Goldenseal | How to Use and What it’s For


Hydrastis canadensis Cherokee Indians introduced goldenseal to settlers. It was commonly used topically for eye and skin irritation and orally for infections. 

In modern times, it has been popular because of the belief that it can mask illicit drugs in a urine toxicology screen, however, this is not true. It is also an unproven cold remedy. It has proven effective as an antidiarrheal agent. 

goldenseal medicinal plant

Medicinal Uses

The medicinal properties of Goldenseal are due to berberine which has antibacterial and antifungal uses. However, once berberine is taken by mouth it may not be well absorbed.   

Digestive Health  

Goldenseal is used for diarrhea and constipation, but there isn’t any good scientific evidence to support these herbal remedies. 

Other medicinal plants that help with digestive health are Marshmallow root and leaf. They serve as antacids and encourage a healthy balance of gastric acid, which is needed for proper digestion. Peppermint, Motherwort, and Hyssop show benefits, too.  


People also use Goldenseal for the common cold and upper respiratory tract infections, but there aren’t many great studies to support this use. However, it may have some use for systemic infections and human immunodeficiency viruses. 

High Blood Pressure

Berberine is the active ingredient in Goldenseal and studies have shown that it helps to lower blood pressure and help with an irregular heartbeat. 

Other Uses

Other uses for Goldenseal as a medicinal plant include mucocutaneous irritation, cardiac and uterine contractility, vasoconstriction, central nervous system stimulation, and neonatal jaundice due to bilirubin displacement. 

A myth about Goldenseal is its use as an agent that masks illegal drugs in a urine test. This does not work. 

Potential Side Effects

Goldenseal is endangered and has a high risk of toxicity to many other plants which may cause adverse reactions. It is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women because it can cause severe harm to newborn babies. People with cardiovascular diseases, epilepsy, or coagulation problems should avoid this plant species.

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