Goldenseal, Hydrastis canadensis, is one of our most valuable native herbs. Goldenseal is one of the most powerful antibiotics in the herbal world. It can be used both internally and externally to treat infections of various kinds. Goldenseal acts as a tonic to the body’s mucous membranes. Because it combines the antibiotic effect with tissue healing and astringency, it is especially helpful for healing the stomach lining, lung tissue during colds and bronchitis, and vaginal infections.
Goldenseal is quite endangered due to overharvesting, so it’s appropriate that a little goes a long way with this herb- you don’t want to use too much! It’s also appropriate that Goldenseal is a short-term herb only to be used for acute conditions.
Internally, Goldenseal is commonly used for chronic inflammation of the colon, hemorrhoids, and to expel excess mucous in the body. Externally, Goldenseal can be used for topical skin infections, eczema, ringworm, pruritis, earache and conjunctivitis.
Goldenseal can be grown from seed, but 2-year old roots are also available for purchase to give you a head start.
Goldenseal an herbaceous perennial, part of the undergrowth in moist, rich hardwood and mixed pine forests. It prefers partial to full shade, good air circulation, and highly acidic, loamy, well-drained soil. Plant it around pine trees if possible, or work pine needles into the soil where you plant. Goldenseal prefers lots of water. Do not try to harvest rhizomes for the first 3 years, and then unearth them in the Fall. It must be said that sometimes, for whatever reason, it just won’t grow! So don’t take it personally. Do try, try again, as this herb is quite endangered due to overharvesting. The yellow roots and rhizomes can be harvested in the Fall after the plant is three years old. Cut the roots and rhizomes into 1/4” or smaller pieces to dry.
Caution: Goldenseal should not be used on children or if you are pregnant or nursing. Because Goldenseal is an antibiotic, do not take it for long periods of time. It is best used for acute infections, not as a daily tonic.
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