|Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.) a member of
the family Ranunculaceae, is a native American medicinal drug introduced to early settlers
by Cherokee Indians, who used it as a wash for skin disorders and sore eyes. Goldenseal
extract, derived from the rhizome and roots of this small forest plant, has acquired a
considerable reputation as a general bitter tonic and to support the health of the gastric
and genitourinary systems.
Goldenseal's benefits can be attributed to its alkaloids, especially hydrastine and
barberine. The barberine is also responsible for the herb's characteristic golden color.
These alkaloids are strongly astringent and help soothe irritation mucous membranes.
Hydrastine has also been reported to lower blood pressure and stimulate peristalsis, along
with being an anti-tussive (relieves coughs).
Barberine and its sulfate, barberine sulfate, have been demonstrated to have
anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and immunostimulatory activity. Barberine has shown marked
effects on acute diarrhea. Barberine also enhances the activity of specific white blood
cells that help the body fight infection against invading organisms. Goldenseal also
reportedly increases the blood flow to the spleen, which also supports immune function.
Goldenseal has been recommended to support the health of mucous membranes, including
stomach, intestinal, vaginal and rectal. It has been reported that the plant relieves
pains and helps heal wounds and stop bleeding. In addition, the antibacterial action helps
control infection of open sores.
Too high of a dose of Goldenseal may cause nausea, vomiting, a decrease in the white blood
count and feelings of pins and needles in the hands and feet.