Goldenseal

What other names is Goldenseal known by?

Chinese Goldenseal, Eye Balm, Eye Root, Fard Inolien, Framboise de Terre, Goldenroot, Goldsiegel, Ground Raspberry, Hydraste, Hydraste du Canada, Hydrastis canadensis, Indian Dye, Indian Plant, Indian Tumeric, Jaundice Root, Orange Root, Racine à la Jaunisse, Racine Orange, Sceau D'Or, Sello de Oro, Turmeric Root, Warnera, Wild Curcuma, Yellow Indian Paint, Yellow Paint, Yellow Puccoon, Yellow Root.

What is Goldenseal?

Goldenseal is an herb. The dried root is used to make medicine.

Goldenseal is used for the common cold and other upper respiratory tract infections, as well as stuffy nose and hay fever. Some people use goldenseal for digestive disorders including stomach pain and swelling (gastritis), peptic ulcers, anal ulcers, colitis (inflammation of the colon), diarrhea, constipation, hemorrhoids, and intestinal gas.

Goldenseal is used for urinary tract infections (UTIs), internal bleeding, child birth, bleeding after childbirth, liver disorders, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), jaundice, gonorrhea, fever, pneumonia, malaria, whooping cough, to hide urine tests for illicit (illegal) drugs, and an eating disorder called anorexia.

Women use goldenseal for vaginal pain and swelling and problems with menstruation.

Goldenseal is applied to the skin for rashes, ulcers, wound infections, itching, eczema, acne, dandruff, ringworm, herpes blisters, and cold sores. It is used as a mouthwash for sore gums and mouth.

Some people use goldenseal as an eyewash for eye inflammation and eye infections called conjunctivitis, or "pink eye."

Goldenseal is used in the ears for ringing, earache, and deafness.

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Masking illegal drugs in urine tests. Goldenseal is often promoted to mask illicit drugs in the urine. But drinking one gallon of water with goldenseal or adding goldenseal tea to a urine sample does not seem to cause a false-negative result on drug tests for amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, opiates, phencyclidine, and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

More evidence is needed to rate goldenseal for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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How does Goldenseal work?

Goldenseal contains the chemical berberine, which might have effects against bacteria and fungi. For example, it can prevent the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli) from binding to urinary tract walls. Berberine also has properties that can lower blood pressure and improve irregular heartbeats. In addition, early research suggests that berberine can lower blood sugar and "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

However, many of the important chemicals in goldenseal are poorly absorbed when taken by mouth and might not reach the concentrations needed to have significant effects in humans. So, it is unknown whether goldenseal has the same effects as berberine.

Are there safety concerns?

Goldenseal is POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults when taken by mouth as a single dose. There is not enough reliable information to know if goldenseal is safe for long-term use.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Using goldenseal during pregnancy or breast-feeding is LIKELY UNSAFE for the infant. A hazardous chemical in goldenseal can cross the placenta and can also find its way into breast milk. Brain damage (kernicterus) has developed in newborn infants exposed to goldenseal. Do not use goldenseal during pregnancy or breast-feeding.

Children: Don't use goldenseal in newborn babies. It is LIKELY UNSAFE for them. It might cause brain damage (kernicterus).

Bleeding conditions: Use goldenseal with caution. Taking goldenseal might increase the risk of bleeding in individuals with bleeding disorders.

Diabetes: Goldenseal contains berberine. Berberine can lower blood sugar. In theory goldenseal may lower blood sugar and cause blood sugar to become too low if taken by people with diabetes who are controlling their blood sugar with insulin or medications. Use with caution in people with diabetes.

High bilirubin levels in the blood in infants: Bilirubin is a chemical that is produced when the old red blood cells break down. It is normally removed by the liver. Berberine, a chemical in goldenseal, may keep the liver from removing bilirubin fast enough. This can cause brain problems, especially in infants with high levels of bilirubin in the blood. Avoid using.

Surgery: Goldenseal might increase the risk for bleeding. People who take goldenseal should stop at least 2 weeks before surgery.

Are there any interactions with medications?



Amlodipine (Norvasc)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Amlodipine (Norvasc) lowers blood pressure. Berberine, a compound in goldenseal, might also lower blood pressure. In theory, taking goldenseal with amlodipine (Norvasc) might lower blood pressure too much. People taking goldenseal along with amlodipine (Norvasc) should monitor their blood pressure.



Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

The body breaks down cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) to get rid of it. Goldenseal might decrease how fast the body breaks down cyclosporine. This might cause there to be too much cyclosporine in the body and could potentially cause side effects.



Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, and others)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

The body breaks down dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, others) to get rid of it. Goldenseal contains berberine, which might decrease how quickly the body breaks down dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, others). Taking goldenseal while taking dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, others) might increase the effects and side effects of dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, others).



