goldenseal root benefits

Goldenseal Root Benefits: Side Effects & Dosage

Goldenseal root has long been used for medicinal purposes, and its local prominence dates back centuries. Used most commonly to reduce inflammation and treat various ailments, it's essential to understand the side effects and dosage associated with this herb before committing to an ongoing regimen. In this blog post, discover the goldenseal root benefits – from reducing inflammation to helping with digestive issues—and some potential side effects you should be aware of beforehand.


What Is Goldenseal Root?

Goldenseal root (goldenseal yellow root), or Hydrastis canadensis, is a perennial herb belonging to the buttercup family. It is native to North America and has been used for centuries by Native American tribes for its medicinal properties.

The yellow root of the goldenseal plant contains several active compounds, including berberine and hydrastine, which are believed to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and immune-boosting effects.

Goldenseal plant

Goldenseal Root Benefits

Boosting Immune System

The immune-boosting potential of Goldenseal root, particularly when combined with echinacea, has received praise. However, solid scientific evidence to conclusively support these goldenseal root benefits is limited.

Proposed mechanisms suggest that Goldenseal may enhance immunity by promoting white blood cell production and aiding immune cells in fighting harmful microorganisms. Goldenseal's antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal properties also contribute to its immune-enhancing qualities.

So, what does scientific research indicate about the potential of Goldenseal yellow root? A study examining the anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating response of Goldenseal and Astragalus found that while these herbs did not strongly stimulate immune cells in mice, they did demonstrate the ability to modulate immune cell responses during stimulation [1]. This study sheds light on these two herbs' various uses and potential for immune cells [1].

Another comprehensive study titled "Functional Foods and Herbs as Potential Immunoadjuvants and Medicines in Maintaining a Healthy Immune System: A Commentary" categorizes beneficial herbs for the immune system into two groups: herbs for resistant system maintenance and herbs for treating immune-related illnesses.

Goldenseal yellow root falls into the second group, which is considered beneficial when the immune system is weakened or compromised, leading to conditions such as colds and infections [2]. The study also highlights that the active compounds in Goldenseal enhance immune cell activity and increase blood supply to the liver, activating immune support [2].

Furthermore, another comprehensive evaluation study identifies Goldenseal as a nutritional support herb for the immune system. The study found the benefits of Goldenseal for immune function by increasing the production of specific antigen-specific immune globulins [3].

Common Cold and Upper Respiratory Problems

Goldenseal root benefits for common cold

Although there is a widespread belief in the benefits of Goldenseal for certain conditions, further research and more specific scientific studies are needed to understand its properties fully. A comprehensive study on Goldenseal's safety and potential efficacy for health listed a range of benefits, including its effects on upper respiratory infections [4].

However, there is still debate regarding the Goldenseal root benefits for these purposes. A general assessment study on herbal remedies for upper respiratory infections noted the absence of randomized controlled trials evaluating the effectiveness of Goldenseal. It did not recommend its use for preventing common colds [5].

Moreover, caution is advised when using Goldenseal supplements. Research suggests that components like berberine in Goldenseal have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. However, the low berberine content in many products may need to provide more data [6].

Gastrointestinal Well-Being

Effects of Goldenseal root extract on gastrointestinal

Several studies have mentioned the Goldenseal root powder benefits on gastrointestinal and stomach health. One study titled "Herbs for Upper Digestive Overgrowth of Flora" suggests that herbs containing berberine, such as Oregon grape (Berberis aquifolium), Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), and various members of the Artemisia genus, are beneficial antibacterial herbs for patients with Upper Digestive Overgrowth of Flora (UDOF) [6].

Specifically, the study found the benefits of Goldenseal root extracts and berberine on inhibiting gut bacteria in an obese mouse model, resulting in reduced body fat, improved glucose uptake, and enhanced lipid profiles. It is worth mentioning that once UDOF symptoms are eliminated, the use of antibacterial herbs like Goldenseal root should be discontinued, while herbs related to gut motility can still be used [6].

Additionally, the "Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements" discusses the Goldenseal root benefits and its active compound berberine on digestive and intestinal issues, particularly diarrhea.

Both preclinical and clinical studies have shown that berberine inhibits intestinal secretory responses caused by Vibrio cholerae and E. coli bacteria. In the human colon, berberine also inhibits iron transport. These activities are believed to be a direct result of berberine's effects on epithelial cells [7].

