Goldenseal root has been used by Native American healers for a wide range of ailments. The Indians used goldenseal for local inflammations and infections. The plant was also utilized to improve digestion as a bitter tonic and to treat ulcers. An infusion of the root was used as a soothing rinse for eye and skin infections.
The active ingredients of goldenseal include a group of alkaloids, hydrastine and berberine. These alkaloids are strongly astringent and help reduce inflammation of mucous membranes. These alkaloids also have antiseptic properties. Hydrastine has been reported to lower blood pressure and stimulate peristalsis. Hydrastine is also antitussive. Berberine induces the secretion of bile and helps stop bleeding. A great deal of research has shown that berberine has antibacterial, antifungal and antiparasitic activity. Goldenseal stimulates involuntary muscles through an oxytocic effect in the intestinal tract and uterus. The plant has been used during childbirth when the labor is protracted.
Goldenseal root has been recommended for a variety of inflamed mucous membranes, including stomach, intestinal, vaginal and rectal. It has been reported that the plant relieves pains and helps heal wounds and stops bleeding. In addition, the antibacterial action helps reduce or prevent infection of open sores. The Indians used the plant for diarrhea, dyspepsia, liver problems, flatulence, pneumonia, cancer, and rattlesnake bites. This plant nowadays is used as a laxative, and is also considered beneficial for hemorrhoids and mouth sores, as a diuretic, for eye infections, acne, sore throats, to ward off infections, and as an antiseptic.
Goldenseal root is used for inflammation of digestive system and mucous membranes, peptic ulcers, gastritis, flatulence, diarrhea, dyspepsia, for liver and gallbladder problems, skin infections, impetigo, ringworm, eczema, to lower blood pressure, as a sedative, antibacterial, antiviral, vaginitis, gonorrhea, urethritis and rectal inflammations, rhinitis, catarrhal conditions, eye inflammations, disturbances of endocrine, for excessive menstruation and hemorrhaging.