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Goldenseal

What You Need to Know About Goldenseal

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Updated April 09, 2014

What is Goldenseal?

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) is one of the most popular herbs on the market today. It was traditionally used by Native Americans to treat skin disorders, digestive problems, liver conditions, diarrhea, and eye irritations. Goldenseal became part of early colonial medical care as the European settlers learned of it from the Iroquois and other tribes.

Goldenseal gained widespread popularity in the early 1800s due to its promotion by a charismatic herbalist named Samuel Thompson. Thompson believed goldenseal to be a magical cure for many conditions. Demand for this herb dramatically increased, until Thompson's system of medicine fell out of popularity.

Over the years, goldenseal has gone through periods of popularity. There is currently great demand for goldenseal which coupled with limited supply of wild-crafted sources, has driven the price of goldenseal up.

Goldenseal is available in nutritional supplement form. It is also available as a cream or ointment to heal skin wounds. Other names include: Yellow root, Orange root, Puccoon, Ground raspberry, and Wild curcuma

Goldenseal herbal tincture can be used as a mouthwash or gargle for mouth sores and sore throats. A tea made of goldenseal can also be used for this purpose

Why Do People Use Goldenseal?

Goldenseal is a bitter that stimulates the secretion and flow of bile, and can also be used as an expectorant. It also has strong activity against a variety of bacteria, yeast, and fungi, such as E. Coli and Candida.

Goldenseal is used for infections of the mucus membranes, including the mouth, sinuses, throat, the intestines, stomach, urinary tract and vagina.

Goldenseal is used for the following conditions:

  • minor wound healing
  • bladder infections
  • fungal infections of the skin
  • colds and flu
  • sinus and chest congestion

Goldenseal became the center of a myth that it could mask a positive drug screen. This false idea was part of a novel written by pharmacist and author John Uri Lloyd.

Side Effects and Safety

Goldenseal should not be taken by pregnant women. One of goldenseal's chief constituents, berberine, has been reported to cause uterine contractions and to increase levels of bilirubin. Goldenseal should not be used by people with high blood pressure. Those with heart conditions should only use goldenseal under the supervision of a health professional.

The safety of goldenseal in nursing women, children, and people with kidney and liver disease is unknown.

Side effects are rare, but include irritation of the mouth and throat, nausea, increased nervousness, and digestive problems. The liquid forms of goldenseal are yellow-orange and can stain.

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