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Hydrastis canadensis

What is goldenseal?

Other names: Eye Root, Golden-root, Ground Raspberry, Jaundice Root

Goldenseal originates from North America, it is a member of the buttercup family. Native Americans used it as a multi-purpose medicinal plant. Its history of use include as an immune booster and for many infections. As a bitter herb, it benefits digestive complaints and stomach aches. Other uses included for fevers, skin conditions and ulcers. It is known for its anti-inflammatory action.

What are the potential therapeutic benefits of goldenseal?

In modern times, goldenseal is very popular as a herbal remedy worldwide. Teas, herbal extracts, or capsules sourced from this plant may be used to address colds, hay fever, digestive problems, sore gums, and skin problems.

The herb is naturally rich in a class of alkaloid compounds, with berberine, hydrastine, and canadine being found in the highest concentrations.

Immune system benefits

Goldenseal is praised for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s often taken to prevent or treat upper respiratory tract infections and the common cold [i]. Goldenseal contains berberine. Cell and animal studies suggest that berberine, one of the main active compounds in goldenseal, may help fight infections caused by bacteria and viruses. This includes the virus responsible for the common cold [ii] [iii]. Goldenseal is often combined with echinacea in over the counter herbal cold and flu remedies for double the effect. Berberine may stop bacteria from sticking to the walls of the bladder, potentially preventing or helping treat a urinary tract infection. Berberine is also believed to keep Candida albicans, a fungus that’s naturally present in the human body, from multiplying in excess [iv]. One particular study observed that goldenseal mixed with myrrh and thyme helped treat oral herpes, however more research is needed [v].

Digestive health benefits

With a powerful anti-inflammatory action, Goldenseal may protect and heal the gut and intestinal tract, providing relief from constipation, bloating and cramps. A few test-tube studies suggest that goldenseal extracts may fight H. pylori, a bacterium that can infect the lining of your stomach and has been linked to stomach ulcers [vi]. Berberine, one of the main active compounds in goldenseal, is thought to be largely responsible for this action. Goldenseal extracts also appear effective against the C. jejuni bacterium, which is a cause of gastroenteritis infections [vii].

Heart health benefits

Berberine can help to regulate heart rhythm and provide relief from arrhythmias and heart palpitations. A study found that berberine has anti-arrhythmic properties and was found to “prolong the duration of ventricular action potential”. Also known as "cardiac action potential", this is a brief change in voltage across the cell membrane of heart cells. The study concluded that the cardiovascular effects of berberine suggest its possible clinical usefulness in the treatment of arrhythmias and/or heart failure [viii] [ix].

Skin health benefits

With powerful antioxidant and anti-microbial properties, Goldenseal can be used to combat skin problems such as acne, eczema and psoriasis. It has also been found to be effective against herpes, ringworm, blisters and sores. Goldenseal can be made into a poultice and applied directly to problem areas, or used as an ingredient in salves, ointments and skin creams.

Some test-tube studies suggest that berberine, an antimicrobial agent and one of the main active compounds in goldenseal, may help fight P. acnes, the bacterium responsible for many acne cases [x].

Typical use

Goldenseal Tincture: Goldenseal Tincture can be added to water or fruit juice. Traditionally taken: 1 - 3ml up to 3 times per day, or as directed by a herbal practitioner.

Goldenseal Powder: Goldenseal Powder can be used with a dressing to cover abrasions and wounds. It can be re-hydrated in water or fruit juice, encapsulated or added to a herbal powder blend. Take 1/3 to 1 gram a day. For wounds, use a very small amount of paste directly on wounds. Do not exceed recommended serving.


Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Using goldenseal during pregnancy or breast-feeding is unsafe. Components in goldenseal have the ability to cross the placenta and enter into breast milk. Brain damage (kernicterus) has developed in newborn infants exposed to goldenseal. Do not use goldenseal during pregnancy or breast-feeding.


Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Goldenseal might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Some medications that are changed by the liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), clozapine (Clozaril), codeine, desipramine (Norpramin), donepezil (Aricept), fentanyl (Duragesic), flecainide (Tambocor), fluoxetine (Prozac), meperidine (Demerol), methadone (Dolophine), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), olanzapine (Zyprexa), ondansetron (Zofran), tramadol (Ultram), trazodone (Desyrel), and others.


The body breaks down cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) to get rid of it. Goldenseal might decrease how fast the body breaks down cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune). This may cause dangerously high levels to build up.


Taking goldenseal with digoxin (Lanoxin) might cause a very slight increase in digoxin (Lanoxin) levels in the body.

Recommended For

Immunity , Bloating , Viral Infection , Colds , Flu , Skin Support

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