Goldenseal Root Herbal

Goldenseal Leaf

Hydrastis canadensis


PROPERTIES: Antiseptic

SYSTEMS AFFECTED: Eyes, Urinary Tract

POSSIBLE USES: as a tea, as an addition to formulas for the eyes


Typically it is the root (rhizome) that is used with Goldenseal. However, the root would be inappropriately strong for use as an eyewash, but the wonderful anti-infectious properties of this amazing herb make it essential to formulas designed to clear up eye infections and irritations. Goldenseal, added to an herbal formula, increases the tonic properties of the herbs for the specific organs that are being treated. This is much like the action of Lobelia. However, Goldenrod does not have the nervine properties associated with Lobelia, and sometimes those nervine properties are not needed or would be overwhelming.

Goldenseal Root

Hydrastis canadensis


PROPERTIES: Alterative, Tonic, Stimulant, Expectorant, Emmenagogue, Antiseptic, Laxative, Vulnerary, Hormone Balancing, Antifungal, Antimicrobial

SYSTEMS AFFECTED: Endocrine/Glandular, Nervine, Immune, Lymphatic, Reproductive, Integumentary, Uterine (stimulant), Cardiovascular, Digestive bitter

POSSIBLE USES: endometriosis, gum diseases, ringworm, PMS, strep throat, strokes, liver disorders


Goldenseal Root was prized during the 19th century as a cure-all, and as you can see from the list above of healing properties and the body systems affected, calling this herb a cure-all is not much of a stretch. The many healing properties of this herb are so well known that very little interest has ever been shown in research as to its usefulness. It is difficult to find a disease or condition for which Goldenseal has not been found effective by someone somewhere.

There were studies done in the late 1960s that identified hydrastine as the constituent that constricts blood vessels and stimulates the autonomic nervous system. Berberine is another vital part of Goldenseal and is responsible for a long list of healing properties. Berberine containing plants always show a broad spectrum of antibiotic activity. The action of berberine is actually considered to be stronger than that of modern antibiotics but berberine produces no side-effects. Effectiveness against strep and staph is a hallmark of berberine containing plants and usually requires only low doses for effectiveness.

Goldenseal has proven effective in the treatment of liver disorders, various cancers, and any condition that presents with lowered white blood cell counts, including chemotherapy. Prevention and recovery from strokes, improvement in the flow of bile, and the strengthening of liver function are also accomplished by Goldenseal. This herb is amazing for healing even deep wounds, particularly diabetic sores. I have witnessed this in my own family. Goldenseal is also used to reduce heavy menstrual bleeding and is used by midwives to help stop bleeding following childbirth.

A comparison between this marvelous herb and Oregon Grape, which grows in the Mountain West where I live, can be found in the chapter on Alterative and Adaptogenic Herbs.

Goldenseal grows wild in the moist mountainous woodland areas of North America and prefers soil that is well covered with dead leaves. Goldenseal has been excessively harvested and is now found only rarely in its natural habitat. Most of what is sold as a medicinal herb today has been cultivated. The plant must reach 3 years of age before the rhizomes are mature enough to contain the constituents necessary for healing properties.

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