Herbal Remedy: Goldenseal

February 1, 2012
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GoldensealWe often hear about goldenseal in combination with echinacea. But goldenseal is a powerful herb in its own right, useful in treating everything from digestive upset to canker sores. 

Goldenseal commonly grows in southeastern Canada and the northeastern United States, and was commonly used by Native American tribes, and later by European settlers, in the US. It is now available as a pill, tincture, tea or salve. Goldenseal is considered to be “endangered,” as it has been overly harvested, so look to Pharmaca for goldenseal products that have been sustainably harvested to prevent further endangerment.

Goldenseal has many practical uses, including, but not limited to the following:

  • For upper respiratory infections; specifically compromised mucous membranes in the respiratory tract. Goldenseal assists in drying the mucous membranes, especially when you have yellow/green phlegm.
  • Speeds healing of canker sores and ulcers in the mouth and throat
  • Aids internal digestion, including dyspepsia, chronic constipation, protracted fevers, chronic alcoholism and liver congestion
  • Boosts the effectiveness of other herbs in a formula (why you often see it in combination with echinacea)
  • As an antimicrobial that’s especially good at killing bacteria like Staph and Strep infections—making it ideal for systemic colds, flu and sore throats.
  • As a topical antimicrobial, making it good for use as a topical salve on infections
  • Helps ease contractions during labor

I like the following forms of goldenseal:

Herb Pharm Goldenseal (tincture)
Gaia Herbs’ Plaintain Goldenseal Salve or Goldenseal Root (tincture)
Pharmaca’s Goldenseal capsules or Goldenseal Extract (tincture)

Note: Goldenseal should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation, as well as with elevated blood pressure, and should be used with caution in young children. Goldenseal is also known to be a cooling herb, so avoid it if you have chills more than a fever. As always, consult a qualified health practitioner before use if you are on any medications or concerns.

Kate Brainard attended Bastyr University’s doctorate program in Naturopathic Medicine. She currently manages Pharmaca’s La Jolla store.

Creative Commons License photo credit: buckeye98