The medicinal herb Goldenseal as an alternative herbal remedy – Goldenseal is a plant that grows wild in parts of the United States but has become endangered by over harvesting. With
What Goldenseal Is Used For
Historically, Native Americans have used goldenseal for various health conditions such as skin diseases, ulcers, and gonorrhea.
- Now, goldenseal is used for colds and other respiratory tract infections, infectious diarrhea, eye infections, and vaginitis (inflammation or infection of the vagina).
- It is occasionally used to treat cancer. It is also applied to wounds and canker sores, and is used as a mouthwash for sore gums, mouth, and throat.
Goldenseal’s numerous uses 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 relive congestion and excess mucous.
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.
Goldenseal contains calcium, iron, manganese, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, 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-infective 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, bronchi, genito-urinary tract and gastrointestinal tract. Clinical studies have shown it is effective in the treatment of diarrhea cause by E. coli (traveller’s diarrhea), Shigella dysenteriae (shigellosis), salmonella paratyphi (food poisoning), giardia lamblia (giardiasis), and vibrio cholerae (cholera).
Goldenseal may also help with allergic rhinitis, hay fever, laryngitis, hepatitis, cystitis, and alcoholic liver disease.
It has proven its value in cases of diarrhea and hemorrhoids. Its astringent properties have also been employed in cases of excessive menstruation and internal bleeding. 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. As a gargle it can be employed in cases of gum infections and sore throats. 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.
natural supplies dwindling, goldenseal is now grown commercially across the United States, especially in the Blue Ridge Mountains.Common Names–goldenseal, yellow root
Latin Name–Hydrastis canadensis
How Goldenseal Is Used
- The underground stems or roots of goldenseal are dried and used to make teas, liquid extracts, and solid extracts that may be made into tablets and capsules.
- Goldenseal is often combined with echinacea in preparations that are intended to be used for colds.
UNFI (Hudson Valley)
What the Science Says about Goldenseal
- Few studies have been published on goldenseal’s safety and effectiveness, and there is little scientific evidence to support using it for any health problem.
- Clinical studies on a compound found in goldenseal, berberine, suggest that the compound may be beneficial for certain infections–such as those that cause some types of diarrhea, as well as some eye infections. However, goldenseal preparations contain only a small amount of berberine, so it is difficult to extend the evidence about the effectiveness of berberine to goldenseal.
- NCCAM is funding a study to understand the mechanism by which berberine may act against tumors.
Side Effects and Cautions of Goldenseal
- Goldenseal is considered safe for short-term use in adults at recommended dosages. Rare side effects may include nausea and vomiting.
- There is little information about the safety of high dosages or the long-term use of goldenseal.
- Although drug interactions have not been reported, goldenseal may cause changes in the way the body processes drugs, and could potentially increase the levels of many drugs. However, a study of goldenseal and indinavir, a drug used to treat HIV infection, found no interaction.
- Other herbs containing berberine, including Chinese goldthread (Coptis trifolia) and Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium), are sometimes substituted for goldenseal. These herbs may have different effects, side effects, and drug interactions than goldenseal.
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid using goldenseal. The berberine in the herb may cause the uterus to contract, increasing the risk of premature labor or miscarriage. Berberine may also be transferred through breast milk, causing life-threatening liver problems in nursing infants.
- Goldenseal should not be given to infants and young children.
- Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.