Pharmacopia Name: Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
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
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
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.