Goldenseal: 9 Potential Health Benefits, Dosage, And Possible Side Effects

Written by Sindhu Koganti


Scientific name: Hydrastis canadensis

Origin: North America

History: Used by Native Americans for centuries as traditional medicine for cold, eye infections, and sore gums.

Properties: Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral

Active Component: Berberine

Available In: Capsule, root extract, tincture, and powder forms

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) is a wonder herbal remedy that has been used for centuries for its health benefits. This folk medicine is native to North America. It is rich in berberine, the natural alkaloid with antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Goldenseal can help improve digestion, treat eye problems, promote oral health, prevent urinary tract infections, and help treat common cold and other respiratory tract infections. In this article, we have discussed the potential health benefits of goldenseal, its dosage, and possible side effects and precautions to be taken. Keep reading.

9 Potential Health Benefits Of Goldenseal

1. May Help Improve Digestion

Goldenseal has been used by Native Americans to treat digestive upsets like diarrhea. Its anti-ulcerogenic effects help fight Helicobacter pylori, the microbes that cause ulcers by disrupting your stomach lining. Goldenseal also contains berberine that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for treating diarrhea. A study conducted on 165 adult patients with acute diarrhea (caused by Escherichia coli) found that berberine has the ability to act against diarrhea-causing pathogens (7).

Berberine also has the efficacy to treat small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). The symptoms of SIBO may include bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. A study conducted by the Griffith University, Australia, found that goldenseal can inhibit the growth of H. pylori and C. jejuni that are known to cause gastric disease.

2. Helps Treat Eye Problems

Goldenseal was traditionally used to treat itchy eyes and mild eye irritation. Berberine has been used in eye drops to treat trachoma (a bacterial infection) and in eyewashes to treat eye inflammation. It also is believed to help with the treatment of conjunctivitis. However, more studies are warranted in this regard.

3. May Improve Oral Health

Goldenseal is a commonly found ingredient in mouthwashes for treating sore gums. In a study, a herbal mouth rinse formulated with goldenseal and other herbs was found to reduce gingivitis and gingival bleeding. The mouth rinse acted against several oral pathogens responsible for dental plaque and sore gums.

Another study conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago found that the berberine in goldenseal can act against oral pathogens like Streptococcus mutans and Fusobacterium nucleatum.

4. May Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections

The bacterial overgrowth in the inner walls of the bladder can cause several urinary tract infections (UTIs). Golden has been used in folk medicine for treating urinary disorders. Berberine can act against E.coli and Proteus species of bacteria by keeping these from adhering to the cells in the urinary tract.

An excessive growth of fungi, like Candida albicans, may also cause genitourinary tract and vaginal yeast infections. In one study, plant extracts containing berberine that were given to patients with recurrent UTIs showed an improvement in their condition and a reduced risk of a recurrence.

5. Helps Treat Herpes

Goldenseal, when combined with thyme and myrrh, may help treat oral herpes. The berberine in goldenseal may also exhibit anti-viral activity against herpes viruses. However, more studies are required to understand this action of goldenseal on humans.

6. Treats Cold And Other Upper Respiratory Tract Infections

Goldenseal is used as a dietary supplement for treating common cold and upper respiratory tract infections. It is combined with echinacea in many cold therapy procedures. As per research, Echinacea may help in the treatment of respiratory tract infections and inflammatory conditions like cold, cough, and bronchitis. In another study, echinacea’s immuno-modulatory, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties were found to help lower recurrent respiratory tract infections.

The berberine in goldenseal plays a key role in fighting against common cold-causing pathogens. A mice study conducted by the Jinan University, China, found that the anti-fungal and antibacterial properties of berberine act against influenza and help relieve pulmonary inflammation. Berberine also inhibits influenza-induced viral pneumonia. However, more research studies on humans are needed to understand this benefit of goldenseal.

7. May Improve Heart Health

In a small study conducted on 51 patients diagnosed with cardiac failure, intake of 1.2 g of berberine tablets per day showed a positive effect on cardiac contractility. Goldenseal is also known to lower LDL cholesterol naturally.

Bad cholesterol is a primary risk factor for many cardiovascular diseases. As per studies, berberine alone or in combination with other dietary supplements was found to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) by 20% to 30%.

8. May Help Treat Diabetes

Berberine possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation (which are associated with diabetes). This bioactive compound can promote insulin secretion and reduce sugar absorption from the gut. It helps lower blood glucose levels. Another study suggests that berberine could be effective in treating high blood sugar in type 2 diabetes. However, more studies are warranted in this regard.

9. May Help Reduce Cancer Risk

Berberine can induce programmed cell death in tumor cells. A study conducted by the Seoul National University College of Medicine in Seoul found that berberine may prevent cancer progression by blocking signals necessary for breast cancer cell survival. In another study, berberine showed its anti-tumor activity against human and rat malignant brain tumors. However, more research is warranted to further understand the anti-cancer properties of berberine.