Another study highlighting the benefits of Goldenseal in naturally reducing LDL cholesterol levels mentions that Goldenseal root is one of the top five products in the U.S. market used to manage conditions like digestive disorders and urinary tract infections [8].

Urinary Tract And Yeast Infections

Goldenseal root benefits for Chlamydia inhibition in urinary tract

The utility of Hydrastis canadensis, or Goldenseal, is also discussed in several studies related to urinary tract health.

A study on preventing long-term catheter encrustation in individuals with neurogenic bladder disorders mentioned that the application of Hydrastis appeared to be beneficial in preventing catheter encrustation in patients with spinal cord injuries (SCI) [9].

Another study on the pharmacology of herbal medicines for urinary tract infections in Western countries listed the antibacterial effects and inhibition of overactive bladder of Goldenseal root and leaves on urinary tract health [10].

Another study evaluating the effects of herbal remedies for Urinary Tract Infections also listed Goldenseal as effective against disease-causing bacteria such as Chlamydia, E. coli, Salmonella typhi, and Entamoeba histolytica, all of which are known to cause urinary tract-related issues [11].

Furthermore, this herbal remedy has been confirmed to be effective against fungal infections. One study found that garlic and Goldenseal extract were the most effective in inhibiting fungal growth [12].

Oral Hygiene

Goldenseal possesses antibacterial properties that contribute to oral hygiene. Numerous studies have highlighted its efficacy as an antimicrobial agent in managing oral diseases and associated therapeutic approaches. These studies have reported positive outcomes, including reducing gum inflammation and inhibiting the growth of anaerobic and aerobic bacteria [13].

Additionally, a study conducted by Bang Yeon Hwang and colleagues demonstrated that berberine, extracted from Goldenseal, exhibits antibacterial activity against oral pathogens such as Streptococcus mutans and Fusobacteria nucleatum [14].

Furthermore, a review titled "Herbal Products in Oral Hygiene Maintenance" mentions that using Goldenseal or Oregon grape has significantly improved inflammation, enhancing cleansing, and promoting healing of infected gum sores [15].

Let's explore in detail the benefits of Goldenseal root in this video: 

Goldenseal Root Side Effects

Pregnant or breastfeeding women are advised against using Goldenseal due to potential risks regardless of many benefits of goldenseal root used in the past . The "Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements" by Paul M. Coates and colleagues report cases of topical overdosing with Goldenseal's berberine component, leading to skin or membrane ulceration, especially in pregnant and lactating women [7].

The book also mentions possible side effects, such as eye and skin irritation, nephritis, kidney irritation, nosebleeds, lethargy, and dyspnea [7]. In humans, consuming a high dose of Goldenseal can even result in CNS-depressant effects, including central paralysis [7]. Additionally, using fresh Goldenseal in patients with gastrointestinal inflammation or infection may cause gastrointestinal or mucosal irritation [4].

Using Goldenseal products for infants is also not recommended, as they can disrupt bilirubin levels, leading to brain damage and jaundice [3].

Furthermore, higher doses of Goldenseal products have been found to cause severe skin irritation in cases of skin inflammation [3]. The book "Phytopharmacy: An Evidence-Based Guide to Herbal Medicinal Products" mentions that some side effects of Goldenseal at high doses include exaggerated reflexes, convulsions, paralysis, and respiratory failure [16].

Goldenseal Root Dosage

The recommended doses for Goldenseal root are as follows:

  • Decoction of dried root: 0.5 - 1.0 g, three times daily.
  • Tincture (1:10, 60% ethanol): 2-4 ml, three times a day.
  • Fluid extract (1:1, 60% ethanol): 0.3 - 1.0 ml, three times daily.

Please note that all dosage information and formulations mentioned above are based on the recommendations from the British Herbal Compendium [7].

Forms Of Goldenseal Root

Three main forms of goldenseal root are commonly used: fresh, dried, and powdered. Each form has its own unique benefits and uses, making it a popular choice for natural remedies.

Fresh Goldenseal Root

Fresh Goldenseal Root

Fresh goldenseal root is the most potent plant form as it contains high levels of active compounds. It is typically harvested in the fall when the plant is at its peak and then sold or used immediately.

This form of goldenseal root can be consumed in a variety of ways, including making tea or tincture, chewing on the root itself, or incorporating it into recipes. However, due to its potency and potential for overharvesting, it is essential to use this form sparingly and only when necessary.

