The benefits of goldenseal root (and leaves) are many, including antibiotic properties, cramps, general inflammation, and UTIs. Discover some of the research behind these uses here.
Common Name: Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
Native to North America. Parts used: leaf and root.
My Experience With Goldenseal:
Goldenseal benefits: I use this herb mainly for its antibiotic properties. I usually couple it with uva ursi as an effective deterrent against coughs, colds, infections, and for kidney/urinary health. It also helps with dysmenorrhea and mid-cycle bleeding, and with chronic inflammation. I began using it as a potential helper for my chronic Lyme with it’s antibiotic properties, and after a herx reaction it did seem to help my chronic Lyme symptoms.
There is little data to support the use of goldenseal in the treatment of UTI. However, goldenseal root benefits include antimicrobial purposes. A study of goldenseal extract demonstrated in vitro activity against a number of common urinary pathogens2; however, in vivo studies have not been reported. Flavonoids present in goldenseal have been posited to act synergistically with berberine.3, 1
The dosage on my Bulk Supplements package is about 500mg daily, and I stay between 500-700mg daily. I use it for no more than 3 consecutive weeks, as even though it’s great for digestion it can cause digestive issues if taken for too long. I typically see all goldenseal benefits with as little as 1/8 tsp per day for up to 3 weeks (usually only a couple days).
Antibiotic: the benefits of goldenseal include antibiotic properties, which is why this is my main herb for Lyme. It’s also good for bladder infections and UTIs when paired with uva ursi.
Kidney stress for horses: this is my go-to when my horse starts showing signs of kidney stress from his muscle disorder.
Goldenseal Root Benefits For Horses and Pets:
For my horse, I use Goldenseal root powder and Uva Ursi together in the same doses I use for myself, usually when he has bloody urine or other signs of kidney stress (he has a muscle disorder, and kidney stress is common with these horses). I couple them with parsley, burdock and other kidney helping herbs and it pulls him out of symptoms in less than a week!
As always, take care when adding herbal supplements to an animal’s ration – they can’t always tell us when something doesn’t agree with them! If you’d like to learn more about my horse with Polysaccharide Muscle Myopathy, or PSSM, see my Jax’s Story site.
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Other Goldenseal Benefits:
- Liver health hepatoprotective effects from acetaminophen-induced liver failure 2
- Anti-Inflammatory and Antimicrobial 4
- Digestive disorders 4
- Skin infections 4
- “The rhizome of this plant has been used for the treatment of a variety of diseases including, gastrointestinal disorders, ulcers, muscular debility, nervous prostration, constipation, skin and eye infections, cancer, among others.” 4
- Upper respiratory infections 5
DIY Goldenseal Tea
Goldenseal is incredibly bitter – I use 1/4 teaspoon of powdered goldenseal in my tea, but I’ve never tried true goldenseal tea. The first drink of any tea with this powdered herb included is bitter, but since it floats to the top, you usually get all of it in that first drink, thankfully. I’d think benefits of true goldenseal tea would be amazing, but I’m not sure I could handle the taste, so I’ll stick with my DIY Goldenseal tea!
As with many herbs, too much can affect the liver. Long-term use over 3 weeks can cause digestive upset and diarrhea due to antibiotic activities, so care is needed.
Don’t use if you’re pregnant or breast feeding. Talk to your doctor if you’re taking medications.
Where To Purchase:
Note: I earn a commission on some links, at no cost to you. Purchasing through these links is a great way to support this site!
I purchase my Goldenseal powder through two sources, both of which are very fine powder and great for mixing in my morning tea (warning, the first drink of goldenseal tea can be bitter, as it floats to the top!):
Bulk Supplements’ Goldenseal has no sugar, soy, dairy, yeast, gluten, or other additives. This is the company I use for pea protein, and bulk herbs in larger amounts, etc. Some of my herbs, like cissus quadrangularis, can be found here when MRH doesn’t carry them.
Goldenseal is in danger of being over-harvested, and there are other options such as Barberry that contain Berberine and have similar properties to this wonderful but endangered herb. Therefore use of other berberine-containing herbs should be considered, as should planting your own wild plants if you have the right conditions for them.
I recently joined and purchased some Goldenseal rhizomes and Ginseng seeds from United Plant Savers (they’re not always available, but become a member and check often if you’re interested in Forest Farming!) and have them in pots in my house – I intend to plant them in my shaded/wooded sections of my yard to both give me a sustainable source of Goldenseal, and to help repopulate these amazing plants back into our ecosystem.
Research Articles and Sources:
- Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
- Protective effects of goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.) on acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity through inhibition of CYP2E1 in rats – In this study, the hepatoprotective effects of goldenseal were not dose dependent. It has been reported that APAP-induced ALF is associated with the immune response. Furthermore, goldenseal may enhance immune function. Therefore, it is likely that the immunostimulatory action of a high dose of goldenseal may, at least in part, play a role in reducing the hepatoprotective effect.
- Quorum Quenching and Antimicrobial Activity of Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) – Collectively, our results demonstrate that H. canadensis leaf extracts contain several classes of constituents that act against MRSA with different mechanisms. Such a mixture would be expected to demonstrate better efficacy than its components alone in the treatment or prevention of MRSA [Staphylococcus aureus] infections, by virtue of its ability to target the pathogen via multiple pathways.
- Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.) and its active constituents: A critical review of their efficacy and toxicological issues – The goldenseal extract containing berberine showed numerous therapeutic effects such as antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, hypolipidemic, hypoglycemic, antioxidant, neuroprotective (anti-Alzheimer’s disease), cardioprotective, and gastrointestinal protective. Various research finding suggest the health promoting effects of goldenseal components and their extracts. However, few studies have also suggested the possible neurotoxic, hepatotoxic and phototoxic activities of goldenseal extract and its alkaloids. Thus, large randomized, double-blind clinical studies need to be conducted on goldenseal supplements and their main alkaloids to provide more evidence on the mechanisms responsible for the pharmaceutical activity, clinical efficacy and safety of these products.
- Exposure Data: Some Drugs and Herbal Products – Today, the main application of H. canadensis is for the prevention and treatment of skin disorders, dyspepsia, gastritis, peptic ulcer, colitis, anorexia, menorrhagia, dysmenorrhoea, sinusitis, mucosal inflammation, and other inflammatory conditions or infectious diseases.
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