The potential benefits of the goldenseal plant encompass increased health, happiness and longevity. Despite being generally safe for consumption by healthy adults, there are some side effects that you should be aware of before beginning a supplemental regimen that includes goldenseal. Of course, that should not discourage anyone from taking advantage of the benefits it can provide.
What is Goldenseal?
Goldenseal goes by many names such as eye root, hydraste, eyebalm, Indian turmeric, orange root and yellow root. It is a perennial herb in the buttercup family and is native to both Canada and the United States (x). It can be used in powder or capsule form and has also historically been used in tinctures and creams. This supplement is chock-full of active, alkaloid constituents like berberine, palmatine, hydrastine, hydrastinine and canadine (x). Research shows that berberine in particular has strong anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial and immune strengthening properties (x, x).
Additionally, goldenseal plants have been regarded historically as beneficial and widely used. For example, traditional Native American medicine and treatments utilized it to address everything from digestive problems, allergies, colds, skin maladies, heart issues and irritated eyes. Some groups also used it to combat coughs, tuberculosis, fevers, pneumonia and even earaches (x, x).
Goldenseal is a triple threat for digestive support, heart healthy lifestyles and immune system support. In addition to helping the body protect itself from some serious diseases and infections, goldenseal also can guard against colds, sinus problems and allergies.
Goldenseal supplements can successfully treat a myriad of health issues such as muscle spasms and yeast infections. It can also improve heart health, reduce the risk of cancers and disrupt cell growth in melanoma.
Some more recent studies even praise goldenseal supplements for helping to balance blood sugar, support urinary tract health, fight yeast infections, improve bladder health and combat antibiotic resistance (x, x).
The antidiabetic aspect of berberine is not fully understood, though research is ongoing into the role that it plays in insulin resistance and in insulin-response. In an animal study, berberine reduced body weight and caused improvement in glucose tolerance without changing the food intake of the mice involved. In the same study, it was shown that berberine reduced body weight and plasma triglycerides as well as an improved insulin action in rats (x).
It is also possible that berberine, which is present in goldenseal, can help patients who are suffering from both diabetes and high cholesterol (x).
Goldenseal plants can help curve urinary tract infections. The plant is naturally adept at killing bacteria, which makes it great for fighting infections. It is even a useful treatment for eye infections (x).
Goldenseal and echinacea have major antimicrobial properties that can make them new-age natural antibiotics. This is a positive sign for those beginning to turn more toward the use of herbal medicines (x).
Many research findings also link goldenseal supplements to better liver health and maintenance overall (x).
Goldenseal is a natural sinus supporter and immunity saver. It can help to eliminate sinus pain if incorporated into a routine and provide long-term relief (x). Coupled with the other positive claims about goldenseal for allergies, it also functions as a antibacterial agent.
Goldenseal Side Effects
Ranked presently among the most common herbal supplements on the market, goldenseal is cited as relatively safe for healthy adults in most studies (x). In addition to the following general side effects, it can cause mild restlessness.
Side effects can present in the form of minor irritation of the mouth and/or throat. Other side effects include light nausea, indigestion and upset stomach.
If your symptoms do not get better on their own after discontinuing a goldenseal supplement, seek medical attention immediately.
If you’re pregnant or nursing, don’t use goldenseal powder. It’s also not intended for usage by or for infants or children (x).
A report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer presents some skepticism about goldenseal root with some animal findings that it could be “possibly carcinogenic to humans” (x) after conducting a two-year study on rats. Because of some potentially toxic side effects, experts adamantly urge consumers to first discuss goldenseal supplementation with a physician (x).
As a dietary supplement, take 500 mg (less than 1/4 tsp) once or twice daily, or as directed by a physician.
Following the same safety protocol as you should with any supplements, remember that goldenseal is designed to promote a general well-being. Be sure to ask your health providers if it might be a suitable supplement for your unique health status, issues and lifestyle.
The Bottom Line
The wide range of benefits of goldenseal provide plenty of reasons for someone to contemplate regular supplementation. While children and pregnant or breastfeeding woman cannot use it, it can deliver some holistic health and wellness benefits with few documented side effects to healthy adults. Typical side effects encompass minor irritations of the mouth and/or throat, light nausea, indigestion and upset stomach. There are also some reports of mild restlessness. Discuss goldenseal with your healthcare professional to decide if it is a supplement that fits your needs.