Medically reviewed on June 7, 2018
What is Goldenseal?
Goldenseal is a perennial herb found in the rich woods of the Ohio River Valley and other locations in the northeastern United States. The single, green-white flower, which has no petals, appears in the spring on a hairy stem above a basal leaf and 2 palmate, wrinkled leaves. The flower develops into a red-seeded berry. The plant grows from horizontal, bright yellow rhizomes, which have a twisted, knotty appearance.
Hydrastis canadensis L. Family: Ranunculaceae (buttercups)
Goldenseal is also known as yellowroot, orangeroot, eyebalm, eyeroot, goldenroot, ground raspberry, Indian turmeric, yellow puccoon, jaundice root, Radix Hydrastis, sceau d'or
What is it used for?
Goldenseal root was used medicinally by American Indians of the Cherokee, Catawba, Iroquois, and Kickapoo tribes as an insect repellent, a diuretic, a stimulant, and a wash for sore or inflamed eyes. It was used to treat arrow wounds and ulcers, as well as to produce a yellow dye. Early settlers learned of these uses from American Indians and the root found its way into most 19th century pharmacopeias. The Eclectic medical movement, a branch of American medicine incorporating biobotanical elements and popular in the late 19th century, was particularly enthusiastic in its adoption of goldenseal for gonorrhea and urinary tract infections.
Traditional uses of goldenseal are not supported by clinical studies, although it may be of use in diabetes, lipid disorders, heart/blood vessel conditions, and cancer.
What is the recommended dosage?
Few well-controlled clinical trials are available to guide dosage for goldenseal root extract. Recommended dosages vary considerably: 250 mg to 1 g 3 times daily. Some product labeling suggests higher dosages. Traditional dosages include 0.5 to 1 g dried rhizomes 3 times daily, and 0.3 to 1 mL 1:1 liquid extract in 60% ethanol 3 times daily.
None well defined.
Avoid use; activity as a uterine stimulant has been documented. Safety in breast-feeding has not been established.
Goldenseal may affect the enzymes involved in drug metabolism.
Information from clinical studies is lacking, but adverse reactions with common doses are rare. Very high doses of goldenseal may rarely induce nausea, anxiety, depression, seizures, or paralysis.
Toxicological concerns have been reported, with some evidence of cancer in rodents.