What is goldenseal? What are its uses? Find out about this popular medicinal herb and decide if it is right for you.
Along with echinacea and ginger, the herb goldenseal is one of the most frequently mentioned healing herbs whenever the cold and flu season arrives. It is often referred to as a natural tonic for ridding the body of infection. There are however, important side effects to be aware of. Exactly what is goldenseal used for? When is it beneficial and when is it better to avoid this plant?
Facts on the Herb Goldenseal
Goldenseal, also known as yellow root, ground raspberry and eye balm, is a traditional Native American herb. It has both external and internal uses and has a long history for treating a wide range of ailments from respiratory infections to eczema. The roots and rhizomes of this North American plant are packed with phytochemicals which are known to have positive effects on the body, such as berberine and beta-carotene. Whether goldenseal actually works or not is another issue; few studies have been performed to validate traditional goldenseal uses.
Potential Goldenseal Benefits
Goldenseal is said to have benefits for the following healing issues:
- Poor digestion
Exactly what is goldenseal doing in the body to make it such a beneficial herb? Goldenseal tones mucous membranes, which would make it useful for improving the overall health of the digestive system, and specifically beneficial for preventing ulcers. The astringent action is also ideal for treating sore throats; making a cup of goldenseal tea a great remedy for this common cold symptom.
It has an antibacterial effect, which is believed to be due to the compound berberine. This would help in cases of respiratory infections as well as topical skin infections. The antiseptic action could also be helpful for treating eye infections. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, goldenseal may sometimes be used to disinfect minor cuts.
Goldenseal also has anti-catarrhal and expectorant properties. For those who suffer from allergies, hayfever, and colds, this benefit would make supplementing with a goldenseal extract useful for managing a stuffy, runny nose and lung congestion. As this herb is said to stimulate the immune system, possibly by boosting white blood cell production, goldenseal may be used not only to treat respiratory complaints, but it may help to prevent or at least lessen the severity of infections and reactions.
Potential Side Effects and Interactions
For most people goldenseal is considered safe for use, as long as it is used for a short period of time. It should never be used by pregnant women. Goldenseal can stimulate the uterus. It is also best not to allow young children to have goldenseal, simply because the effects are unknown. The berberine in this herb may interact with a number of common medications, such as blood thinners and some types of antibiotics. Anyone taking medication should always check with their doctor before taking goldenseal supplements or tea. To be safe, people with high blood pressure and heart disease should seek their doctor’s approval as well before use.
How to Use Goldenseal Safely
There are so many goldenseal uses and potential benefits. This plant may act as a great natural alternative to over-the-counter cold and flu medications. It may improve and prevent stomach conditions. Used externally it can be used as an eye wash, or a disinfectant for the skin. But how can goldenseal be used safely?
First, always check with your doctor before use. Avoid if pregnant, nursing, taking medications or if you have heart disease. Only use for one week at a time. When using goldenseal to boost immune health and reduce symptoms during the cold and flu season, alternate with echinacea. Always buy goldenseal extracts, capsules or the dried herb itself from trusted sources.
Whether or not to use this plant to promote well-being is an individual choice. Considering the suggested benefits, there is great potential. At the same time, there can be side effects for some people and a lot is still unknown about use. Understanding what goldenseal is, what it is used for, and how to use it properly is important for making wise decisions about your health.