Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) Benefits and Dosing

// Amy Doyle, MS, CNS


Hydrastis Canadensis (Goldenseal) Benefits and Dosing

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), is a low growing herbaceous perennial native to the American Northeast. The benefits of goldenseal can be traced back to Native American cultures where the root and rhizome had many purposes including use a fabric dye, and for gastrointestinal and immune support.* The alkaloids that comprise the plant’s active components are also considered fundamental elements of Chinese medicine and are responsible for the herb’s international popularity.

Clinical studies have confirmed the ability of Goldenseal alkaloids to support healthy immune responses.*

Intestinal Support*

The widespread use of Goldenseal can be attributed to its main isoquinoline alkaloids hydrastine and berberine, found in high amounts in the root and rhizome. These alkaloids in the root extract have been shown to support the balance of a wide spectrum of intestinal organisms while promoting intestinal defense by increasing production of immunoglobulin (IgM).*1

Immune Support*

Clinical studies have also confirmed the ability of Goldenseal alkaloids to support healthy immune responses.* Reviews of animal and cell line studies demonstrate berberine’s activity against both gram- negative and gram-positive bacteria and fungi, as well as supporting the Th1 response by activating macrophage and interleukin production.2,3 In herbal traditions, the energetics of goldenseal root extract are described as bitter, cold, dry, and moving, which may account for hydrastine’s history of use in supporting healthy mucous membranes.*4

Dosing Considerations

Standardized root extracts of goldenseal are generally dosed in a range of 50 mg/day to 300 mg/day, with higher amounts administered in divided doses. As an example, 100 mg three times daily may be used. Another common approach to dosing goldenseal would be twice per day, so 150 mg twice daily is a more convenient, but robust daily dose.

Both hydrastine and berberine can inhibit numerous cytochrome P450 enzymes, with the most recognized being CYP3A4 and CYP2D6 presenting a potential interaction with certain medications.*

Practitioners can check any drug-nutrient interactions using this Drug-Nutrient-Interaction-Checker, which allows you to print or email any uncovered interactions to your patients.

Goldenseal’s therapeutic use since ancient times reflects its reputation for promoting intestinal and immune health that is still highly esteemed today.*

Amy Doyle, MS, CNS

Amy Doyle is a board certified nutrition specialist and owner of White Stone Wellness. She graduated from the New York Chiropractic College with her Master’s degree in Applied Clinical Nutrition. She is a member of the American College of Nutrition and American Nutrition Association. She currently has a private practice at Willow Health and Wellness Center in Baldwinsville, NY. Amy helps people with gastrointestinal health, food sensitivities, and metabolic health. Her approach considers the effect of the body on the mind as well as the mind on the body. She is also passionate about the crusade for schools to feed our children healthy, whole foods and is an advocate for establishing community gardens in areas of need.

  1. Blumenthal M. ed. The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council; 2003: 227-234.17.
  2. Chen C, Zhen Y, Yongyu L, et al. Effects of Berberine in the Gastrointestinal Tract—A Review of Actions and Therapeutic Implications. Am J Chinese Medicine. 2014. 42(5): 1053-70.
  3. Kim T, Kang B, Cho D et al. Induction of interleuin-12 production in mouse macrophages by berberine, a benzodioxoloquinolizine alkaloid, deviates CD4+ T cells from a Th2 to a Th1 response. Immunology. 2003. 109: 407-14.
  4. Greuenwald T, ed. PDR for Herbal Medicine. 4th ed. Montvale, NJ: Thomson Healthcare Inc. 2007: 395-99.

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