In addition, some cases reported that fresh goldenseal root can cause digestive upset in certain individuals, so it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before using this herb.

Dried Goldenseal Root

Dried goldenseal root is another commonly used form of the plant. It is typically sold in its whole form, and can also be ground into a powder for easier consumption.

Dried goldenseal root is often used to make tea or tinctures, but it can also be added to capsules or tablets for convenient intake. This form of the plant is less potent than fresh goldenseal root but still contains many beneficial compounds.

Powdered Goldenseal Root

Powdered goldenseal root is the most convenient form of the plant, as it can be easily added to food and beverages for consumption. Goldenseal root capsules are made by grinding dried goldenseal root into a fine powder.

This form of goldenseal root is often used in cooking, baking or added to smoothies and juices. It can also be used in capsule form for a quick and easy way to reap the goldenseal root benefits.


Goldenseal root benefits have long been used as a natural remedy for various health issues. Its antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties make it effective for urinary tract infections, oral hygiene, and more. However, it's important to use it in moderation under professional guidance. Pregnant or lactating women, infants, and those with certain medical conditions should avoid it. Consider appropriate dosage and forms for maximum benefits.


1. Immune Modulation of Macrophage Pro-Inflammatory Response by Goldenseal and Astragalus Extracts | Journal of Medicinal Food. (2021). Journal of Medicinal Food.
2. Naik, S. R., Thakare, V. N., & Joshi, F. (2010). Functional Foods and Herbs as Potential Immunoadjuvants and Medicines in Maintaining Healthy Immune System: A Commentary. Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine, 7(1).
3. Cristiana Paul, M.S. “Nutritional Support for the Immune System.” Design for Health,
4. Sudip Kumar Mandal, Maji, A. K., Mishra, S., Pir Mohammad Ishfaq, Hari Prasad Devkota, A. Sanches-Silva, & Das, N. (2020). Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.) and its active constituents: A critical review of their efficacy and toxicological issues. Pharmacological Research, 160, 105085–105085.
5. Barrett, B. (2018). Viral Upper Respiratory Infection. Elsevier EBooks, 170-179.e7.
6. Immune Modulation of Macrophage Pro-Inflammatory Response by Goldenseal and Astragalus Extracts | Journal of Medicinal Food. (2021). Journal of Medicinal Food.
7. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements (Online). (2023). Google Books.
8. Abidi, P., Chen, W., Kraemer, F. B., Li, H., & Li, J. (2006). The medicinal plant goldenseal is a natural LDL-lowering agent with multiple bioactive components and new action mechanisms. Journal of Lipid Research, 47(10), 2134–2147.
9. Jürgen Pannek, & Pannek-Rademacher, S. (2021). Usefulness of Hydrastis for the prevention of encrustation of long-term indwelling catheters in persons with neurogenic bladder dysfunction: a case series. Spinal Cord Series and Cases, 7(1).
10. Sadeq Kaabi, & Ali, B. M. (2020, October 2). Pharmacology of Herbal Remedies for Urinary Tract Infection in Western Countries. ResearchGate; unknown.
11. Bag, A, et al. Pharmacognosy Reviews [Phcog Rev, vol. 2, 2008,
12. Riešutė, R., Šalomskienė, J., Alvija Šalaševičienė, & Mačionienė, I. (2022). Development of Food Prototype with Antifungal Properties. Social Science Research Network.
13. Petrović , MS, et al. “Periodontal Disease and Phytotherapy.” Oral Hygiene and Health, vol. 3, no. 1, 10 Mar. 2015.
14. Antimicrobial Constituents from Goldenseal (the Rhizomes ofHydrastis canadensis) against Selected Oral Pathogens. (2003). Planta Medica, 69(7), 623–627.
15. Rajagopalan , Anusha. “Herbal Products in Oral Hygiene Maintenance –a Review.”IOSR Journal of Pharmacy, vol. 5, no. 1, Jan. 2015.
16. Phytopharmacy. (2015). Google Books.

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Ralph S. Albert, with over 10 years of expertise in nutrition and research, now heads the Research division at Vinatura Supplements. His dedication and extensive knowledge ensure top-quality articles on nutrition and health, collaborating with a skilled team. He has successfully completed The VINATURA Expertise Research Training Program, underscoring his commitment to Vinatura's mission. Ralph has also published numerous articles and conducted valuable research in the field, making him a trusted resource for individuals on their wellness journey.

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