How does it feel?
The infused tincture smells earthy and resinous, with an initially bitter taste.
All around the world the actions of traditional medicines were understood by their immediate sensory impacts. Click on each of Goldenseal’s key qualities below to learn more:
What can I use it for?
Goldenseal is considered an endangered plant in the wild, so before you use it, make sure you are purchasing cultivated Goldenseal from a reputable source. The sustainability concerns of this plant means it is rarely used, and is often substituted for other plants containing berberine in many herbal formulas.
However, Goldenseal is an extremely effective antimicrobial herb applied both internally and externally. It can be applied to clean wounds, rashes, and fungal infections. It is also specific when there is excess mucous or catarrh in any mucous membrane, whether that is in the respiratory, digestive, or reproductive system.
As a bitter, it is excellent for stimulating digestion, helping the body produce and release bile, and promoting an appetite.
Into the heart of Goldenseal
Goldenseal was used by indigenous people as a medicine in North America before the arrival of the settlers. It was valued as a wash for eyes and as a digestive remedy. This speaks to the value of its ability to sooth membranes and support digestion.
Herbalists often support digestion as a central aspect of a wholistic treatment, as this how the body absorbs nutrients and eliminates most toxins. A well-functioning digestive system must be in place for health, and so effective remedies for this system are highly valued in the dispensary.
The early settlers of the United States learned of the medicinal uses of Goldenseal from the indigenous people. The Cherokee used the plant as a stomachic, a remedy for sore eyes, and a yellow dye. The plant quickly became a popular remedy with the pioneers for these uses. BY the twentieth century, it was widely in use. By 1905, The United States of Agriculture had recognised the growing demand for the plant as a medicine, when an estimated 20,000lb to 30,000lb per year was being supplied.
Traditionally, the root has been used as a wide-ranging digestive remedy. Goldenseal was applied in cases of digestive inflammation, constipation, haemorrhoids, vomiting, dyspepsia, and loss of appetite. It was used as a snuff for nasal catarrh. Reportedly, it was historically used in cases of sexually transmitted diseases, though this is not an acceptable application of herbal medicine currently. It has been used in labour to aid in contractions, though this use is not recommended.
It was considered to be a specific to prevent pitting of small pox.
What practitioners say
Goldenseal is considered an extremely effective tonic for mucous membranes, and may be applied in a formula tending to any mucous membrane that may be over-producing catarrh or mucus.
Digestive system: Goldenseal continues to be an excellent remedy for many digestive complaints because of its tonic effect on mucous membranes. Its bitter activity helps stimulate bile flow for cases of sluggish digestion or lack of appetite. It is also well applied to digestive ulcerations, such as peptic ulcers, and colitis. Goldenseal is especially indicated if there are hepatic symptoms.
Integumentary system (skin): Goldenseal is very antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory which makes it a great remedy for wounds, fungal infections, and rashes. The tincture can be added to a cream. The powder is also useful topically. Goldenseal may also be added to a wash for infections of the eyes, mouth, and gums.
Reproductive system: Goldenseal, although a uterine stimulant, is also anti-hemorrhagic and can be used in a formula to assist in reducing heavy menstrual bleeding. Goldenseal can also be used in a douche for thrush and other vaginal infections.
Did you know?
Goldenseal was traditionally used as a dye by the Cherokee in North America.
Digestive bitter concoction
- 15g Dandelion root
- 10g Goldenseal or Oregon Grape root
- 15g Bitter orange peel
- 5g Liquorice root
- Mix all ingredients well together.
- Take 2 tsp and boil in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes.
- Not suitable for those who are pregnant or who have high blood pressure.
When used within the recommended dose, Goldenseal is considered a safe herb.
Goldenseal is contraindicated for those with high blood pressure as hydrastine may increase blood pressure. Prolonged use may inhibit vitamin B absorption.
Goldenseal is not recommended for use during pregnancy or lactation.
Due to the high price of the root and its status as an endangered plant, many Goldenseal products may be adulterated. Sourcing sustainable and reputable Goldenseal is imperative to safety.
Western herbal actions are
- Mucous membrane tonic
There is limited available clinical research on the root of Goldenseal, though berberine has been the focus of many studies.
In animal and human studies, berberine has shown to be hypoglycaemic. In one pilot human study, berberine was found to be comparable to metformin for the treatment of diabetes mellitus 2. As berberine has been found to increase insulin sensitivity, it is also useful in the treatment of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). One study found that administration of berberine improved ovulation rate in patients with PCOS.
Berberine has also been found to improve cardiovascular parameters. Berberine has been found to lower blood pressure, lower blood lipids, and have anti-arrhythmic effects.
Berberine has been demonstrated to have a wide spectrum cytotoxic activity against human cancer cell lines. In addition to this, it has shown chemoprotective activity in vitro and in vivo.
The anti-bacterial properties of berberine have also been extensively studied. It has been shown to be effective against Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae, Shigella dysenteriae, Streptococcus agalactiae, and Helicobacter pylori. It has also been demonstrated to increase the effectiveness of antibiotics against antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.
Further human trials with both Goldenseal and its constituents are required.
To see the references used in this summary check our downloadable Expert Herbal Reality Resource pdf
- Dried root: 0.7-2g per day
- Tincture 1:3 : 2-4ml per day
- Tincture 1:5: 3.5-7ml per day
- Isoquinoline alkaloids (2.5- 6%): hydrastine (3.2-4%), berberine (up to 6%), canadine (0.5-1%), berberastine (2-3%)
- Fatty acids
- phenylpropanoids: meconin, chlorogenic acid
- small amount of volatile oil