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Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • Berberastine, berberine, berberine bisulfate, canadine, curcuma, eye balm, eye root, golden root, goldensiegel, goldsiegel, ground raspberry, guldsegl, hydrastine, Hydrastis rhizoma, hydrophyllum, Indian dye, Indian paint, Indian plant, Indian turmeric, isoquinoline alkaloids, jaundice root, Kanadische Gelbwurzel (German), kurkuma, Ohio curcuma, orange root, Ranunculaceae (family), sello de oro (Spanish), tumeric root, warnera, wild curcuma, wild turmeric, yellow eye, yellow Indian plant, yellow paint, yellow paint root, yellow puccoon, yellow root, yellow seal, yellow wort.
  • Note: Goldenseal is sometimes referred to as "Indian turmeric" or "curcuma," but it should not be confused with turmeric (Curcuma longa). Goldenseal contains berberine , an alkaloid constituent in goldenseal, so it is mentioned in this monograph, but a separate monograph is available on this topic.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Goldenseal has been reported as one of the top-selling herbal products in the United States. However, little scientific evidence regarding its efficacy or toxicity is available. It may be found in dietary supplements, eardrops, feminine cleansing products, cold and flu remedies, allergy remedies, laxatives, and digestive aids. Goldenseal is often found in combination with echinacea in treatments for upper respiratory infections, and it is suggested that it enhances the effects of echinacea; however, the effects when these agents are combined are scientifically unproven. Goldenseal preparations have also been used popularly due to the assertion that detection of illicit drugs in urine may be masked by use of the herb, although data are scant in this area.
  • The popularity of goldenseal has led to a higher demand for the herb than cultivation is able to supply. This high demand has led to the substitution of other isoquinoline alkaloid-containing herbs, including Chinese goldthread (Coptis chinensis) and Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium); these do not contain exactly the same isoquinoline alkaloids and consequently may not share the same activity as goldenseal (1).
  • Efficacy studies regarding goldenseal are largely limited to one of its main constituents, berberine salts, and there are few published clinical studies evaluating the use of goldenseal itself in humans. Due to the small amount of berberine actually available from goldenseal preparations (0.5-6%), it is difficult to extrapolate the available evidence regarding berberine salts to the use of goldenseal. Thus, there is insufficient scientific evidence to support the use of goldenseal in humans for any indication. Promising evidence suggests possible benefits in patients with chronic heart failure; however, additional high-quality clinical research is needed in this area.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.