Monthly Archives: March 2010
Many people have heard of the herb Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) but have little idea of the multitude of uses this versatile herb has. Goldenseal has been used throughout history as a medicinal herb, partly because of its amazing ability to stimulate the body’s own immunity. The bushy plant typically grows wild in rich soils. and has beautiful bright yellow flowers that produce a gorgeous red oil when infused. Goldenseal is now an endangered species due to excessive wild harvesting. It should therefore only be purchased from companies who grow it and who do not wildcraft it.
Please note that this information is shared for informational purposes only. None of these statements were reviewed by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition. Please check with your MD before taking any supplement.
Antibacterial and Antiviral
Goldenseal has been shown to have powerful antibacterial properties. Because it targets the mucous membranes, it is commonly used to address issues such as upper respiratory infections, dental infections, conjunctivitis, sinusitis, allergies, urinary tract infections, and bacterial diarrhea. It has even been shown to successfully combat the bacteria H Pylori which is thought to cause some forms of bacterial ulcers. Goldenseal is often described as having a “miraculous” effect on colds or flus that have lasted longer than they should. I can attest to Goldenseal’s effectiveness as an antibiotic, having recently used it to avoid needing a prescription antibiotic for an abscessed tooth and a root canal.
Goldenseal’s antibacterial properties make it wonderful to use topically on small wounds and cuts. It is known to be especially useful in preventing or addressing skin infection. Another benefit of Goldenseal is that it is a powerful styptic and can be used to stop bleeding in minor wounds. I again can personally verify its effectiveness on wounds. I used Goldenseal in ample amounts after wrecking my motorcycle two years ago, and had incredibly rapid healing with no infection. I also used it recently when I deeply gashed my finger but didn’t have a way to get to a mainstream medical facility for stitches. I poured Goldenseal powder (which I always keep on hand) over the cut and bound it tightly. The bleeding stopped in less than a minute. (I had been applying strong pressure to the wound for over 45 minutes with no luck.) The wound healed cleanly within a week without stitches, with no infection and with very minimal scarring. I was amazed at how little scarring occurred, as I tend to scar deeply and very easily.
Goldenseal is also known to have powerful antiviral effects which make it popular used internally against colds and flus. It is also commonly used to help with cold sores and herpes lesions when made into a tea and used as a gargle or topical wash. Goldenseal has the added benefit of being known for boosting the body’s own immunity, which makes it a great help in colds and flus.
Goldenseal is known to be a powerful ally against Candida overgrowth and other forms of fungal infection. Whether used internally or topically, Goldenseal is reported to curtail fungal growth very quickly. The trick with using Goldenseal for Candida is to keep the Candida confused so that it cannot adapt to the antiviral properties of Goldenseal. I use Goldenseal for two weeks and then use a different antifungal supplement for two weeks on a rotation basis.
Goldenseal has a long history of use as a digestive aid and a liver supporter. It is thought to stimulate the production of bile, which may make it helpful in digesting fats and as a general digestive aid. The fact it stimulates bile production makes it a popular choice for use in addressing potential liver and gallbladder issues. Goldenseal also has a strong reputation as a bitter herb that stimulates digestion and appetite.
Many herbalists recommend Goldenseal to people with diabetes because of its reputation of helping lower blood sugars and the belief that it has a stimulating effect on the beta cells of the pancreas. Goldenseal is a popular addition to many herbal products designed to help lower blood glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity and support the pancreas. I find that my blood glucose levels stay much lower when I use Goldenseal on a regular basis. It is most effective when used in combination with other herbs that support normal blood sugar levels.
Goldenseal has a very astringent effect when used topically, which makes it an excellent choice for topical use on hemorrhoids. It is also known to help alleviate inflammation in hemorrhoids and to have a soothing effect. Some people find that using it as a wash for acne is also very helpful. I find that using an infused oil of Goldenseal in my baths adds a wonderfully soothing touch and makes me feel very pampered.
1. Tinctures containing an alcohol-based extract of Goldenseal root. Herb Pharm makes one of my favorites: http://amzn.to/Qsmm80
2a. Capsules containing an extract of Goldenseal root.
2b. Capsules containing powdered, dried Goldenseal root. There are many on the market. I have come to rely on Nature’s Market as an over-the-counter brand providing reliable, high-quality herbs: http://amzn.to/QIdOLO
3. Teas containing dried Goldenseal root. Alvita carries a wide range of herbal tea bags: http://amzn.to/UFRKQb
When determining what form of Goldenseal to use, select the form you take the most consistently . For example, if you do not like the strong taste of a Goldenseal tincture (which does have a very strong flavor) and may not take it as frequently as needed because of the taste, then using a capsule form may be best. If you find swallowing capsules to be difficult, then a liquid tincture might be best. The powdered extract, which contains only the active chemical in Goldenseal, may or may not be more potent than the straight herb, depending on how many milligrams are delivered per serving. The author’s preference is to use the root in its entirety to ensure receiving the full potential of the herb’s beneficial qualities. There is some evidence that suggests that some of the chemicals in Goldenseal are not soluble in water but are readily soluble in alcohol.
1. Goldenseal should never be used by pregnant women or given to children under age two unless under the direction of a qualified practitioner.
2. People using the prescription medications Warfarin (Coumadin), protease inhibitors or cardiac glycosides should not use Goldenseal due to a potential interaction with these prescription medication.
3. Goldenseal can sometimes cause an imbalance in the bacterial balance of the digestive tract. It is therefore recommended to take a probiotic (acidophilus or other probiotic) when taking it long-term. If using Goldenseal on a short-term basis, most people take it for a period of 10-14 days, then take a break of one to two weeks, then resume taking it if needed.
4. People taking prescription antibiotics should refrain from taking Goldenseal within two hours of taking the prescription medication.
5. Some people with pre-existing hypertension have noticed higher blood pressures when taking Goldenseal for a prolonged period of time. Although this side effect is rare, it is wise to check blood pressures frequently if taking Goldenseal for more than two weeks.
6. Goldenseal may lose its effect if taken for a long period of time. For that reason, I typically recommend a “two weeks on, two weeks off” regimen when Goldenseal is needed for use over an extended period of time.
7. Diabetics who use Goldenseal should check blood glucose levels more frequently.
This explains why Goldenseal is one of my most favorite herbs!!!
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