These are the health benefits of goldenseal. But how much of it can you consume?

What Is The Recommended Dosage Of Goldenseal?

Goldenseal is available as dried roots, tinctures, capsules, powders, and tea. As a dietary supplement, it can be taken in a wide range of doses:

  • Alcoholic tinctures: 2 to 4 ml, three times per day
  • Decoction of dried roots: 0.5 to 10 g, three times per day
  • Fluid extract: 0.3 to 10 mL, three times per day

Steep two teaspoons of the dried herb in one cup of water to prepare goldenseal tea. However, there are no specific recommendations for goldenseal dosage. Consult your doctor for more information.

Goldenseal is generally considered safe for consumption. But it may cause some side effects in certain individuals.

Side Effects And Precautions

Goldenseal is considered safe for consuming for short periods at the recommended dosages. Rare side effects may include nausea and/or vomiting. However, not enough is known about the effects of its long-term use.

Studies state that goldenseal may slow down the activity of enzymes like cytochrome p450 and cause certain medications to remain in the body for longer periods (31). They also are thought to interact with antidepressants, though information in this regard is limited.


  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also avoid using goldenseal. Berberine may cause or worsen jaundice in newborn infants.
  • Certain goldenseal dietary supplements were found to contain goldenseal only in small amounts. The other ingredients used in the manufacturing process weren’t found listed on the labels. Hence, check labels before making a purchase. Go for supplements only after consulting your health care provider. Ensure you procure the products from an established and authentic brand.
  • If you are currently taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications or have any health issues, check with your doctor before taking goldenseal.


Goldenseal has been used traditionally by Native Americans. This herbal ingredient has multiple benefits ranging from improving digestion to reducing cancer risk. It is available in different forms and is usually recommended for use for short periods. Consult your doctor before you go for goldenseal. Though it does have benefits, they also warrant further research.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Is goldenseal a natural antibiotic?

Goldenseal is considered a natural antibiotic. This ingredient, with echinacea, may fight many infectious pathogens and help promote the immune system.

Is goldenseal the same as turmeric?

Goldenseal, also known as orange root or yellow root, is different from turmeric. While both are beneficial in their own ways, turmeric seems to pose fewer risks.


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  2. Natural products in treatment of ulcerative colitis and peptic ulcer
  3. Dietary Amelioration of Helicobacter Infection
  4. Berberine containing quadruple therapy for initial Helicobacter pylori eradication
  5. The Efficacy of Berberine-Containing Quadruple Therapy on Helicobacter Pylori Eradication in China: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials
  6. Randomized controlled trial of berberine sulfate therapy for diarrhea due to enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli and Vibrio cholerae
  7. Herbal Therapy Is Equivalent to Rifaximin for the Treatment of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
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  11. Emerging Trends of Herbal Care in Dentistry
  12. Antimicrobial constituents from goldenseal (the Rhizomes of Hydrastis canadensis) against selected oral pathogens
  13. Protective effects of goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.) on acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity through inhibition of CYP2E1 in rats
  14. Natural therapeutics for urinary tract infections—a review
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  17. Antiviral activity of berberine
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  19. Immunomodulators Inspired by Nature: A Review on Curcumin and Echinacea
  20. Echinacea reduces the risk of recurrent respiratory tract infections and complications: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
  21. Anti-influenza activity of berberine improves prognosis by reducing viral replication in mice
  22. In vivo and in vitro antiviral effects of berberine on influenza virus
  23. Berberine: Botanical Occurrence Traditional Uses Extraction Methods and Relevance in Cardiovascular Metabolic Hepatic and Renal Disorders
  24. The medicinal plant goldenseal is a natural LDL-lowering agent with multiple bioactive components and new action mechanisms
  25. Efficacy of Berberine Alone and in Combination for the Treatment of Hyperlipidemia: A Systematic Review
  26. Application of Berberine on Treating Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
  27. Berberine in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systemic review and meta-analysis
  28. The alkaloid Berberine inhibits the growth of Anoikis-resistant MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell lines by inducing cell cycle arrest
  29. Laboratory studies of berberine used alone and in combination with 1.3-bis(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea to treat malignant brain tumors
  30. Herb-Drug Interactions: What the Science Says
  31. Pharmacokinetic herb-drug interactions (part 2): drug interactions involving popular botanical dietary supplements and their clinical relevance
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Sindhu Koganti is a Biotechnology graduate and has been in the writing field for over 4 years now. She specializes in writing on Health and Wellness. She has hands-on experience in writing articles and press releases on Life Sciences and Healthcare, Food and Beverages, and Chemicals and Materials. When she’s not writing, she loves watching movies and listening to music. She also enjoys traveling.