Goldenseal (Orange-root, Orangeroot; Hydrastic canadensis) is a perennial herb that grows in the northeastern United States and Southeastern Canada. It has a purplish and hairy stem.
The leaves that form in Spring are also hairy and have 5-7 double-toothed lobes and small, single flowers with greenish white stamens. During the summer it bears a single berry with 10-30 seeds in it.
Goldenseal can be used both internally as a digestion aid, and externally as a topical antimicrobial. It is often blended with other herbs in order to give their medicinal effects a boost.
Herbalists today widely agree that Goldenseal has many terrific health benefits with it being an effective muscle stimulant, laxative, astrigent, and bitter tonic, as well as having anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anticatarrhal and alterative properties.
What Goldenseal Can Be Used For:
- To remove canker sores when gargled as a rinse.
- Duodenal ulcers
- Loss of appetite
- Liver disease
- To stimulate the appetite and bile secretion – It’s bitterness is responsible for this.
- Aid Digestion
Has an Astringent Effect on the Mucous Membranes of:
- Upper respiratory tract
- Gastrointestinal tract
- Skin (applied topically)
- Rectum (applied topically)
Traditionally Goldenseal was used by the Cherokee as a cancer cure.The Eclectics, in the 1830’s, continued this tradition and also used it for swollen breasts. Conium was used to treat smaller lumps in the breasts. The Eclectics never considered Goldenseal, alone as a viable cure for cancer.
Goldenseal has been believed to mask illicit drugs. It has been used to mask the presence of morphine in the blood of race horses. It has also been used to cover up illicit drugs in human urine samples. It has failed in both cases.
A lot of research has been done on berberine, a constituent of Goldenseal. The European Union actually placed Barberry in a table of Herbal Drugs with Serious Risks because it contained berberine. It is recommended that women do not take Goldenseal during pregnancy because of the berberine in it. Also, it should be given to young children with care.
Check with your local herbalist to find out what a safe dose is. The lethal dose of berberine to humans is believed to be 27.5 mg/kg. This kind of overdose is very unlikely because it is absorbed so slowly when taken orally. It absorbs into the human body fully after 4 hours and clears out at 8 hours.
Goldenseal appears to be non-toxic in normal doses, so just follow the directions on the bottle. There has been no published research on Goldenseal root powder or hydrastine, the other constituent of Goldenseal, so be extremely careful.