What Is Goldenseal Used For

Kathleen Roberts
Goldenseal capsules

What is goldenseal used for? You may wonder this as you browse the shelves of a natural foods store. If so, you will find it interesting to know that goldenseal has many uses. It may be great for certain health issues, but it isn't for everyone.

About Goldenseal

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) is a member of the buttercup family and is generally found growing wild in wooded areas. Unfortunately, it isn't found as commonly as it once was. Prized for it's medicinal qualities, goldenseal is heavily hunted and collected. Today it is much more difficult to find than back when it was first used by Native Americans

The part used is the rhizome and root. This is why these plants are disappearing. Once a plant is harvested, it's destroyed. Unlike many herbs that allow the harvesting of leaves or flowers while still keeping the plant intact, harvesting goldenseal removes that plant from the environment. Seeds take five to seven years to be harvestable plants, so it is difficult to replace this herb at the same rate it is harvested. If you must collect wild goldenseal, please do so responsibly so others can continue to benefit from this herb in the future. Be sure to check the legalities of harvesting wild goldenseal as well, as it is considered endangered.

What Is Goldenseal used For

So, what is goldenseal used for? Native Americans used goldenseal to treat many conditions. Common uses for goldenseal included skin diseases, digestive problems, liver problems and infections. It was also used as a yellow dye.

Today, goldenseal is used for it's anti inflammatory, anti fungal and antimicrobial properties. It is commonly used as a treatment for cold and flu as well as for bladder infections. There is also evidence that goldenseal kills Candida.

Taking Goldenseal

Taken medicinally, goldenseal is commonly used as a tincture or in dried form in a capsule. You may also find it in ointments, powders or tablets. It has been proven beneficial in treating periodontal disease, Meniere's disease and heartburn.

If you are pregnant or nursing, have high blood pressure or have heart problems, you should not take goldenseal. You should also avoid it if you take heparin or warfarin because it can reduce the effectiveness of these drugs.

For Astringent Properties

Because goldenseal has astringent properties, it is often taken for the following conditions:

  • Menorrhagia
  • Eczema
  • Ringworm
  • Impetigo
  • Athlete's foot

For Antimicrobial Properties

As an antimicrobial, goldenseal is thought to be effective for treating:

  • Streptococcus
  • Staphylococcus
  • Salmonella typhi
  • Candida albicans
  • Giardia lamblia
  • Many other bacteria and fungi

This is not proven however. Tests involving antimicrobial benefits were done using berberine salts specifically. Berberine is the active substance in goldenseal that has been found to have antimicrobial properties.

Other Uses for Goldenseal

Combined with echinacea, goldenseal is a common remedy for colds. It may also be beneficial for treating diarrhea, again, because of the berberine in it. Goldenseal is also believed to be a useful eye wash to treat infections. For mouth sores, sore throat and inflamed gums, it can be used as a gargle or a mouthwash if mixed with baking soda.

Used in a douche, it is thought to be helpful for yeast infections. Taken as a daily tonic, it is helpful to boost the immune system. It is best to purchase commercial formulations and follow the dosing on the package carefully. This not only assures the potency of the product but also protects wild plants from over harvesting. As always, you should consult your doctor or herbalist before self-medicating with this or any other herb.

Where to Buy

If you'd like to try goldenseal yourself, here are a few brands to try:

What Is Goldenseal Used For