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Medicinal Herb: Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)

Goldenseal

Biological Name:
(Hydrastis canadensis L.)

Family:
Ranunculaceae

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


Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)

Introduction:

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 American aborigines 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.

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 Golden Seal 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.

Safety:

Taken as recommended, Golden Seal is generally safe. However, as with all alkaloid-containing plants, high amounts may lead to gastrointestinal

References

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.

 

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Page last updated: 26th June 2020

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