Today is the fourth installment in my ten-part natural immune booster series. It started when my curiosity was piqued while reading a list of ten natural immune boosters. I just had to research each one and share my findings with you. I’ve already covered coconut oil, oil of oregano, and manuka honey. Today, I’m sharing with you what I’ve learned about goldenseal, one of the most popular herbs sold in the United States.
Disclaimer: I am NOT a medical practitioner of any kind, and this series of articles on natural immune boosters is not intended to diagnose or attempt to cure any disease. This series is for informational purposes only. If you have a medical condition, please see your medical practitioner for professional advice.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) is a perennial herb that is native to southeastern Canada and the eastern United States. Unfortunately, most of the goldenseal sold now is grown on farms because wild sources have become rather scarce. (So, please don’t dig up any you find in the wild!) The part of the plant used for medicinal purposes is the root.
This herb has a long history of traditional medicinal uses. The Native Americans used it to treat a number of ailments and disorders, including skin ailments, digestive problems, diarrhea, liver conditions, and eye irritations. The Native Americans taught the European settlers the uses of goldenseal, and they incorporated goldenseal into Colonial medicinal treatments.
Although there have been very few human clinical trials done with goldenseal, there have been many studies done in the lab; and the results are promising. (See my reference links below for more information.) Science may have a way to go to clinically document the effectiveness of traditional treatments using goldenseal, but herbal medical practitioners seem to be following in the treatment footsteps of our native denizens.
Goldenseal is a bitter, an herb that stimulates the secretion and flow of bile and increases digestive enzymes. This action regulates a healthy liver and spleen. Goldenseal is a strong antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic.
The roots and rhizomes of goldenseal contain many isoquinoline alkaloids, including hydrastine, berberine, canadine, canadaline, and l-hydrastine. This high content of alkaloids is what gives goldenseal its antibiotic, anti-infective, and immune stimulating qualities.
The most active alkaloid in goldenseal is berberine. This is the ingredient that most likely gives the herb its effectiveness against bacteria, protozoa, and fungi. It promotes the easier removal of bacteria by inhibiting their ability to stick to tissue surfaces (like Teflon for the immune system 😉 ). Berberine may also activate white blood cells, strengthening the immune system.
Laboratory studies have shown that goldenseal is a strong anti-diarrheal, effective against E. coli (“Montezuma’s Revenge”), shigella dysenteriae (shigellosis), salmonella paratyphi (food poisoning), giardia lamblia (giardiasis), and vibro cholerae (cholera).
Some of the uses of goldenseal are:
- infections of mucus membranes
- minor wound healing (used as a wash)
- fungal skin infections (used as a powder)
- bladder infections, UTIs
- colds and flu
- canker sores (used as a mouth rinse)
- sinus and chest congestion
- peptic ulcers (H. pylori infections), gastritis, colitis
- hemorrhoids (used as an astringent)
- earaches & conjunctivitis (used as drops)
- gum infections and sore throats (used as a gargle)
Goldenseal is generally considered safe for short term use. However, please first consult a medical professional if you are taking any prescription medications or have any medical conditions. Also, never take more than 1/2 to 1 gram of goldenseal more than 3 times/day. If taken in large quantities, it can overstimulate the nervous system and cause convulsions, miscarriage, and excessive buildup of white blood cells.
WARNING: Goldenseal is not for children or infants, breast-feeding women, pregnant women (the berberine causes uterine contractions and increased levels of bilirubin), or people with high blood pressure. If you have a heart condition, please consult your doctor before taking goldenseal.
When taken properly and under the care of a medical practitioner, goldenseal is another great natural immune booster.
For further information on goldenseal, please visit these sites which I read in preparation for this post:
- Goldenseal Health Benefits (discusses many scientific studies)
- Goldenseal Benefits
- The Many Medicinal Goldenseal Benefits
- Goldenseal Benefits and Side Effects
- Drugs.com Guide: Goldenseal
MORE IN THE NATURAL IMMUNE BOOSTER SERIES:
- Coconut Oil
- Oil of Oregano
- Manuka Honey
- Tea Tree Oil
- Colloidal Silver