Goldenseal – Hydrastis canadensis

Parts used: root

Traditional uses: Infusion used as wash for local inflammations and skin complaints. Generally alterative, anti-catarrhal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, bitter tonic, laxative, anti-diabetic and muscular stimulant.

“The action is tonic, laxative, alterative and detergent. It is a valuable remedy in the disordered conditions of the digestion and has a special action on the mucous membrane, making it of value as a local remedy in various forms of catarrh. In chronic inflammation of the colon and rectum, injections of Hydrastine are often of great service, and it has been used in haemorrhoids with excellent results, the alkaloid Hydrastine having an astringent action. The powder has proved useful as a snuff for nasal catarrh. It is employed in dyspepsia, gastric catarrh, loss of appetite and liver troubles. As a tonic, it is of extreme value in cases of habitual constipation, given as a powder, combined with any aromatic. It is an efficient remedy for sickness and vomiting.” ~Grieve MH

*** Cautions: Taking goldenseal over a long period of time can reduce absorption of B vitamins. Avoid goldenseal during pregnancy and lactation, with gastrointestinal inflammation, and with proinflammatory disorders. Goldenseal has been found to have inhibited cytochrome P450 CYP2D6, CYP3A4, and CYP3A5 activity by approximately 40%, a statistically and clinically significant reduction. CYP2D6 specifically is a known metabolizer of many commonly used pharmaceuticals, such as antidepressants (including all SSRIs except for fluvoxamine), neuroleptics, and codeine. Combining Goldenseal with such medications should be done with caution and under the supervision of a doctor as it can lead to serious – perhaps fatal – toxicity. Those with a genetic deficiency in these enzymes are at particular risk.

Side effects of goldenseal may include digestive complaints, nervousness, depression, constipation, rapid heartbeat, diarrhea, stomach cramps and pain, mouth ulcers, nausea, seizures, vomiting, and central nervous system depression. High doses may cause breathing problems, paralysis, and even death. Long-term use may lead to vitamin B deficiency, hallucinations, and delirium. ***

For stomach and intestinal troubles – “The root of the yellow puccoon or golden-seal is fine for all sorts of stomach and intestinal troubles. If a hillman ‘gets to pukin’ an’ caint keep nothin’ on his stummick,’ he just drinks a little yellow puccoon tea, or eats a bit of the fresh root every day. Some people carry a piece of this root in their pockets and chew it like tobacco or chewing gum.” ~Randolph OMF 95

To heal an open wound – “Golden-seal root, ground into a fine dry powder and dusted on an open wound or sore, seems to cure it up about as well as anything.” ~Randolph OMF 101

For black scurvy or canker sores – “Yellow root was qood fer the black scurvy. I reckon that youen’s calls it canker sores on the mouth and lips nowadays, but the cure is jest as effective, no matter what the name the ailment goes by.” ~Pompey GG

For sore throats and mouth wash – “Fer sore throats and that you used yellow picuyne, which was also good fer a mouth wash.” ~Pompey GG

“Golden Seal root…is good for sore [mouth], pyreah. You can just suck on the root or boil the roots and use as a mouth wash.” ~Parler FBA III 2731

“Golden seal…will cure a sore mouth. To prepare this solution for application let the seal dry then grind into a fine powder. The fine powder is then rubbed on the sore spots.” ~Parler FBA III 2733

“…gargle with water that has set over night with golden seal…roots in it.” ~Parler FBA III 3193

Tea with camphor used for sore eyes – “Use Golden Seal, Yellow Puccoon, make a tea out of it, take a teaspoon and put in one drop of camphor…wash your eyes with that.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO

For an eye wash – “Golden Seal, you wash the roots and boil them. Made eye water, real weak, and you wash your eyes with that for them old sore red eyes that you could catch.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO

“For sore eyes – take yellow root…and add a little of the dried root to a little water and let it set until the water turned [yellow] and then put it in the sore eyes.” ~Parler FBA II 2155

For lumbago – “Yellow pe-corn (puccoon) roots…were used for lumbago.” ~Parler FBA II 1444

To tone the blood – “Chew golden seal root…for good blood tone.” ~Parler FBA II 1513

Wild cherry, dogwood, sarsaparilla, yellow dock, and goldenseal for colds – “To prevent chills and fevers or as a general health tonic, prepare and take the following: Wild cherry bark, dogwood bark, sarsaparilla root (yellow), yellow dock roots, and golden seal – all growing in our Arkansas woods, clean and boil. Boil down to a strong tea. Put in enough good alcohol to preserve it – a pint to a ½ gal. of strong tea. Sweeten with rock candy. A little sassefrass bark may be added, too.” ~Parler FBA II 1766


Carter, Kay & Bonnie Krause Home Remedies of the Illinois Ozarks (HRIO)

Grieve, Margaret A Modern Herbal (MH)

Moerman, Daniel E. Native American Ethnobotany (NAE)

Parler, Mary Celestia Folk Beliefs from Arkansas (FBA)

Randolph, Vance Ozark Magic and Folklore (OMF)