Digoxin (Lanoxin)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Taking goldenseal with digoxin (Lanoxin) might cause slight increases in digoxin levels in the body. If you take digoxin, talk to your healthcare provider before taking goldenseal.



Losartan (Cozaar)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

The liver activates losartan (Cozaar) to make it work. Goldenseal contains berberine, which might decrease how quickly the body breaks down losartan (Cozaar). Taking goldenseal while taking losartan (Cozaar) might decrease the effects of losartan.



Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C9 [CYP2C9] substrates)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Goldenseal might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking goldenseal along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking goldenseal, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver. Some medications changed by the liver include celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Voltaren), fluvastatin (Lescol), glipizide (Glucotrol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), irbesartan (Avapro), losartan (Cozaar), phenytoin (Dilantin), piroxicam (Feldene), tamoxifen (Nolvadex), tolbutamide (Tolinase), torsemide (Demadex), and S-warfarin (Coumadin).



Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) substrates)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Goldenseal might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking goldenseal along with some medications that are changed by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of your medication. Before taking goldenseal, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications that are changed by the liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), clozapine (Clozaril), codeine, desipramine (Norpramin), donepezil (Aricept), fentanyl (Duragesic), flecainide (Tambocor), fluoxetine (Prozac), meperidine (Demerol), methadone (Dolophine), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), olanzapine (Zyprexa), ondansetron (Zofran), tramadol (Ultram), trazodone (Desyrel), and others.



Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2E1 [CYP2E1] substrates)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Goldenseal might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking goldenseal along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking goldenseal, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver. Some medications changed by the liver include acetaminophen, chlorzoxazone (Parafon Forte), ethanol, theophylline, and anesthetics such as enflurane (Ethrane), halothane (Fluothane), isoflurane (Forane), and methoxyflurane (Penthrane).



Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Goldenseal might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking goldenseal along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking goldenseal, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications changed by the liver include lovastatin (Mevacor), clarithromycin (Biaxin), indinavir (Crixivan), sildenafil (Viagra), ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Sporanox), fexofenadine (Allegra), triazolam (Halcion), and many others.



Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Goldenseal contains berberine, which might lower blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. In theory, taking goldenseal along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.
Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (Diabeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), and others.



Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Goldenseal contains berberine, which might lower blood pressure. In theory, taking goldenseal along with medications used to lower high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.
Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.



Medications moved by pumps in cells (P-Glycoprotein Substrates)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Some medications are moved by pumps in cells. Goldenseal might make these pumps less active and increase the amount of some medications that get absorbed by the body. This might increase the amount of some medications in the body, which could lead to more side effects. But there is not enough information to know if this is a big concern.

Some medications that are moved by these pumps include etoposide, paclitaxel, vinblastine, vincristine, vindesine, ketoconazole, itraconazole, amprenavir, indinavir, nelfinavir, saquinavir, cimetidine, ranitidine, diltiazem, verapamil, corticosteroids, erythromycin, cisapride (Propulsid), fexofenadine (Allegra), cyclosporine, loperamide (Imodium), quinidine, and others.



Midazolam (Versed)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

The body breaks down midazolam (Versed) to get rid of it. Goldenseal contains berberine, which might decrease how quickly the body breaks down midazolam (Versed). Taking goldenseal along with midazolam (Versed) might increase the effects and side effects of midazolam (Versed).



Pentobarbital
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Pentobarbital is a medication that can cause sleepiness. Goldenseal contains berberine, which might also cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Taking goldenseal with pentobarbital might cause too much sleepiness.



Sedative medications (CNS depressants)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Goldenseal contains berberine, which might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. In theory, taking goldenseal along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.
Some sedative medications include benzodiazepines, pentobarbital (Nembutal), phenobarbital (Luminal), secobarbital (Seconal), thiopental (Pentothal), fentanyl (Duragesic, Sublimaze), morphine, propofol (Diprivan), and others.



Tacrolimus
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Tacrolimus is an immunosuppressant drug. It is removed from the body by the liver. Goldenseal contains berberine, which might decrease how quickly the body removes tacrolimus. Taking goldenseal with tacrolimus might increase the effects and side effects of tacrolimus.



Oseltamivir
Interaction Rating: Minor Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Oseltamivir is a prodrug, which means that it is converted to an active drug after being taken into the body. Taking goldenseal with oseltamivir might prevent oseltamivir from being converted to its active form. However, it is not clear if this interaction is severe enough to inhibit the effects of oseltamivir.

Dosing considerations for Goldenseal.

The appropriate dose of goldenseal depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for goldenseal. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Last Editorial Review: 3/29/2011

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