Goldenseal: Hydrastis canadensis, Golden Root, Yellow root, Orange root, Puccoon, Ground raspberry, Wild curcuma


Goldenseal is becoming increasingly hard to find due to over harvesting.  Wild crops still do exist though and would be mostly found in woodland areas.It needs moist soil and in North America is found in woodland areas.  It is a perennial plant that will bloom in April and ripen in July.  The flower consists of three greenish white sepals which disconnect immediately after opening up.  The fruit resembles dark red raspberries and contains two dark black seeds. The root is used commercially and is a thick knotted yellow root.


The main compounds that are used by consumers and show pharmacological use are berberine and hydrastine. These are both alkaloids and show some microbiological use in stopping viral and bacterial infections.

Fun Fact:

John Uri Lloyd and a pharmacist are responsible for the start of this rumor with a novel that they wrote where such possibilities were true. The majority of commercial Goldenseal is harvested Ohio.


Goldenseal has been used for many years and continues to grow in popularity among herbal drug users. The first documented cases of using Goldenseal date back to 1820 where it was used as an infusion for indigestion. Beforehand however Native Americans, specifically the Cherokee Nation, would harvest the plant and use it to treat wounds, eye irritation, and as a wash for skin complications. The strong yellow dye that is derived from the root was also used for clothing and weapons to color them yellow. Theses uses spread throughout the world as North America was settled and continued to be popular along with new uses that were discovered.  During the Civil War Goldenseal became widely used in many new medications that were developed.  Popularity continued to grow and Goldenseal can now be found in most pharmacies that carry herbal supplements.


Goldenseal is now most commonly used to enhance the effects of other herbal supplements and also to treat cold and flu like symptoms.  Ulcers are also treated with Goldenseal.  It is used in infections of the mucus membranes of the body.  Creams and ointments can be used to treat skin irritations such as eczema, herpes, athletes foot, and ringworm.  Thus this can act as an antifungal.  Eye irritation, yeast infections, and canker sores can also be treated by goldenseal by using a dilute infusion.



Goldenseal is not regulated by the FDA and therefore there is not a specific dose or recommended dose for effective treatment.  A common dose is 325mg of Goldenseal.  Goldenseal has been prepared in tinctures, infusions, creams, ointments, and salves.

Contraindications/Interactions/Adverse Reactions:

While the FDA does not regulate or test Goldenseal, it is recommended that pregnant women avoid taking Goldenseal.  It is believed that the berberine in the plant could cause uterine contractions.  People with liver or kidney complications should avoid taking Goldenseal as it can increase bilirubin levels and has not been tested for safety.  People with blood pressure should also avoid taking Goldenseal. Side effects from Goldenseal include irritation of the mouth, nausea, nervousness, and digestive problems.  These side effects are rare but should not be disregarded.


References Cited:

1. Wong, Cathy. "Goldenseal." Alternative Medicine (2007): n. pag. Web. 20 Oct 2009. <>.

2. "Goldenseal." National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine d343. (2008): n. pag. Web. 20 Oct 2009. <>.

3. "Goldenseal." Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (2009): n. pag. Web. 20 Oct 2009. <>.

4. "Goldenseal." Herbal Information Center (2008): n. pag. Web. 20 Oct 2009. <>.

5. Grieve, M. "GoldenSeal." (2009): n. pag. Web. 20 Oct 2009. <>.