GoldenSeal – Herbs For Alternative Medicine


Goldenseal is a small perennial with white flowers and red berries.  Herbalists use the herb to treat several respiratory and skin infections. Its active ingredient is berberine, which acts as an antimicrobial and can help fight infection.

Claims and Common Uses:

  • Has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties
  • Useful in the treatment of indigestion and loss of appetite
  • Potent hypotensive properties
  • Promotes functioning capacity of the liver, pancreas, spleen, lymphatic and respiratory systems
  • Useful as a mouthwash in the prevention and/or treatment of gum irritation, gum disease, and canker sores
  • Beneficial for infectious diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, ulcers, liver cirrhosis, inflammation of the gallbladder, gastritis, gallstones, jaundice, sinusitis, laryngitis, sore throat, ear infections, reducing blood pressure and postpartum uterine bleeding, and vaginal yeast infections
  • Cleanses mucus membranes
  • Exerts beneficial effects in cancer therapy
  • It may prevent the common cold, flu or sore throat from developing
  • Used topically for its anti-septic properties in the treatment of eczema, ringworm, contact dermatitis, athlete’s foot, and impetigo
  • An infusion of the roots is made into a wash for sore eyes

Part Used: Rhizome and root


The dry root is available in bulk, capsules, tincture, fluid and solid extracts. Alcohol-free extract is the best form of this herb.

  • Tea: Pour 1 cup boiling water onto 2 tsp. goldenseal; steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink three times daily.
  • For a skin wash, mix with distilled witch hazel
  • Can be made into a poultice and applied directly to the abscess

Side Effects and Warnings of Goldenseal:

Goldenseal is a potent plant and must be used with care.

  • Do not take on a daily basis for more than a week at a time.
  • Eating the fresh plant can cause inflammation of the mucous tissue
  • In high doses, goldenseal can irritate the skin, mouth, throat, and vagina. If any of these develop, stop taking immediately
  • High doses may cause nausea and diarrhea. If any of these develop, stop taking immediately.  High doses may also cause CNS stimulation and respiratory failure
  • Do not use during pregnancy; it may stimulate the uterus
  • Do not use goldenseal without consulting a physician if you have had heart disease, diabetes, glaucoma, a stroke, or high blood pressure. It stimulates the heart muscle, and the result is increased blood pressure
  • Do not give goldenseal to children under two. Start with small doses for older children and adults
  • High doses may interfere with vitamin B metabolism