Belonging to the Buttercup family, Goldenseal is a herb that grows in the rich soils of shady woodlands of North America. A perennial reaching 15 to 30 cm in height, it produces small white flowers, which bloom in spring. Fruits resemble raspberries but are inedible. Goldenseal’s root and rhizomes are gathered in the autumn after the foliage has died back. Then they are dried and used as medicine.
Common Name: Goldenseal
Botanical Name: Hydrastis canadensis
Other names: Yellow Puccoon, Ohio Kercuma, Ground Raspberry, Orange root, Indian dye
Growing Area: Goldenseal is a plant native to Canada and the eastern United States. Grows in shady woodlands, particularly in rich soils.
Nutrients & Applications:
The medicinal and healing properties of Goldenseal are attributed to several alkaloids. The first, hydrastine, helps to stop blood flow and therefore reduces bleeding, the second, berberine, has anti- bacteria, anti- amoebic, and anti-fungal properties. A third alkaloid, canadine, promotes uterine contractions and therefore Goldenseal should not be used during pregnancy.
Traditionally, the indigenous peoples of North America and Canada made use of Goldenseal’s underground stem or rhizome and its root. After boiling them in water, the resulting liquid was applied as a wash for skin disorders, sore and inflamed eyes, as a mouthwash for canker sores and inflamed gums and to treat arrow wounds. Goldenseal was also used to treat digestive problems and diarrhoea, regulate liver and spleen functions and, by pounding the bright yellow root with bear fat and smearing it on their bodies, the Cherokees made an insect repellent. The roots were also used to make war paint and clothing dye.
In modern herbal medicine Goldenseal is used as a treatment for infections of any of the mucous membranes of the body. It helps improve digestion, supports healthy functioning of the stomach, colon, and rectum and can help treat infections of the chest, throat, sinus, and urogenital tract. In line with its traditional uses, Goldenseal may still be recommended today to aid normal functioning of the eyes, ears, gums and liver. It is usually taken as a tea, tincture or tablet, or used as an ointment.