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) has been used for centuries as a wonder herbal remedy. It is native to North America. The health benefits of goldenseal can be attributed to its berberine content, which is a natural alkaloid. Berberine has antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Goldenseal is known to help improve digestion, promote oral health, treat eye problems, and potentially prevent urinary tract infections. It may also help treat common cold among other respiratory tract infections. Here, we discuss the potential health benefits of goldenseal, its dosage, and any possible side effects you must be wary of. Read on.
In This Article
9 Potential Health Benefits Of Goldenseal
1. May Help Improve Digestion
Goldenseal has been used by Native Americans to treat digestive upsets like diarrhea (1). Its anti-ulcerogenic effects help fight Helicobacter pylori, the microbes that cause ulcers by disrupting your stomach lining (2) ( 3). Goldenseal also contains berberine which has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for treating diarrhea (4) (5). 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 (6).
Berberine also has the efficacy to treat small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) (7). 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 which are known to cause gastric disease (8).
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 (9). 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 ( 10). The mouth rinse acted against several oral pathogens responsible for dental plaque and sore gums.
4. May Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
The bacterial overgrowth in the inner walls of the bladder can cause several urinary tract infections (UTIs). Goldenseal has been used in folk medicine for treating urinary disorders (12). Berberine can act against E.coli and Proteus species of bacteria by keeping these from adhering to the cells in the urinary tract (13).
An excessive growth of fungi, like Candida albicans, may also cause genitourinary tract and vaginal yeast infections (14). 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 recurrence (15).
5. Helps Treat Herpes
Goldenseal, when combined with thyme and myrrh, may help treat oral herpes (10). The berberine in goldenseal may also exhibit antiviral activity against herpes viruses (16). 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 ( 17). As per research, Echinacea may help in the treatment of respiratory tract infections and inflammatory conditions like cold, cough, and bronchitis (18). In another study, echinacea’s immuno-modulatory, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties were found to help lower recurrent respiratory tract infections (19).
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 (20). Berberine also inhibits influenza-induced viral pneumonia (21). 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 (22). Goldenseal is also known to lower LDL cholesterol naturally (23).
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% ( 24).
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 (25). It helps lower blood glucose levels. Another study suggests that berberine could be effective in treating high blood sugar in type 2 diabetes (26). 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 (27). 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 (28). 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 (29). 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 (30).
- 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.
The benefits of goldenseal benefits are wide-ranging. It can improve digestion, help in managing eye problems, improve oral health, and prevent urinary tract infections. It also helps in treating herpes, the common cold, and upper respiratory tract infections. Additionally, it improves heart health, aids in treating diabetes, and reduces the risk of cancer. It can be included in your diet in the form of dried powder, capsules, and tea. Although the consumption of goldenseal is generally safe, it may cause negative effects like nausea or vomiting in some people. It may also interact with certain drugs. Hence, caution is advised. However, taking it in moderation helps in reaping its benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if you take goldenseal every day?
It is considered safe to consume goldenseal at the recommended dosages for short periods. But according to anecdotal evidence, the long-term dosage can cause digestive or nervous system problems.
Is goldenseal good for your skin?
Possibly. According to anecdotal reports, goldenseal’s anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties may help deal with acne and psoriasis.
Can goldenseal raise blood pressure?
Possibly not. Goldenseal contains berberine that may help lower blood pressure. However, further studies are required to elucidate its mechanism of action and potency (27).
Is goldenseal the same as ginseng?
No. While both are roots packed with beneficial compounds, goldenseal has a strict dosage regime, but ginseng can be taken daily.
- Goldenseal is known for its antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.
- This North American plant was traditionally used for cold, eye infection, and sore gums.
- Studies suggest that this herb may help check bacteria that cause gastric, urinary tract diseases and more.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women must avoid consuming it.
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