Hydrastis canadensis


Goldenseal is named for the golden-yellow scars on the base of the plant’s stem. It has for centuries been used medicinally by the Cherokee, Iriquois and other native American people to treat conditions ranging from insect bites, wounds and eye infections to bloating, stomachaches and gastro-intestinal disorders. Today, goldenseal’s overall effect on the immune system has gained it official recognition as a medical remedy in 11 countries.

Parts used

The dried root.


The prime active ingredients in goldenseal are the alkaloids berberine and hydrastine, which appear to fight bacterial and fungal infections in the body.

Medicinal uses

The berberine in goldenseal can prevent Escherichia coli bacteria from binding to the lining of the urinary tract. Goldenseal may also lower blood pressure, improve irregular heartbeat and lower ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol and is recommended in the treatment of fungal infections such as candida. Doctors around the world recommend goldenseal to help soothe the symptoms of colds, flu and allergies. It is also recommended as part of a detox regime.

Goldenseal is prescribed to:

  • Strengthen the immune system.
  • Fight infections such as colds and flu and soothe inflamed sinuses.
  • Help treat upper respiratory tract infections.
  • Reduce blood pressure and irregular heartbeat.
  • Reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol in the blood.
  • May reduce blood sugar levels.
  • Promote recovery from fungal infections.
  • Help cleanse the lymphatic system and flush out toxins.
  • May treat eye infections.
  • May relieve diarrhoea caused by bacterial organisms.


Talk to your medical practitioner before taking any herbal supplements.
Goldenseal has few reported side effects when taken in the prescribed dosage. Prolonged use may cause deficiencies in the B group of vitamins. High doses may cause raised or reduced heartbeat, nervousness, nausea, flu-like symptoms and a range of other conditions. Avoid if you have ulcers. Goldenseal may interact with medications to treat blood pressure or to thin blood, drugs with a sedative effect, oral contraceptives and certain antibiotics. Do not take while pregnant or breastfeeding. As always, consult your medical practitioner before embarking on a course of natural remedies.

Flora Force Products containing Goldenseal

Domestic & culinary uses

There appear to be no records of goldenseal being used for culinary purposes.


Goldenseal is a perennial herb indigenous to south-eastern Canada and the north-eastern United States. The plant is in serious danger of extinction due to deforestation and overharvesting, and wild goldenseal is listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Photo credits

  1. By Hagerty Ryan, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Information in our herb library is intended only as a general reference for further exploration. It is not a replacement for professional health advice and does not provide complete dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription medicines. Accordingly, this information should only be used under the direct supervision of a suitably qualified health practitioner such as a registered homeopath, naturopath or phytotherapist.