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Medicinal Herb: Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)


Biological Name:
(Hydrastis canadensis L., H. canadensis)


Other Names:
Eyebalm, Eyeroot, Goldenroot, Goldenseal, Ground raspberry, Indian turmeric, Jaundice root, Orangeroot, Radix Hydrastis, Sceau d’or, Yellow puccoon, Yellowroot

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)


It is a small perennial herb, with a horizontal, irregularly knotted, bright yellow root-stock, from 1/4 inch to 3/4 inch thick, giving off slender roots below and marked with scars of the flower-stems of previous years.

The flowering stem, which is pushed up early in the spring, is from 6 to 12 inches high, erect, cylindrical, hairy, with downward-pointing hairs, especially above, surrounded at the base with a few short, brown scales.

It bears two prominently-veined and wrinkled, dark green, hairy leaves, placed high up, the lower one stalked, the upper stalkless, roundish in outline, but palmately cut into 5 to 7 lobes, the margins irregularly and finely toothed. There is one solitary radical leaf on a long foot-stalk, similar in form to the stem leaves, but larger, when full-grown being about 9 inches across.

The flower, which is produced in April, is solitary, terminal, erect, small, with three small greenish-white sepals, falling away immediately after expansion, no petals and numerous stamens. The fruit is a head of small, fleshy, oblong, crimson berries, tipped with the persistent styles and containing one or two hard black, shining seeds. It is ripe in July and has much the appearance of a Raspberry (whence the name ‘Ground Raspberry’), but is not edible.

Traditional Indications in Herbal Medicine: 

The Native Americans valued the root highly as a tonic, stomachic and application for sore eyes and general ulceration, as well as a yellow dye for their clothing and weapons. It is one of the major herbs used in Western herbal medicine.

According to Mandal et al (2020), Goldenseal extract (containing berberine) has numerous therapeutic effects such as antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, hypolipidemic, hypoglycemic, antioxidant, neuroprotective (anti-Alzheimer’s disease), cardioprotective, and gastrointestinal protective.

The action is tonic, laxative, alterative and detergent, opthalmicum, antiperiodic, aperient, diuretic, antiseptic, deobstruent. 

It is a valuable remedy in the disordered conditions of the digestion and has a special action on the mucous membrane, making it of value as a local remedy in various forms of catarrh. In chronic inflammation of the colon and rectum, injections of Goldenseal are often of great service, and it has been used in haemorrhoids with excellent results, the alkaloid Hydrastine having an astringent action. The powder has proved useful as a snuff for nasal catarrh.

It is employed in dyspepsia, gastric catarrh, loss of appetite and liver troubles. As a tonic, it is of extreme value in cases of habitual constipation, given as a powder, combined with any aromatic. It is an efficient remedy for sickness and vomiting.
Useful for:

  • Common cold/sore throat
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Recurrent ear infection
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Blood purifier; good digestive tonic for those with normal digestion; central nervous system stimulent; antiseptic (wounds); powerful antibiotic and immune system stimulant; used as a spring tonic.
  • Used for liver disorders.
  • Used for ulcerations of mucosal surfaces (as external wash): gums, gum diseases, as eyewash for conjunctivitis, wounds, eczema, ringworm
  • Used for colds (reduces mucous discharge); sinus infection; hay fever; cystitis.

Active Compounds:

The two primary alkaloids are hydrastine and berberine, along with smaller amounts of canadine. Berberine, which ranges from 0.5-6.0% of the alkaloids present in goldenseal root and rhizome, has been the most extensively researched. It appears to have a wide spectrum of antibiotic activity against pathogens, such as Chlamydia species, E. coli, Salmonella typhi, and Entomeba histolytica.


Taken as recommended, Goldenseal is generally safe. However, as with all alkaloid-containing plants, high amounts may lead to gastrointestinal problems. Goldenseal is contra indicated in pregnancy.


https://www.drugs.com/npp/goldenseal.html (accessed 23/12/2022)

https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/goldenseal (accessed 23/12/2022)

Mandal SK, Maji AK, Mishra SK, Ishfaq PM, Devkota HP, Silva AS, Das N. Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.) and its active constituents: A critical review of their efficacy and toxicological issues. Pharmacol Res. 2020 Oct;160:105085. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2020.105085. Epub 2020 Jul 16. PMID: 32683037.


In Silico Analysis of the Effect of Hydrastis canadensis on Controlling Breast Cancer 

Hima Vyshnavi Am, Sathianarayanan Sankaran, Krishnan Namboori Pk, Baskar Venkidasamy, Abdurahman Hajinur Hirad, Abdullah A Alarfaj, Ramachandran Vinayagam. Medicina (Kaunas). 2023 Aug 2;59(8):1412. doi: 10.3390/medicina59081412. 


Background and Objectives: Breast cancer is a significant type of cancer among women worldwide. Studies have reported the anti-carcinogenic activity of Hydrastis Canadensis (Goldenseal) in cancer cell lines. Hydrastis Canadensis could help eliminate toxic substances due to its anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and other properties. The design phase includes the identification of potential and effective molecules through modern computational techniques. 

Objective: This work aims to study Hydrastis Canadensis’s effect in controlling hormone-independent breast cancer through in-silico analysis. 

Materials and Methods: The preliminary screening of reported phytochemicals includes biomolecular networking. Identifying functionally relevant phytochemicals and the respective target mutations/genes leads to selecting 3D proteins of the desired mutations being considered the target. Interaction studies have been conducted using docking. The kinetic and thermodynamic stability of complexes was studied through molecular dynamic simulation and MM-PBSA/GBSA analysis. Pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic features have been predicted. The mechanism-wise screening, functional enrichment, and interactional studies suggest that canadaline and Riboflavin effectively interact with the target proteins. 

Results: Hydrastis Canadensis has been identified as the effective formulation containing all these constituents. The phytoconstituents; Riboflavin and Canadensis showed good interaction with the targets of hormone-independent breast cancer. The complexes were found to be kinetically and thermodynamically stable. 

Conclusions: Hydrastis Canadensis has been identified as effective in controlling ‘hormone-independent or basal-like breast cancer’ followed by ‘hormone-dependent breast cancer: Luminal A’ and Luminal B.

Keywords: Hydrastis canadensis; biomolecular networking; docking; pharmacodynamics; pharmacokinetics; triple-negative breast cancer.

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Page last updated: 26th June 2020

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