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Goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis) is a plant native to the woods of North America. Although its supposed benefits are largely unproven, goldenseal has become a popular supplement in some parts of the world.

Herbal remedies sold in the UK have to be registered with the medicines regulator MHRA. The traditional herbal registration (THR) scheme does not mean the products have been found to work, but it does mean herbal remedies have been assessed for quality, safety and manufacturing standards. There is currently no THR registration for goldenseal.

Goldenseal uses

On the whole, goldenseal has not been well researched. Some laboratory studies have found that a chemical in goldenseal - berberine - may have some effect on bacteria, inflammation and even cancer cells. However, it’s not clear whether berberine would have any benefit in people. Goldenseal also contains only a very small amount of berberine.

Goldenseal is often taken with Echinacea. Many believe that it boosts Echinacea’s effects, but studies have not found that goldenseal is helpful in treating the common cold or respiratory infections.

Goldenseal and berberine have been studied for heart failure, high cholesterol and other conditions, but the results have been inconclusive.

Goldenseal dose and instructions for use

There is no standard dose of goldenseal, although 125mg extract, two to four times daily is common. Some people use 0.5 to 1 gram of dried root three times a day. Ask your pharmacist or herbal practitioner for advice.

Goldenseal food sources

There are no food sources of goldenseal.

Goldenseal supplement information

Goldenseal may come in tablets, capsules, liquid extracts and teas. It’s also used as a topical treatment and mouthwash. Goldenseal is often an ingredient in remedies for cold and flu, allergies and good digestion. Like any supplement, keep goldenseal in a cool, dry place, away from humidity and direct sunlight.

Goldenseal warnings

  • Side effects.Rarely, goldenseal may cause upset stomach, numbness or breathing problems. In large doses, it could aggravate stomach ulcers. When used topically, goldenseal may irritate the skin.
  • Interactions. If you take any medicines regularly, talk to your pharmacist or doctor before you start using goldenseal. It could interact with medications like aspirin, NSAID painkillers, some antidepressants, blood thinners, immunosuppressants, diabetes drugs and ginkgo biloba.
  • Risks. Goldenseal may affect blood sugar levels, increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun and increase the risk of bleeding. Talk to your GP before taking goldenseal if you have a bleeding disorder, diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure or a stomach ulcer.

Given the lack of evidence about its safety, goldenseal is not recommended for children or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on July 10, 2017

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