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Scientific Names | Reported Uses | Scientific Evidence | Adverse Effects| References

Scientific Names: hydrastis canadensis
Common Names: eye balm, eye root, goldsiegel, ground raspberry, indian dye, indian turmeric, jaundice root, orange root, turmeric root, yellow paint, yellow puccoon, wild curcuma

Goldenseal is a perennial found in the Ohio River Valley. Due to overuse, goldenseal is becoming endangered in the wild, with efforts underway to cultivate the botanical.10 The combination herbal supplement of echinacea and goldenseal has emerged as one of the top five herbal supplements sold in the world-wide market with sales in the US close to $50,000,000 annually.5. Despite its popularity, much of the peer reviewed literature available on goldenseal deals specifically with the plant alkaloid component berberine, and not the herbal supplement itself.

Scientific Names | Reported Uses | Scientific Evidence | Adverse Effects | References

Reported Uses:

  • Anti-microbial.
  • Anti-diarrheal (bacteriogenic).
  • GI tract ulceration treatment/canker sore treatment.
  • Wound healing/anti-inflammatory.

Scientific Names | Reported Uses | Scientific Evidence | Adverse Effects | References

Scientific Evidence:

  • Several studies indicate differing mechanisms by which the berberine extract from goldenseal may inhibit bacterial diarrhea caused by Vibrio cholera and Escherichia coli. Berberine has been shown to directly inhibit some cholera and E. coli enterotoxins.9, to significantly decrease intestinal smooth muscle contraction, and therefore lower motility and delay transit time.2
  • Berberine extracts have demonstrated growth inhibition of Giardia lamblia, Entamoeba histolytica, Trichomonas vaginalis, and Leishmania donovani.6 Clinical trials in India showed berberine therapy improved GI symptoms in patients suffering from Giardia, as well as a marked reduction in Giardia positive stools at half the effective dose of metronidazole.3
  • A clinical study of 51 subjects with Chlamydia trachomatis infection in an outpatient eye center demonstrated conjunctival scrapings negative for the organism after treatment with aqueous berberine. It is proposed that the infection is cured not by means of a direct anti-chlamydial property, but rather by stimulating host protective mechanism.7
  • Clinical trials have demonstrated a prevention of ischemia-induced ventricular tachyarrhythmia, stimulation of heart contractility, and lowered peripheral vascular resistance with berberine therapy.4,8

Scientific Names | Reported Uses | Scientific Evidence | Adverse Effects | References

Adverse Effects, Contraindications, Drug Interactions:

  • The berberine component of goldenseal is not considered toxic at doses used in clinical situations. Side effects can result from high dosage and may include GI discomfort, dyspnea, hypotension, and flu-like symptoms.1
  • Goldenseal should not be used in pregnancy, due to the potential for berberine to cause uterine contractions and miscarriage, as well as neonatal jaundice because of bilirubin displacement properties.1

Scientific Names | Reported Uses | Scientific Evidence | Adverse Effects | References

pub med search


1. [no authors listed]. Berberine. Altern Med Rev. 2000;5:175-177.
2. Akhter MH, Sabir M, Bhide NK. Possible mechanism of antidiarrhoel effect of berberine. Indian J Med Res. 1979;70:233-241.
3. Choudhry VP, Sabir M, Bhide VN. Berberine in giardiasis. Indian Pediatrics. 1972;9:143-146.
4. Chun YT, Yip TT, Lau KL, Kong YC. A biochemical study on the hypotensive effect of berberine in rats. Gen Pharmacol. 1978;10:177-182.
5. Govindan M, Govindan G. A convenient method for the determination of the quality of goldenseal. Fitoterapia. 2000;71:232-235.
6. Kaneda Y, Torii M, Tanaka T, Aikawa M. In vitro effects of berberine sulfate on the growth and structure of entamoeba histolytica, giardia lamblia, and trichomonas vaginalis. Ann Trop Med Parasitol. 1991;85:417-425.
7. Khosla PK, Neeraj VI, Gupta SK, Satpathy G. Berberine, a potential drug for trachoma. Rev Int Trach Pathol Ocul Trop Subtrop Sante Publique. 1992;69:147-165.
8. Marin-Neto JA, Maciel BC, Secches AL, Gallo L. Cardiovascular effects of berberine in patients with severe congestive heart failure. Clinical Cardiology. 1988;11:253-260.
9. Sack RB, Froelich JL. Berberine inhibits intestinal secretory response of vibrio cholera and escherichia coli enterotoxins. Infectious Immunology. 1982;35:471-475.
10. Skidmore-Roth L. Mosby's handbook of herbs and natural supplements. St. Louis: Elsevier Science Imprints. 2001.