What Is Yellow Root Tea?


Yellow root tea is used in alternative medicine to treat a variety of ailments and conditions. Yellow root has been used medicinally in North America for hundreds of years, currently grown commercially through the United States. With its popularity and production, yellow root is considered endangered in some areas of the country as the demand has exceeded its growth.


  • Yellow root, commonly known as goldenseal, is a plant that grows wild in parts of the United States and commercially across the country. The U.S. Department of Agriculture lists this root as endangered in many states in the Mid Atlantic, Midwest and Southern regions. The plant grows anywhere from 6 to 14 inches tall with small white flowers and green fruit that turns red in July. Named for its distinct yellow roots, this herb is dried and used to make teas, tinctures, powders, pills and tonics. The Latin name for yellow root is hydrastis canadensis.


  • An article originally published in the Western Druggist by American Pharmacist John Uri Lloyd indicates the first accounts of yellow root use are linked to the Cherokee Indians, a large North American tribe. Its yellow roots create dye used for baskets and are used medicinally as a bitter tonic in Cherokee medicine. As settlers learned more about Indian use of herbs as a domestic remedy for ailments, yellow root gradually received the attention of the traditional medical community in 1798.


  • According to Internet herbal resources such as Everygreenherb.com, yellow root is sometimes combined with Echinacea as a homeopathic treatment for colds. As an anti-inflammatory and natural antibiotic, yellow root tea is used in alternative medicine in the treatment of sinus infections, bladder issues, chest congestion and upper respiratory tract infections. Yellow root tea is considered a liver stimulant and useful in soothing mucus membranes and assisting digestion. While yellow root tea has been noted as a popular remedy for the appearance of drug traces in a urine sample, no scientific or homeopathic research has supported this belief.


  • As alternative medicine, or homeopathy, has grown in popularity, yellow root has become one of the most popular herbs in the United States. With an estimated 250,000 pounds of yellow root sold annually, the price for yellow root by the pound has grown since 1990 and the plant has become endangered in many areas where it once grew wild. In 2006, Janice Boling reporting for the North Georgia News found yellow root pricing grew from $10 a pound to $30 a pound, and in some areas to as much as $100 a pound. As of 2009, yellow root tea is commonly sold as goldenseal tea. It can be purchased online and in local herbal or holistic stores for approximately $10 a box.


  • While yellow root consumption in tea or other forms is considered safe for short-term use, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has indicated there is no general information available about the safety of high dosages or long-term use. While used in alternative medicine to treat a variety of ailments, there is little scientific evidence from the traditional medical community to support many of the health benefits noted here. Yellow root or goldenseal should be avoided during pregnancy or if you have high blood pressure. It is recommended that individuals consult a physician before using herbal remedies to treat serious conditions.


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