Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
Goldenseal root has been long used by Native Americans for a wide range of ailments. Known as an antibiotic and anti-infectious agent, it has also been implemented in the form of a douche to clear yeast infections. Goldenseal works by stimulating bile production and secretion, and by destroying noxious bacteria. It has also been known to improve digestion. Goldenseal is often used to treat the Common Cold, either singly or in combination with Echinacea.
Traditionally, Native Americans used goldenseal as a dye, as well as a treatment for Skin disorders, digestive problems, liver disease, Diarrhoea, and eye irritations.
For Skin Wounds, use a sufficient amount of goldenseal cream, ointment, or powder to cover the wound. Clean the wound at least once a day to remove residual herb particles that may be trapped in the wound.
For mouth sores and Sore Throats, gargle or swish goldenseal tincture. An alternative is boiled tea, using 0.5 to 1 g of goldenseal in one cup of water.
For vaginal candidiasis, use goldenseal tea as a douche.
For digestive tract or clogged sinuses, take an oral dosage of 250 to 300 mg goldenseal three times daily for no more than a couple of weeks.
Goldenseal helps in the management of:
Goldenseal appears to speed the healing of wounds. As a topical, it is available as a salve, cream, powder, or ointment. While there are no conclusive scientific studies to support its use, goldenseal is known to contain berberine, a substance with strong antibacterial and antifungal properties (1,2). Goldenseal may also alleviate Inflammation of the mucous membranes.
Goldenseal does not seem to be effective as an oral antibiotic (3). However, it seems to be an effective antibacterial when in direct contact with an Infection. Goldenseal may therefore be helpful in the treatment of Sore Throats, digestive tract diseases (i.e. Ulcers), Bladder Infections, as well as fungal infections of the Skin.
A popular remedy for the treatment and prevention of the Common Cold is a combined formula of goldenseal and Echinacea. It is believed that the formula is effective as an Immune System booster and an antibiotic. While echinacea may increase immunity, there is no conclusive evidence that goldenseal has such properties. Moreover, antibiotics are not effective treatment for the common cold (4). What goldenseal may provide is relief of clogged sinuses and chest congestion. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim either.
Goldenseal may also be effective for the treatment of nausea, gas, and Heartburn.
SAFETY AND PRECAUTIONS
Goldenseal appears to be quite safe. Side effects are uncommon, and have been limited to gastrointestinal distress and increased Nervousness when taken in high doses. Rumours that goldenseal can disrupt normal intestinal bacteria, cause ulcerations in the stomach and other mucous membranes are untrue (5, 6).
The use of goldenseal while pregnant is not advised, for it has been shown to cause uterine contractions in animals.
Safety in young children, nursing or pregnant women, and patients with severe liver or kidney disease has not been determined (7).
INTERACTIONS AND CONTRA-INDICATIONS
Avoid topical application in conjunction with the Acne medication tretinoin (retinoic acid, Vitamin A acid).
Sedatives, hypnotics, and beta-adrenergic blocking agents may inhibit the anti-inflammatory activity of the herb.
1. Hahn FE, et al. Berberine. Antibiotics 3: 577-588, 1976.
2. Amin AH, et al. Berberine sulfate: Antimicrobial activity, bioassay, and mode of action. Can J Microbiol 15: 1067-1076, 1969.
3. Bensky D and Gamble H. Chinese herbal medicine: Materia medica. Seattle, WA: Eastland Press, 1986.
4. Bergner P. The healing power of echinacea and goldenseal. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1997.
5. Bergner P. The healing power of echinacea and goldenseal. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1997.
6. Foster S. Botanical Series No. 309: Goldenseal. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council, 1991: 5-6.
7. DeSmet PAGM, et al. (eds.). Adverse effects of herbal drugs. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1992: 97-104.