Hydrastis canadensis

Goldenseal - Hydrastis canadensis (in the Ranunculaceae or Buttercup family)

Parts used: Root.

Taste/smell: Bitter, astringent.

Tendencies: Cooling and drying.

Dosage: Decoction: 1 teaspoon per cup of water; or 1:4 dry or 1:1 fresh + dry liquid extract: 10-60 drops 1-4 times per day.

Mental picture and specific indications: Goldenseal is indicated for relaxed, atonic mucous membranes with thick yellowish secretions. It is useful for debilitated individuals with poor digestion and constipation. The tongue is atonic, slightly pallid, enlarged, scalloped at the edges, with slight yellow coating, ulcerations and fissures. The person feels depressed and hypersensitive and may have a dull frontal headache or sinus headache. The symptoms are worse with heat of the sun, bright lightsshining on the person, while stooping and with the sound of moving water.

Use: (a) Alterative, (b) Astringent, (c) Laxative in small doses, (d) Adrenolytic, (e) Styptic, (f) Bitter tonic, (g) Antimicrobial.

Goldenseal is used in colds, flu, sore throats, acute and chronic middle ear infections, conjunctivitis, vaginitis and a variety of other mucous membrane problems. It is used in atonic chronic mucosal problems with pale relaxed tissues as well as subacute mucosal membrane problems with red, engorged tissues. Small doses have a stimulating, tonifying effect upon the gastric tissues. It decreases passive bleeding. It also stimulates the normal action of the liver and gall bladder.

Goldenseal contains the alkaloids, berberine and hydrastine. Berberine, found in gold thread (Coptis chinensis), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) and Oregon grape root (Mahonia spp.), is a choleretic shown to triple bile secretion for 1.5 hours and is effective against bacteria, yeast and protozoa. Clinically, berberine has been used to treat giardia, cholera, amebiasis, as well as visceral and cutaneous leishmaniasis.

Contraindications: Goldenseal may exacerbate "adrenal burnout" symptoms such as hypoglycemia, shakiness and hypotension. The fresh plant may cause mucosal irritation. It is contraindicated in pregnancy due to uterine stimulation from berberine, hydrastine, canadine and hydrastinine in animal uteri studies, unless used under the guidance of a qualified health care practitioner. Goldenseal has become endangered. Only organic goldenseal should be used.

Copyright 1999 by Sharol Tilgner, N.D. (ISBN 1-881517-02-0) - all rights reserved.