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goldenseal plant

© 2018 Steven Foster

A goldenseal monograph for the home

Latin Name: Hydrastis canadensis

Common Names: goldenseal, yellow root

This goldenseal monograph provides basic information about goldenseal—common names, usefulness and safety, and resources for more information.


Goldenseal Basics

  • Goldenseal is a plant native to North America. Overharvesting and loss of habitat have decreased the availability of wild goldenseal, but the plant is now grown commercially in the United States, especially in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
  • Historically, Native Americans used goldenseal for skin disorders, ulcers, fevers, and other conditions. European settlers adopted it as a medicinal plant, using it for a variety of conditions.
  • Currently, goldenseal is used as a dietary supplement for colds and other respiratory tract infections, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), ulcers, and digestive upsets such as diarrhea and constipation. It is also used as a mouthwash for sore gums and as an eyewash for eye inflammation, and it is applied to the skin for rashes and other skin problems.
  • The roots of goldenseal are dried and used to make teas, extracts, tablets, or capsules. Goldenseal is often combined with echinacea in commercial products.

Goldenseal in Health Research

  • Very little research has been done on the health effects of goldenseal.

Goldenseal Research Summary

  • The scientific evidence does not support the use of goldenseal for any health-related purpose.
  • Berberine, a substance found in goldenseal, has been studied for heart failure, diarrhea, infections, and other health conditions. However, when people take goldenseal orally (by mouth), very little berberine may be absorbed by the body or enter the bloodstream, so study results on berberine may not apply to goldenseal.
  • The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is funding research to study how goldenseal may act against bacteria and to develop research-grade goldenseal for use in human studies.

Goldenseal Safety

  • There isn’t much reliable information on the safety of goldenseal.
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use goldenseal, and it should not be given to infants. Berberine can cause or worsen jaundice in newborn infants and could lead to a life-threatening problem called kernicterus.
  • Goldenseal contains substances that may change the way your body processes many medications. If you’re taking medication, consult your health care provider before using goldenseal.

Goldenseal References


PubMed Articles About Hydrastis canadensis

Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)[Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US), National Center for Biotechnology Information; [1988] – [cited 2018 Apr 5]. Available from:

Nguyen, JT., Tian, DD., Tanna, RS., Hadi, DL., Bansal, S., Calamia, JC., Arian, CM., Shireman, LM., Molnár, B., Horváth, M., Kellogg, JJ., Layton, ME., White, JR., Cech, NB., Boyce, RD., Unadkat, JD., Thummel, KE., Paine, MF., (2021) Assessing Transporter-Mediated Natural Product-Drug Interactions Via In vitro-In Vivo Extrapolation: Clinical Evaluation With a Probe Cocktail.

The botanical natural product goldenseal can precipitate clinical drug interactions by inhibiting cytochrome P450 (CYP) 3A and CYP2D6. Besides P-glycoprotein, effects of goldenseal on other clinically relevant transporters remain unknown. Established transporter-expressing cell systems were used to determine the inhibitory effects of a goldenseal extract, standardized to the major alkaloid berberine, on transporter activity. Using recommended basic models, the extract was predicted to inhibit the efflux transporter BCRP and uptake transporters OATP1B1/3. Using a cocktail approach, effects of the goldenseal product on BCRP, OATP1B1/3, OATs, OCTs, MATEs, and CYP3A were next evaluated in 16 healthy volunteers. As expected, goldenseal increased the area under the plasma concentration-time curve (AUC ) of midazolam (CYP3A; positive control), with a geometric mean ratio (GMR) (90% confidence interval (CI)) of 1.43 (1.35-1.53). However, goldenseal had no effects on the pharmacokinetics of rosuvastatin (BCRP and OATP1B1/3) and furosemide (OAT1/3); decreased metformin (OCT1/2, MATE1/2-K) AUC (GMR, 0.77 (0.71-0.83)); and had no effect on metformin half-life and renal clearance. Results indicated that goldenseal altered intestinal permeability, transport, and/or other processes involved in metformin absorption, which may have unfavorable effects on glucose control. Inconsistencies between model predictions and pharmacokinetic outcomes prompt further refinement of current basic models to include differential transporter expression in relevant organs and intestinal degradation/metabolism of the precipitant(s). Such refinement should improve in vitro-in vivo prediction accuracy, contributing to a standard approach for studying transporter-mediated natural product-drug interactions.