive and endangered. By the turn of the 20th century, more than 300,000 pounds of goldenseal root were harvested annually.

Goldenseal Supplements

Goldenseal as a supplement may produce benefits in the following: antihemmorhagic, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, bile stimulant, common cold, menstrual symptoms, muscle pains. Goldenseal works wonders in combination with Echinacea particularly at the onset of cold and flu symptoms, especially coughs and sore throats. As a dilute infusion, Goldenseal can be used as an eyewash and as a mouthwash for gum disease, and canker sores. Goldenseal is also an effective wash or douche for yeast infections. External applications of Goldenseal have been used in the treatment of skin disorders such as psoriasis, eczema, athlete's foot, herpes, and ringworm.

Goldenseal As a Herbal Medicine

Goldenseal was cited in both the British Pharmacopoeia and U.S. Pharmacopoeia in 1860. Goldenseal appeared often in the mecical and popular literature of both the 17th and 18th centuries. In his book "Medical Flora", writer R. Rafinesque wrote about Native American Indian use of goldenseal as a treatment for urinary infections. Rafinesque was the first person to identify and name hydrastine, one of the major alkaloids found in goldenseal .

Goldenseal's therapeutic action is caused by two alkaloids, hydrastine and berberine, berberine being responsible for the vibrant yellow color of the goldenseal root. Hydrastine constricts blood vessels and lowers blood sugar, and both berberine and hydrastine have antibacterial properites. Some report that it has sedative properties as well.

Anecdotal evidence of goldenseal's effectiveness in treating colds are numerous. In small doses, and in combination with echinacea, many people have had success treating their common cold with goldenseal.

Goldenseal Side Effects and Warnings

Goldenseal is a potent herb plant and must be used with care. Do not take Goldenseal on a daily basis for more than a week at a time. Eating Goldenseal as a fresh plant can cause inflammation of the mucous tissue In high doses, goldenseal can irritate the skin, mouth, throat, and vagina. If any of these develop, stop taking Golden seal immediately. Goldenseal may cause nausea and diarrhea. If any of these develop, stop taking it immediately. Do not use Goldenseal during pregnancy; it may stimulate the uterus. Do not use goldenseal without consulting a physician if you have had heart disease, diabetes, glaucoma, a stroke, or high blood pressure. It stimulates the heart muscle, and the result is increased blood pressure. Do not give golden seal to children under two. Start with small doses of Goldenseal for older children and adults High doses of Goldenseal may interfere with vitamin B metabolism. Golden Seal should not be used by individuals with hypoglycem.


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