Goldenseal - Hydrastis Canadensis

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This Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) monograph is an excerpt from the 1999, first edition of Dr. Sharol's book "Herbal Medicine From The Heart of The Earth." You can purchase the 2020, third edition of this book with an expanded materia medica/monograph section, herbal formulas and directions on making herbal products in Dr. Sharol's Book Store. You receive free shipping in the USA. The expanded 3rd edition materia medica, and additional herbal tidbits are also available as a kindle ebook at Amazon and details on this e-book are here.

Goldenseal - Hydrastis canadensis in the Ranunculaceae or Buttercup family

Parts used: Root.

Taste/smell: Bitter, astringent.

Tendencies: Cooling and drying.

Dosage: Decoction: 1 teaspoon per cup of water; or 1:4 dry or 1:1 fresh + dry liquid extract: 10-60 drops 1-4 times per day.

Mental picture and specific indications: Goldenseal is indicated for relaxed, atonic mucous membranes with thick yellowish secretions. It is useful for debilitated individuals with poor digestion and constipation. The tongue is atonic, slightly pallid, enlarged, scalloped at the edges, with slight yellow coating, ulcerations and fissures. The person feels depressed and hypersensitive and may have a dull frontal headache or sinus headache. The symptoms are worse with heat of the sun, bright lights shining on the person, while stooping and with the sound of moving water.

Use: (a) Alterative, (b) Astringent, (c) Laxative in small doses, (d) Adrenolytic, (e) Styptic, (f) Bitter tonic, (g) Antimicrobial.

Goldenseal is used for colds, sore throats, acute and chronic middle ear infections, conjunctivitis,  infected oral cavity, vaginitis and a variety of other mucous membrane problems. I often use this herb in ear drop formulas as a tincture. (I do not put herbal oils in the ears unless I am sure the patient does not have a fungal infection.) I also often use it in eye washes, but would not advise this unless you have someone adept at using it, show you how to make an eye rinse out of it.

Goldenseal is also commonly used for gastrointestinal disorders with a focus on infectious or parasite induced issues. Of all the herbs that contain berberine, this is the herb that I go to when I want  an antimicrobial action with an astringent feature. The astringency is what makes it so useful for atonic chronic mucosal problems with pale relaxed tissues as well as subacute mucosal membrane problems with red, engorged tissues. Small doses have a stimulating, tonifying effect upon the gastric tissues. It decreases passive bleeding. It also stimulates the normal action of the liver and gall bladder.

Contraindications: Goldenseal may exacerbate symptoms such as hypoglycemia, shakiness and hypotension. The fresh plant may cause mucosal irritation. It is contraindicated during pregnancy due to uterine stimulation from berberine, hydrastine, canadine and hydrastinine in animal uteri studies, unless used under the guidance of a qualified health care practitioner. Goldenseal was shown in one study with 12 adults to inhibit two major metabolic enzymes, CYP2D6 and CYP3A4. Since these two enzyme systems are responsible for transforming a large percent of drugs, we should be careful of interactions with drugs that use these enzyme systems. 739 Wild Goldenseal is endangered. Only organic goldenseal should be used.

If you are looking for directions on making teas or tinctures, please see our "Making Herbal Products" page.

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Copyright 1999 by Sharol Tilgner, N.D. (ISBN 1-881517-02-0) - all rights reserved.

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