Goldenseal is one of the most popular herbs currently sold in the US and is used to cure a wide range of health problems. Known by its Latin name, Hydrastis canadensis, goldenseal is available as a tea, tincture, ointment, tablet, powder and homeopathic remedy. It is effective at treating conditions such as colds and flu, fungal infections, urinary tract infections, stomach problems, menstrual cramps and loss of appetite. Native Americans, particularly the Iroquois tribe, reportedly used the herb to cure serious diseases such as cancer and ulcers. Goldenseal contains a compound known as berberine which has been proven to kill off certain strains of bacteria such as E. coli, H. pylori, and those that cause infectious diarrhea. It has also been found to be effective against candida, giardia and tapeworms.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, goldenseal acts as a natural antibiotic when combined with Echinacea and is promoted as a way to strengthen the immune system. It can also be used to treat infections of the mucous membranes such as sinusitis, pink eye, urinary tract infections and sore throat. Used topically, the antibacterial properties found naturally in berberine kill off any bacteria that may be present in minor wounds and skin infections.
A 2001 study performed in Italy at the University of Rome tested the effects of the isolated alkaloids of goldenseal such as berberine, canadine, canadaline and beta-hydrastine against different strains of bacteria. Researchers measured the ‘killing time’ of these alkaloids on two strains of staphylococcus, E. coli and pseudomonas aeruginosa. Researchers concluded that “the results provide a rational basis for the traditional use of Hydrastis Canadensis.
Acetaminophen toxicity is the number one cause of liver failure in the developed world. Acetaminophen is the main ingredient in the most popular over the counter painkillers such as Tylenol and Anacin Aspirin Free. According to the FDA, almost 500 deaths per year are as a result of acetaminophen overdose with 25% of those being unintentional. Researchers at Chiba University in Japan found that goldenseal offered protection against acetaminophen induced liver failure in male rats.
Hydrastis canadensis is the homeopathic name for goldenseal. A study performed in 2012 at the Amala Cancer Research Center in India tested the effects of a variety of homeopathic remedies such as Hydrastis, Carcinosinum, Ruta and Thuja for their ability to induce apoptosis in tumor cells. Apoptosis is also known as programmed cell death. The results showed that many of the enzymes required for apoptosis were increased in laboratory rats that were given homeopathic medicine. The researchers concluded that “apoptosis is one of the mechanisms of tumor reduction of homeopathic drugs.”
Another Indian study carried out in 2010 found that goldenseal may be able to prevent cancer of the liver. Researchers found that rats with chemically induced liver cancer showed decreased cancer activity when given a crude extract of Hydrastis Canadensis. The results showed that golden seal had anti-cancer potential and could be suitable as a complementary medicine in the treatment of liver cancer
Possible Side Effects and Drug Interactions
Like traditional medicines, herbs can cause side effects so it is advisable to consult an experienced health practitioner or herbalist before stating treatment with goldenseal. While it is considered safe in small doses, the long-term effects of golden seal have not yet been fully evaluated. What is known is that it is extremely dangerous for pregnant and nursing mothers and has been found to cause kernicterus (brain damage) in unborn children. It is also known to react with certain drugs such as antidepressants, blood-thinners and liver medication. Combining goldenseal with drugs of this type can led to serious illness so always consult your regular health practitioner if you are already on medication.
A full list of possible drug interactions can be found here: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-943-GOLDENSEAL.aspx?activeIngredientId=943&activeIngredientName=GOLDENSEAL
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