Goldenseal, also called yellowroot or eyeroot, is a member of the buttercup family and is native to North America. It produces a golden-yellow dye. Goldenseal’s popularity in the 1990s led to severe over-harvesting, causing concerns that it was becoming an endangered species in the U.S. this has stimulated increased cultivation.
Uses and Benefits:
Goldenseal is marketed as a tonic and natural antibiotic, and it is often combined with echinacea to help “strengthen the immune system.” As a popular American folk medicine, goldenseal has been used as an antiseptic, astringent, or hemostatic to treat a wide variety of skin, eye, and mucous membrane inflammatory and infectious conditions. Thus, it has been employed as a mouthwash, for canker sores, and as a topical agent for dermatologic disorders. In tonic form, it has been ingested as a “bitter” to aid digestion and treat dyspepsia. Some herbalists also view goldenseal as a mucous membrane “alterative”-increasing and decreasing mucus secretion depending on the body’s needs.
Goldenseal contains several active isoquinoline dlkaloids such as berberine (0.5-6%), hydrastine (1.5-4%), and canadine. Berberine provides the bitter taste and yellow color to the herb, and most of the scientific explanations for goldenseal’s 115e have been attributed to the effects of berberine and related . Berberine is very poorly absorbed orally (probably . 1 %), although blood levels are measurable after large doses.
Extracts of the crude herb, and berberine in particular, have broad in vitro antimicrobial activity against grampositive and gramnegative bacteria, fungi, and protozoa and other parasites to Immunologic activity, such as enhanced macrophage, cytokintt , and antibody response, has been demonstrated in rodent and vitro studies. In contrast, anti-inflammatory and immunos pressive effects also have been demonstrated, High doses oral berberine reduced the colonic inflammation of drug-inducod colitis in rats. Berberine’s use as an antidiarrheal agent may be partly explained by inhibition of ion transport secretory activity in intestinal epithelial cells.
Berberine and related alkaloids affect in vivo cardiovasculilf activity and cause contraction or relaxation of isolated smooll1 muscles; results vary depending on the alkaloid and the animnl model studied. In humans, very large intravenous doses 01 berberine (0.2 mg/kg/min for 30 min) to patients with severe conge.stive heart failure caused significant hemodynamic changes consistent with decreased vascular resistance and increased cardiac output, as well as ventricular tachycardia in some patients.
There are no clinical trials in the medical or herbal literature using goldenseal or crude herbal extracts. The only clinical research has been with pure berberine, often isolated from other berberine-containing plants such as Berberis aristata. Berberine has been studied in countries such as India for acute diarrhea in children or adults, and for trachoma. It appears to have antimicrobial and clinical activity similar to other antibiotics in un