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What is goldenseal?
Goldenseal is a small herb with a single stem, two five-lobed,
jagged-edged leaves, small flowers, raspberry-like fruit and
a bright, yellow-brown root. It was originally introduced
to American settlers by Native American tribes, who used it
to dye clothing and as a wash for skin diseases, sore eyes
and colds. In recent years, it has been overharvested to the
point that it is now a threatened species. Although commercial
cultivation has relieved some of the problem, it is still
Why do we need goldenseal? What
is it used for?
Goldenseal contains a compound called berberine, which has
been shown to kill many of the bacteria that cause diarrhea.
Berberine has also been shown to kill germs that cause yeast
infections and parasites such as tapeworms.
Goldenseal has a variety of applications, especially for
digestive conditions. It may be useful in fighting gastric
and enteric inflammations; urinary infections; respiratory
infections; and constipation. Externally, it can be used to
reduce inflammation of the mucous membranes; skin fissures
and ulcers; and as a lotion to stop excess sweating.
How much goldenseal should I take?
The amount of goldenseal taken depends on the condition it
is being used for. For general inflammation, goldenseal can
be taken in doses from 500-2,000 milligrams up to three times
a day. To disinfect cuts and scrapes, goldenseal extract can
be used with a clean, wet cloth. For other cases of irritation,
goldenseal powder can be used in conjunction with salt and
What forms of goldenseal are available?
Goldenseal is available (in various concentrations) in both
capsule and tablet form. It is also available in alcoholic
tinctures and low-alcohol extracts.
What can happen if I take too much
goldenseal? Are there any interactions I should be aware of?
What precautions should I take?
Large doses of goldenseal may interfere with the bodys
ability to absorb B vitamins. If used for an extended period
of time, goldenseal can irritate the skin and can reduce the
amount of some types of digestive bacteria, which can lead
to nausea and diarrhea. Pregnant women and patients with a
history of high blood pressure should not take goldenseal.
As always, consult with your health practitioner before taking
goldenseal or any other herbal product.
Other Resources :
More You Know About Nutrition
Balch J, Balch P. Prescription for
Nutritional Healing: A-to-Z Guide to Drug-Free Remedies Using
Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs, & Food Supplements. New
York, NY: Avery Publishing Group; 1990.
Foster S. Goldenseal. American Botanical Council:
Botanical Series No. 309.
Khin-Muang-U, Myo-Khin, Nyunt-Nyunt-Wai, et al. Clinical
trial of berberine in acute watery diarrhea. Br Med J
Rabbani GH, Butler T, Knight J, et al. Randomized controlled
trial of berberine sulfate therapy for diarrhea due to enterotoxigenic
escherichia coli and vibrio cholerae. J Infect
Dis 1987; 155:979-84.
Swanston-Flatt SK, et al. Evaluation of traditional
plant treatments for diabetes: studies in streptozotocin diabetic
mice. Acta Diabetol Lat 1989;26:5155.