- Indications with possible efficacy:
- Other indications with no proof of efficacy:
Acne - topically
Canker sores - topically
Conjunctivitis - topically, eyewash
Dyspepsia with hepatic symptoms
Gastritis, colitis and peptic ulcers
Itching and eczema - topically
Nasal congestion and inflammation of the respiratory tract
Sore gums - mouth-wash
Urinary tract infections
Wounds - topically
- Risk of Drug Interactions: Moderate
- Adverse Effects: Not Frequent
Parts of the plant used: rhizomes
Goldenseal is a perennial herb commonly found on the American continent. It is considered as an endangered plant because of overharvesting for medicinal use. Rhizomes contains alkaloids, such as hydrastine and berberine, which are believed to have medicinal properties. The herb is believed to have antimicrobial, immunostimulant, anticonvulsant, sedative, uterotonic, choleretic and vasoconstrictive properties. The herb's alkaloids are poorly absorbed when taken orally.
Direction of use
- Used doses:
Capsule - 0.5 to 1 gram of dried rhizome 3 times a day.
Tea - simmering 0.5 to 1 gram of dried rhizome in 150 ml of boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes.
Standardised extract containing 8% to 12% of alcaloids - 150 to 250 mg 2 to 4 times per day.
Mouthwash - 6 grams of dried herb in 150 ml of boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain and allow to cool.
- Side effects
When used appropriately, goldenseal dos not appear to cause any serious toxicity. Taking small doses (usual doses) is probably safe for most people. It may however cause mucosal irritation. People should avoid large doses and prolonged use. Large doses can be toxic in several regards: throat and mouth irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tingling sensation in the extremities. There were also reports of stimulant activity, respiratory failure, elevated arterial pressure and seizures.
Goldenseal is contraindicated in presence of jaundice. Berberine could increase bilirubin levels and exacerbate the disease.
Large doses of goldenseal appear to decrease the effect of anticoagulants. Before taking goldenseal, check with your pharmacist to make sure that there are no interactions with your regular medication.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Goldenseal is a uterine stimulant that can affect menstruation and induce uterine contractions. Pregnant women and those who wish to become pregnant should avoid this product. Because berberine is secreted in breast milk, lactating women should not use goldenseal.
- Goldenseal is a highly popular herb, but very few scientific data exist to support its use. Even though large doses may be toxic, usual doses rarely cause adverse effects.
In 2004, Canada adopted new regulations that control the manufacturing, packaging, labeling and importing of natural health products. The new regulations also include an adverse reaction reporting system. Products that conform to the regulation's criteria are identified with a natural product number (NPN) and can be legally sold in Canada. This number indicates that the product meets specific criteria for safety and purity, not that it is effective for any indication.
Medicinal plant contents vary naturally from plant to plant - just as fruits from the same package may vary in taste and texture. There is no standard to measure the active content of each plant. Thus, efficacy of natural products should be expected to vary from brand to brand as well as from bottle to bottle of the same brand.
For more information about the Natural Health Products Regulations, or to check if a product has been assessed, visit the Health Canada website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/index-eng.php.
- Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2010
- Facts and Comparisons, The Lawrence review of Natural Products, 2000
- Lexi-comp, Natural Therapeutics Pocket Guide, 2000-2001
- Barnes J. et Al. Herbal Medicines, 2nd edition, Pharmaceutical Press, 2002
- Pierce Andrea, Practical Guide to Natural Medicines, 1999
- Passeportsanté.net. Hydraste du Canada. www.passeportsante.net
- Rotblatt M. et Ziment I. Evidence-Based Herbal Medicine, Hanley & Belfus, 2002
- The Review of Natural Products, 6th Edition, 2010
- Health Canada, Natural Products Database
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The patient information leaflets are provided by Vigilance Santé Inc. This content is for information purposes only and does not in any manner whatsoever replace the opinion or advice of your health care professional. Always consult a health care professional before making a decision about your medication or treatment.