Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) – a bitter tonic to stimulate sluggish metabolism/liver function
Ethnobotany – Goldenseal
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) has been used from time immemorial by the North American Indians as a yellow dye and as a bitter tonic. The Cherokee call it Dalanei.
“The Indians dye their bright yellow with the root of a plant which might very well be called radix flava Americana. This root is generally from one to three inches long, and about one-half an inch in diameter, and sends out a great number of small filaments in every direction except upward; these filaments re as yellow as the body of the root itself, From the root there grows up a stalk about a foot from the ground, and at the top is one broad leaf. A red berry, in shape and size resembling a raspberry, but of a deeper red, grows on the top of the leaf. This berry is ripe in July. ”
The Cherokee Indians imparted the uses of Hydrastis to the settlers of America, and the drug was used by them as a domestic remedy and a dye from the earliest times, but did not attract the attention of the medical profession until the 19th century.
Traditionally it was (and still is) believed that it is crucial to not only heal one’s body, mind and spirit, but to re–integrate the ill person with the family, the community, and the Earth. This is a holistic perspectivebeyond our culture’s limited understanding. None of us can truly be well unless we recognize our connection to the rest of the Great Life.
Medicinal Properties of Goldenseal
“Goldenseal is a mucous membrane restorative tonic and a topical antimicrobial. Though it does kill bacteria very effectively, it is very poorly absorbed into the blood stream and does not act as an “herbal antibiotic” as it is said to. It is also a bitter tonic and can be used to stimulate sluggish metabolism/liver function.” (Jim McDonald)
Goldenseal is known for its antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, bitter tonic, cholagogue properties. Used for cuts, wounds, infections, bites, and stings. Goldenseal is also widely used internally for the treatment of sinus infections and other inflammations of the mucus membranes, including the stomach and intestinal tract. The medicinal part of the plant is the root.
Many combination formulas of other herbs use Goldenseal as it is reported to improve the potency of other herbs. Preparations have been marketed for the treatment of menstrual disorders, urinary infections, rheumatic and muscular pain and as an antispasmodic or as a cure to relieve the spasms commonly experienced by patients with epilepsy. Goldenseal Root powder is used to treat Urinary tract infections (UTIs), hemorrhoids, stomach upset, anorexia, stomach ulcers, colitis, menstrual irregularities, conjunctivitis, nasal congestion, hay fever, and many other conditions.
Berberine and hydrastine are alkaloids found in Goldenseal. They are attributed with the potency of the herb. Similar in action, berberine and hydrastine destroy many types of bacterial and viral infections. These alkaloids can also reduce gastric inflammation and relieve congestion. The alkaloid berberine is the bitter substance that makes the plant a good aid for digestion and as a sedative on the central nervous system.
Goldenseal – Long term use in chronic conditions (ie. Candida)
Xanthorhiza is milder than Hydrastis but is more appropriate for long term use. It is especially effective as a digestion/liver bitter for people with sluggish bowels, a tendency towards emorrhoids and faulty fat digestion. Mixed with fresh black walnut hull extract and spilanthes, yellow root is an effective treatment for local (thrush, vaginal candidiasis) and systemic candidiasis.
Goldenseal for stubborn infections
The tea makes a soothing gargle for strep throat, apthous stomatata, ulcerated mucus membranes, herpes, and pyorrhea. Externally it is useful for conjunctivitis. bedsores, bleeding hemorrhoids, ringworm, and athletes foot.
How to use Goldenseal
Root tea: 1–2 tsp. dried root to 8 oz. of water. Decoct 10 minutes, steep 1 hour. Drink 2 cups per day. (Effective, but tasting so bad as to be near undrinkable.)
Tincture (liquid extract): 5-15 drops, up to three times a day or more frequently if specifically indicated.
Capsules: Not ideal, but useful for bacterial GI infections. Probably best mixed with other herbs than used on its own.
Topical: Use a tea as a compress for infected ulcerations, or cuts. You can also apply the powdered herb to shallow, clean wounds to speed healing. To damp wounds with marshmallow or slippery elm powder. Likewise, it can be used in salves.
Nasal Rinse: for sinus infections, you can make a weak tea of goldenseal, strain through a coffee filter, and add 1/4 heaping teaspoon of salt per cup of tea and use this in a nasal spray bottle or neti pot. You can also add 10-20 drops of the tincture to a saline solution (same proportions as the previously mentioned, but using water instead of tea).
I found a great Goldenseal salve recipe here.