Information about the herb Goldenseal

Hydrastis canadensis , also known as Eye Balm is part of the Ranunculaceae plant family. Native to Canada and Eastern USA, it grows wild in moist, mountainous, woodland areas. 

General Information

Botanical Name: Hydrastis canadensis

Plant Family: Ranunculaceae

Common name: Eye Balm, Eye Root, Ground Raspberry, Indian Dye, Jaundice Root, Orange Root, Turmeric Root, Wild Curcuma, Yellow Puccoon, Yellow Root

History: The name Golden Seal comes from the yellow scars left on the rhizome by the stem that burst forth every spring; these scars look like the imprint of an old-fashioned letter seal and ts roots are bright yellow givingGolden Seal its name. The generic name of the plant Hydrastis comes from two Greek words, signifying ‘water’ and ‘to accomplish’.  

It was introduced into England in 1760.  

Golden Seal was introduced to early settlers by Cherokee Indians who used it

  • as a dye for their clothing and weapons
  • as a stain for their faces
  • as a wash for skin diseases
  • for wounds
  • for sore, inflamed eyes 

The use of Golden Seal flourished after the Civil War and it was an ingredient in many patent medicines

Tradition: In Wiccan rites Golden Seal is used in spells for

  • healing 
  • prosperity

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Plant Constituents of Goldenseal

Contains:  Golden Seal contains the alkaloids

  • Berberine [3-4%] (a bitter principle that aids digestion and has a sedative action on the central nervous system)
  • Canadine
  • Hydrastine [2-4%]

It also contains:

  • albumin
  • fatty matter
  • resin
  • lignin
  • starch
  • sugar
  • volatile oil


Golden Seal acts particularly on all mucous membranes and is 

  • alterative [an agent that produces gradual beneficial change in the body, usually by improving the nutrition, without having any marked specific effect or abnormal evacuation]
  • antibacterial [an agent that destroys bacteria; bactericide]
  • antibiotic [an agent that destroys or stops the growth of micro-organisms]
  • anti-catarrhal
  • anti-inflammatory [an agent to ease inflammation]
  • antiperiodic [an agent which counteracts periodic or intermittent diseases such as malaria etc.]
  • antiseptic [an agent for destroying or inhibiting pathogenic or putrefactive bacteria]
  • antispasmodic [an agent that relieves or checks muscular spasms and cramps]
  • astringent [an agent that contracts organic tissue, reducing secretions or discharges]
  • detergent [an agent that cleanses wounds and sores of diseased or dead matter]
  • diuretic [an agent that increases the secretion and expulsion of urine]
  • emollient [an agent used externally to soften and soothe]
  • laxative [an agent promoting evacuation of the bowels; a mild purgative]
  • muscle stimulant [an agent that excites or quickens the functional activity of the tissues giving more energy]
  • soothing
  • stomachic [an agent that strengthens, stimulates or tones the stomach]
  • tonic [an agent that strengthens or invigorates organs or the entire organism].

Golden Seal is a wonderful, natural, powerful antibiotic. The herb:

  • goes straight to the bloodstream and eliminates infection in the body
  • enables the liver to recover
  • when taken in combination with other herbs will enhance the properties of the other herbs
  • works wonders in combination with Echinacea and Zinc particularly at the onset of cold and flu symptoms, especially coughs and sore throats 

Golden Seal soothes and heals the surfaces of the body and is used externally as a wash for: 

  • acne
  • athlete’s foot
  • bathing the eyes [with weak infusion of tea] or Golden Seal ointment, often combined with Eyebright
  • canker sores
  • ear infections
  • eczema
  • herpes
  • psoriasis
  • ringworm
  • skin problems
  • sores

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Usage of Goldenseal

Medicinal Parts Used:  Whole Root. As it has been collected to the point of near extinction Golden Sealsupplies are diminishing and now it is mostly wildcrafted.

Golden Seal is used for:

Bacterial and Viral Conditions

  • antibacterial remedy for the mucous membranes of the body
  • destroys many types of bacterial and viral infections

Blood Conditions

  • ability to tighten blood vessels
  • hemorrhages

Cardiovascular Conditions

  • promotes the functioning capacity of the heart

Female Conditions

  • childbirth (induces contractions)
  • controls heavy menstrual and postpartum (after birth) bleeding 
  • menstrual disorders
  • uterine conditions such as menorrhagea (excessive menstruation)

Gastrointestinal Conditions

  • all stomach ailments
  • astringent on the mucous membranes that line the gut
  • chronic inflammation of colon or rectum
  • disordered and debilitated states of the digestive system
  • habitual constipation
  • healthy functioning of the colon
  • increases digestive secretions
  • colitis
  • dyspepsia
  • gastric catarrh
  • gastritis
  • healthy functioning of the colon
  • loss of appetite
  • peptic ulcers
  • promotes the production of saliva, bile, and other digestive enzymes
  • reduces gastric inflammation
  • tonic to mucous membranes of digestive system
  • various gastric disorders

Genitourinary Conditions

  • stimulates the kidney function
  • urinary infections
  • various genitourinary disorders

Glandular Conditions

  • healthy functioning of the pancreas
  • promotes the functioning capacity of the lymphatic system
  • healthy functioning of the spleen, pancreas, and colon

Immune System Conditions

  • strengthens the immune system

Inflammatory Conditions

  • inflamed catarrhal conditions of the mucous membranes
  • rheumatic and muscular pain

Liver Conditions

  • biliary tract conditions
  • healthy functioning of the liver
  • liver troubles

Metabolic Conditions

  • potentizes insulin

Respiratory Tract Conditions

  • infection, inflammation or congestion of lungs, throat and sinuses
  • promotes the functioning capacity of the respiratory system
  • symptoms of the cold and flu

An antiseptic mouthwash for: 

  • gum disease
  • inflamed gums
  • pyorrhea
  • sore throats
  • throat infections
  • tonsillitis


  • chronic alcoholism, combined with Cayenne
  • cleanses vital organs
  • disordered and debilitated states of the mucous membranes
  • healthy functioning of the spleen
  • night sweats
  • relieves congestion
  • tonic to all mucous membranes
  • vomiting

Externally: An infusion of Golden Seal  is used as a good vaginal douche for

  • leuccorrhea
  • yeast infections


Recommended dosage is as follows:

  • 25-50mL per week of 1:5 fluid extract

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Caution: The use of very large doses or extended use is not recommended. Children and older adults should take smaller doses. 

Golden Seal should not be used:

  • by children under two
  • by pregnant women because it can induce contractions 

Eating the fresh plant causes:

  • inflammation of mucous tissue
  • ulcerations

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Global Herbal Supplies has Golden Seal available in the following forms: