Goldenseal is in serious danger due to overharvesting. Goldenseal became popular in the mid-nineteenth century. By 1905, the herb was much less plentiful, partially due to overharvesting and partially to habitat destruction. Wild goldenseal is now so rare that the herb is listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Goldenseal is one of the most overharvested herbs.
More than 60 million Goldenseal plants are picked each year without being replaced.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) is a perennial herb in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae, native to southeastern Canada and the northeastern United States. It may be distinguished by its thick, yellow knotted rootstock. The stem is purplish and hairy above ground and yellow below ground where it connects to the yellow rhizome. The plant bears 2 palmate, hairy leaves with 5-7 double-toothed lobes and single, small, inconspicuous flowers with greenish white stamens in the late spring. It bears a single berry like a large raspberry with 10-30 seeds in the summer.
It is also known as Orange-root, Orangeroot and Yellow Puccoon
Traditional Uses for Goldenseal:-
Its herbal properties include:- bitter, hepatic, alterative, anticatarrhal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, laxative, emmenagogue, and oxytocic.
Goldenseal is often used as a multi-purpose remedy, having many different medicinal properties. In addition to working as a topical antimicrobial, it can also be taken internally as a digestion aid, and can remove canker sores when gargled. Goldenseal may be purchased in salve, tablet, tincture form, or as a bulk powder. It is EXTREMELY RARE to find it in this raw form. Goldenseal is often used to boost the medicinal effects of other herbs it is blended or formulated with.
A second species from Japan, previously listed as Hydrastis palmatum, is sufficiently distinct that it is now usually treated in a separate genus, as Glaucidium palmatum
History of Goldenseal:-
At the time of the European conquest of the Americas, Goldenseal was in extensive use among certain Native American tribes of North America, both as a medicine and as a colouring material. Prof. Benjamin Smith Barton in his first edition of “Collections for an Essay Toward a Materia Medica of the United States” (1798), refers to the Cherokee use of the plant as a cure for cancer. Later, he calls attention to its properties as a bitter tonic, and as a local wash for ophthalmia. It became a favourite of the Eclectics from the time of Constantine Raffinesque in the 1830s.
Goldenseal was extensively used for cancers and swellings of the breasts by the Eclectics, although it was not considered sufficient for cancer alone. Hale recommended its use in hard swellings of the breast, while conium was used for smaller painless lumps. The two herbs alone or with phytoplankton Americana were used for cancers, along with alteratives like red clover.
Ellingwood’s American Materia Medica lists Goldenseal as being useful for functional disorders of the stomach, catarrhal gastritis, atonic dyspepsia, chronic constipation, hepatic congestion, cirrhosis, protracted fevers, cerebral engorgements of a chronic character, uterine subinvolution, in menorrhagia or metrorrhagia from the displaced uterus, post partum hemorrhage, catarrhal, ulcerating, aphthous, indolent and otherwise unhealthy conditions of mucous surfaces, leucorrhea, gallstones and breast swellings associated with the menses.
Herbalists today consider Goldenseal an alterative, anti-catarrhal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, bitter tonic, laxative, and muscular stimulant. They recommend the herb for gastritis, colitis, duodenal ulcers, loss of appetite and liver disease. They discuss the astringent effect it has on mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract, the gastrointestinal tract, the bladder, and rectum (applied topically), and the skin. The herb is very bitter, which stimulates the appetite and aids digestion, and often stimulates bile secretion.
Constituents of Goldenseal:-
It contains the isoquinoline alkaloids: hydrastine, berberine, berberastine, hydrastinine, tetrahydroberberastine, canadine, and canalidine. A related compound, 8-oxotetrahydrothalifendine was identified in one study. Berberine and hydrastine act as quaternary bases and are poorly soluble in water but freely soluble in alcohol.