Scientific Name(s): Xanthorhiza simplicissima Marshall.
Common Name(s): Parsley-leaved yellow root, Shrub yellow root, Yellow root, Yellow wart
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Feb 14, 2023.
Yellow root has been used in folk medicine as a yellow dye and for multiple conditions, including mouth infections and sore throat, diabetes, and childbirth. Yellow root has also been used for its antibiotic, immunostimulant, anticonvulsant, sedative, hypotensive, uterotonic, and choleretic properties. However, clinical data are lacking regarding the use of yellow root to treat any condition.
There is no clinical evidence to support dosing recommendations for yellow root.
Contraindications have not been identified.
Avoid use during pregnancy. Berberine crosses the placenta, enters breast milk, and has been associated with jaundice and kernicterus in neonates.
None well documented.
Information is lacking; however, clinical trials using berberine report minor GI adverse effects.
The yellow root constituent berberine is generally considered nontoxic, with no genotoxic, cytotoxic, or mutagenic effects reported at clinical doses.
- Ranunculaceae (buttercup)
Yellow root (not to be confused with goldenseal [Hydrastis canadensis L.]), a shrub-like plant indigenous to the east coast of North America, grows from New York to Florida and is commonly found near stream banks and shady areas. It flowers in April and derives its name from the bright yellow color of the rhizome.Duke 2002, USDA 2016 A synonym is Zanthorhiza apiifolia.
One of the primary uses of yellow root by American Indians was as a natural source of yellow dye. Among other uses, yellow root has been used as a remedy for hypertension and diabetes, for mouth infections and sore throat, and to aid in childbirth.Duke 2002, Newall 1996
Berberine is the major alkaloid in yellow root, with the minor alkaloids jatrorhizine, mognoflorine, and puntarenine identified; the isoquinoline alkaloids liriodenine and palmatine have also been isolated. The berberine content in yellow root is estimated to range from 1.2% to 1.3%.Knapp 1967, Okunade 1994, Wu 1989
Uses and Pharmacology
Yellow root may exhibit properties similar to those of goldenseal and barberry because of the presence of berberine; however, limited experiments have been reported with X. simplicissima. See the Goldenseal and Barberry monographs.
In vitro and animal data
Antimicrobial activity has been described,(Okunade 1994) and in vitro inhibition of leukemia cell replication has been demonstrated.(Baker 1989)
Research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of yellow root for any condition. However, results from 2 low-quality controlled trials (one translated from Chinese to English via Google translate) reported significant within-group improvements in diastolic and/or systolic blood pressure with administration of berberine to adults with primary hypertension. Between-group comparisons were not reported. Dosage was 300 and 500 mg administered 3 times daily for 8 weeks and 3 months in patients with concomitant gout and newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes, respectively.(Suadoni 2020)
There is no clinical evidence to support dosing recommendations for yellow root. Doses of 0.5 to 1 tsp of the powdered root bark taken up to 3 times a day have been documented.Duke 2002 Yellow root may be used as an adulterant in goldenseal preparations.
Pregnancy / Lactation
Avoid use during pregnancy.Kumar 2015 The chemical constituent berberine crosses the placenta, is transferred through breast milk, and has been associated with jaundice and kernicterus in neonates.Kumar 2015
None well documented.
Information is lacking; however, clinical trials using berberine report minor GI adverse effects.Kumar 2015
A case report of toxicity after drinking yellow root tea for 2 years has been attributed to arsenic contamination.Parsons 1981 Information on X. simplicissima whole plant extract is lacking. Berberine is a naturally occurring active constituent in the root, rhizome, and stem bark of many medicinally important plants, with no genotoxic, cytotoxic, or mutagenic effects reported with clinical doses.Kumar 2015
- Zanthorhiza apiifolia
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