Goldenseal, Hydrastis canadensis: in the herbalist's medicine cabinet
by Tonya Banbury
Goldenseal tincture (goldenseal extract mixed with alcohol) makes an excellent natural treatment for earaches. Mix 3 to 4 drops of tincture with 1 tablespoon olive oil and place a few drops of the warm mixture directly into the ear.
For sores in the mouth, including canker sores and fever blisters, brew a cup of tea, and gargle 2 to 3 times a day. For tired eyes, sties or conjunctivitis (pinkeye), soak a cloth in goldenseal tea and swab the eyes several times a day.
Goldenseal is generally safe and side effects are rare. Some people may experience irritation of the throat and mouth, or stomach upset and nausea. For that reason, Goldenseal shouldn't be used more than two weeks at a time. The herb shouldn't be given to young children and it should be avoided by pregnant women and nursing mothers. Be sure to read the directions on the bottle, and don't take a higher dose than recommended. Keep in mind the liquid types of goldenseal are yellow-orange and can stain. TB
Goldenseal, Hydrastis canadensis, is one of the most commonly used drugs in the herbalist's medicine cabinet. Native to the northeastern US and southeastern Canada, this medicinal perennial plant was introduced to early settlers by Cherokee Indians who used it as a wash for skin infections, injuries, and for sore, inflamed eyes. Although Goldenseal is an herb related to the buttercup, the herbal benefits come from the thick yellow root (hence its name), which is dried and powdered for use in herbal remedies. Wild goldenseal is endangered because it has been over-harvested and is now cultivated specifically for medicinal purposes.
Goldenseal is considered to be a broad-spectrum plant. Used internally to treat digestive secretions, Goldenseal astringes the mucous membranes that line the gut and checks inflammation. Since it stimulates appetite, it is effective when a low appetite is being experienced, and acts as a mild laxative, while assisting with peptic ulcers. Goldenseal also boosts digestion by enhancing the production of saliva, bile, and some other digestive enzymes. It is effective for use to stop diarrhea, as well as bleeding—especially after giving birth. Externally, Goldenseal can be used for disorders such as eczema, ear inflammation, conjunctivitis, vaginal inflammations, as well as gum infections.
Goldenseal has healing properties that are terrific for healing minor skin wounds. Make sure the skin is clean and dry, and then apply a generous layer of goldenseal ointment, cream or powder. Goldenseal will not only help the wound heal faster, but has antibiotic properties that can prevent infection. You can also soak a clean cloth in goldenseal tea and press the damp cloth over a wound.
Tonya Banbury is an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer with Mecklenburg County, NC. Her series of articles on Medicinal Herbs: Essential Oils is based upon documented research and personal usage experience.
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