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Goldenseal: A Traditional Native American Herb with Many Uses

Aug 18, 2007
Goldenseal, Latin name Hydrastis canadensis, is one of the most popular herbs used in herbal remedies today. Goldenseal has traditionally operated as a traditional healing herb of Native Americans, but it has entered the European herbal cabinet with of late.

Traditionally, the Cherokee used goldenseal as an herbal treatment for indigestion, local inflammations, and to improve appetite. The Iroquois used Goldenseal to treat heart problems, liver disorders, whooping cough and to treat fevers.

Goldenseal reached European shores by 1760. During the nineteenth century, Goldenseal had become a popular favorite with practitioners of the Eclectic and Thomsonian schools of medicine. In 1926, Goldenseal was included in the list of United States medicinal ingredients in the Pharmacopoeia.

The character of Goldenseal has alternately been described as bitter, dry, astringent, and cold. The plants constituents are described as resins, volatile oils, and alkaloids. Herbalists traditionally describe the actions of Goldenseal as astringent, a digestive and bile stimulant, a tonic, and a laxative. Goldenseal has also been used to reduce phlegm, to heal gastric mucous membranes, and to raise blood pressure.

The part of the Goldenseal plant that is most commonly used is the rhizome. The rhizome is traditionally harvested in the fall, and it is the main ingredient in many herbal remedies. Many traditional herbalists recommend the rhizome of the Goldenseal plant as an excellent drying and mucus-reducing remedy that works well for the gastric, upper respiratory tract. It is also used for the vaginal mucous membranes. The rhizome of the Goldenseal plant is also used to treat conditions involving the spastic colon (mucous colitis), nasal inflammations, and ear infections.

In essence, Goldenseal is very much an herbal remedy for ear, nose and throat problems. But it has many other applications as well. The Goldenseal plant is often used as an herbal remedy to treat gynecological problems. It can help reduce the severity of menopausal symptoms, and it has been known to ease the pain associated with premenstrual symptoms, especially symptoms linked to stagnation. The rhizome of the Goldenseal plant can often be found in commercial herbal remedies as a tonic.

Even though Goldenseal has proven itself to be a very effective healing herb, there are some cautions you use take when ingesting herbal remedies that feature Goldenseal as one of its main ingredients. For instance, Goldenseal is well known as a powerful uterine stimulant, so its use should be avoided women who are pregnant. Goldenseal is also well known as a hypertensive, so it should be avoided in known cases of high blood pressure.

Also, you should not use herbal remedies containing Goldenseal for an ear infection if you know that there is a risk that an eardrum is perforated. Another caveat: avoid ingesting fresh Goldenseal plant. Eating fresh Golden seal plant has been known to cause ulceration of the mucous membranes. It is a very potent plant. Also, if you suffer from digestive complaints, many herbalists recommend that you take barberry for these types of complaints because Goldenseal has recently become endangered in the wild.
About the Author
Scott Meyers is a staff writer for Its Entirely Natural, a resource for helping you achieve a naturally healthy body, mind, and spirit. You may contact our writers through the web site. Follow this link for more information on Herbal Remedies.
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