11 Promising Benefits of Goldenseal

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

This little herb may not look powerful, but there are many health benefits of goldenseal, including the treatment and management of sinus conditions, bowel irregularity, nausea, sexually transmitted infections, inflammation, allergies, and fevers.

What is Goldenseal?

This perennial herb may commonly be called orangeroot or yellow puccoon in certain areas, but it is scientifically known as Hydrastis canadensis and belongs to the buttercup family. It is found in Canada and parts of the eastern United States but has also spread to some parts of Europe. Commonly identified by its knotty, yellow root, and purple stem, this plant has been an important part of traditional medicine in its native regions for thousands of years. The taste and smell of the herb are both considered very unpleasant or even acrid, yet it is considered a “super herb” by many, and the powdered rootstock is palatable. Native Americans used goldenseal root for different purposes, both culturally and medicinally, and also used its leaves and flowers. Modern research has supported the use of this herb for many ailments, given its rich chemical composition, including many alkaloids, which directly impact the body and its functions. [1]

Close-up image of goldenseal flower and leaves on a white background

Did you know that goldenseal was used extensively by Native American tribes of North America, both as a medicine and as a coloring material at the time of the European colonization? Photo Credit: Shutterstock

As a multi-purpose remedy, you can get it in many different forms, including salves, tablets, tinctures, and bulk powder, as well as goldenseal root supplements. It is important that you follow all relevant instructions from your herbalist or natural medicine provider. Only small amounts of powdered or concentrated goldenseal rootstock are necessary for most treatments, and excessive use can negatively impact the nervous system, even resulting in convulsions or seizures. [2]

Health Benefits of Goldenseal

Health benefits of goldenseal include:

Treats Bowel Irregularity

The most common remedies using goldenseal are for issues of the gut and gastrointestinal tract. If you suffer from ulcers or irregular bowel movements, the anti-inflammatory capacity of goldenseal can help you get your system back on track. Ulcers, constipation, bloating and cramping are not only annoying but can also hint at or lead to serious health conditions. Its rootstock can help keep your gut healthy and strong. [3]

Reduces Sinus Conditions

The powdered rootstock of goldenseal was often used as a form of snuff, and it acted to reduce inflammation and infection in the sinus cavities. The strong antimicrobial properties of goldenseal rootstock helped people quickly relieve sinus conditions and prevent ongoing illness with the use of this remedy. Now, the snuff form of goldenseal rootstock isn’t as commonly used, but the powdered form can still be purchased in capsule form. [4]

Anti-inflammatory Properties

If you suffer from topical inflammation or joint pain, then a salve or cream using goldenseal root powder can be a rapid and effective solution. A small amount of this powder is all you need and you can topically apply it on the skin. Capsules and supplements can also help with internal inflammation, including lowering blood pressure and soothing the gut. [5]

Skin Care

The antimicrobial and antioxidant properties of goldenseal make it very effective for people suffering from skin conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema, acne or dry skin. Skin infections come in many shapes and sizes, including bacterial, viral, and fungal, but topical salves and tinctures of goldenseal can quickly eliminate that inflammation and neutralize the infection. [6]

Antiviral Activity

If you suffer from a weak immune system, adding goldenseal to your daily or weekly health regimen can boost your immunity and keep your respiratory and intestinal system clean. Prostate and vaginal infections can be particularly difficult and painful to treat, but it has long been used to treat sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea. [7]

Eliminates Parasitic Issues

Parasitic worms are a major threat in places that don’t have access to clean water; the anthelmintic properties of goldenseal can help to starve the intestinal worms and cause them to die, where they will then be passed from the system via normal routes (it also acts as a laxative, making this elimination even easier). [8]

Boosts Appetite

Increasing your appetite often means an increase in your metabolism, as your body is burning calories faster. Also, following an illness, injury or trauma, one’s appetite can often suffer, causing more physical and psychological repercussions. Goldenseal has been linked to boosting appetite for generations. [9]

Prevents Allergy

Those who suffer from intense allergic reactions or are easily sent into a sneezing fit, as soon as spring comes around, may benefit from the anti-allergenic properties of goldenseal. The powder can reduce inflammation of the mucous membranes and prevent severe allergic reactions by calming the nervous system. [10]

Reduces Fever

While a fever does signal that the body is fighting off an infection, ongoing fevers can exhaust the body, cause dehydration, and even damage the brain in extreme cases. Goldenseal can effectively lower fevers and reduce the strain on the body during prolonged illnesses. [11]

Detoxifies the Body

Not only does goldenseal act as a laxative in many cases, but it is also a hepatic substance, meaning that it helps to clean out the blood and detoxify the body. The liver and kidneys do a whole lot of work for us and anything to make their jobs a bit easier is a good idea. The hepatic nature of goldenseal can help with circulation and reduce your risk of chronic blood-borne disease. [12]

How Much Goldenseal To Take?

There is no definite answer to this question as all the doses depend on your health condition. Also, there is not enough research for pregnant or breastfeeding women to take it. The best way to find out is to consult with your doctor.

Word of Caution: Goldenseal powder in its pure form is very strong and only very small amounts are needed for effective remedies. Excess use can cause nervous system issues, convulsions, seizures, and mental distress. Always follow your doctor or herbalist’s instructions for use, and consult a medical professional before adding any new, powerful herbal remedies to your health regimen.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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