Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), is a member of the Ranunculaceae family. Goldenseal is a perennial which grows in the wild from Georgia to Canada. The plant grows from a yellowish root and forms a hairy stem with five-parted leaves, green white flowers with no petal and a fruit which resembles a raspberry. In the 19th century, the expansion of farming lands and the popularity of its medicinal properties among the untimely settlers and Native American Indians led the plant to become an endangered species.
It is now cultivated and its high price and demand may result in debased products. As a result of the imperiled status of goldenseal, a handful of environmentally conscious supplement companies have taken the position of substituting other berberine-containing herbs for goldenseal in their immune support formulas. Other plants which contain comparatively high concentrations of Berberine (the alkaloid thought to contribute to the immune-stimulating effect of Goldenseal) include Goldenthread (Coptis chinensis), Oregon Grape (Berberis aquifolium), Barberry (Berberis vulgaris), and Tree Turmeric (Berberis aristata).
Goldenseal is generally sold in combination with echinacea as a nonspecific immune booster. Goldenseal root has a status for being a "natural antibiotic." Native American groups used it topically for inflammation, and it has been used in folk medicine as an eyewash and a rinse or gargle to disembarrass sore mouth, sore throat, canker sores, or thrush. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid using goldenseal. The berberine in the herb may cause the uterus to contract, increasing the risk of premature labor or miscarriage. Goldenseal should not be given to infants and young children.
Goldenseal have various alkaloids in its roots, stems and leaves that are believed to be the active components: hydrastin (4%), berberine (6%) and canadine. Berberine obsessed some antibacterial activity by either directly killing bacteria or preventing bacterial attachment to the cell walls of the host, as well as some antioxidant properties and smooth muscle relaxation effects. Goldenseal is generally regarded safe – but it should not be used during pregnancy or lactation and should be avoided by individuals with high blood pressure or other cardiovascular diseases.
Goldenseal contains hydrastine and berberine that give it antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, alternative laxative and tonic attributes. It has been culturally used for such ailments as eye inflammations, cancer, high blood pressure, skin and liver diseases. Goldenseal is often available in combination with Echinacea and is claimed to help in the treatment of upper respiratory infections. Yeast infections can be treated by mixing 3 cups of water and 1-1/2 teaspoons of powdered goldenseal root in a blender. The mixture is then used as a douche several times a day until the complication is cleared up.
Goldenseal is also being used by alternative care doctors and holistic healers who use several preparations of this and other herbs to treat drug addictions. People suffering from heart conditions, bleeding abnormalities, and epilepsy are advised to avoid goldenseal because of its potential to cause serious antagonistic reactions.