What Are the Benefits of Goldenseal Root?


Goldenseal is a principal herb of Native American medicine and was traditionally used for a variety of conditions ranging from eye to skin problems. It was valued for its antibacterial properties. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, its active component, berberine, has been studied thoroughly and shows benefit for many conditions. They are unsure if goldenseal supplements can exhibit the same effect when used internally and if it is as effective as berberine alone. Its topical applications have shown to be effective. The herb itself has not been studied extensively, and its use is largely based on traditional medicinal practices.


  • This compound exhibits activity against a variety of bacteria and a number of other harmful organisms that cause a variety of health problems ranging from yeast infections to viruses. Berberine also acts on white blood cells to help them fight infection and strengthen the immune system overall. It also dilates blood vessels, potentially making it a useful treatment for certain heart conditions.


  • Goldenseal is touted as a strong immune booster, and many people take it at the start of a cold. It is often combined with the other popular Native American immune booster, echinacea. It does contain active components that demonstrate ability to boost activity of white blood cells to fight infection and generally strengthen the immune system.

Topical Applications

  • Goldenseal, when applied topically to the skin, can treat a variety of problems triggered by bacteria and infection. Its strong antiseptic properties make it suitable for cleaning cuts and scrapes. This herb can also act against pinkeye and other eye problems as well as bothersome skin conditions. It also soothes inflamed mucous membranes in the nostrils, making it a good treatment for sinusitis. This herb can also treat earaches.

Oral Problems

  • Goldenseal is a useful remedy for a variety of oral problems. Used as a mouthwash, it can ease a sore throat. Its strong antibacterial properties fight bacteria that contribute to gum disease and denture odor; use as a mouthwash. If the gums are inflamed, pouring some tincture on a gauze pad or cotton ball and placing it between the lips and gum can ease inflammation.


  • In capsule form, take 500 to 2,000 mg three times a day. Take 3 to 7 ml of tincture once a day. For skin problems, cuts and scrapes, place the extract on a clean cloth and apply to the problem area. For earaches, mix a few drops of tincture with olive oil to make ear drops. Make a mouth- or eyewash with 1/4 cup of water, 1/2 tsp. of salt and the contents of one capsule of powder.

    Do not use if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have high blood pressure. The tincture form can cause stomach irritation, so do not use if you have upset stomach, diarrhea or heartburn.

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