Many people new to using medicinal herbs may wonder, "How does goldenseal work so well?" By understanding the chemical properties of a plant, you should be able to clearly know what parts of the plant are used in making the products you buy.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), which is also known by the name orange-root, is a plant native to southern Canada and the northern United States. This herb is a perennial and is a member of the Ranunculaceae family. The roots of the goldenseal plant are a tangled web of yellow, thread-like tendrils which grows into a purple colored stem. The plant grows up a thick stalk and sports a single berry each spring. The roots are harvested and dried. Once dried, the roots are ground into a powder that is used for making teas, extracts, tablets or capsules.
How Does Goldenseal Work
Goldenseal contains an ingredient called hydrastine which works as an astringent and also has a haemostatic agent which helps stop bleeding. These properties are what makes goldenseal especially helpful in treating vaginal infections and bleeding. Berberine is another goldenseal ingredient that is part of a family of isoquinoline alkaloids. These alkaloids have bactericidal properties which make them excellent defenders of the body's immune system. The alkaloids help treat infections and also help dry excess mucous in the eyes, nose and throat.
Tinctures may help ease the pain associated with severe pre-menstrual syndrome and should be taken three times per day with the usual dosage being one-quarter to one-half teaspoon. Tinctures are also used to reduce nasal mucous and upset stomachs.
A body wash can be made by diluting one teaspoon of goldenseal powder in two cups of cool water. The wash is especially helpful in treating eczema because it soothes irritated skin.
Capsules are primarily sold in 200mg doses and are taken two to three times per day. The most common use of capsules is to control hay fever, night sweats due to menopause, and as an expectorant in dealing with respiratory infections.
Douches can be made by diluting one teaspoon of goldenseal powder in two cups of cool water. Some users prefer to switch plain water for rosewater when douching to also reduce vaginal itching and discharge odor. Douches may also help relieve symptoms of yeast infections.
Ear drop solutions are made by mixing two teaspoons of goldenseal in one and one-half cups of cool water. Put the solution into an ear dropper then place several drops in the infected ear. The goldenseal should help ease the pain.
Mouthwash made from goldenseal is one-half teaspoon goldenseal powder mixed with one cup of warm water. Gargle several times to reduce the pain associated with mouth ulcers and sore throats.
If taken for short periods of time, there are no significant side effects. Longer term use may cause nausea and vomiting in some individuals. Goldenseal is intended for adults only and should not be taken by children or pregnant women because berberine, which is an ingredient found in goldenseal, may cause jaundice in newborns.