Photo by Deb Jackson
is endangered and should be cultivated, not harvested from the wild.
puccoon, Eye balm, Eye root, Indian dye, Ground raspberry, Jaundice root
Goldenseal Description and HabitatGoldenseal is a native North American
perennial plant found growing from Vermont to Minnesota and southward. It is
some places due to over harvesting.
Goldenseal is found mostly in shady deep woods and
damp meadows, prefers humus, rich, well drained soil, shade, and can be
cultivated by using seeds or transplanting seedlings. Goldenseal grows to about 18 inches
high, the stem and leaves are hairy and deep green. The large palmate leaves are
serrate, with five to seven lobes, growing near the stem top in nearly alternate
pairs. Blooming occurs from march to May, atop the stem appears a solitary,
small, greenish-white flower which appears to be furry. The fruit is red and
resembles a raspberry. The root is thick and knotted, bright yellow, and has
long thin root hairs. Gather the roots in mid summer and early fall.
Goldenseal has a long
history of use as an alternative medicine. The plants constituents confirm these uses and further
studies indicate the presents of hydrastine, berberine and canadine which are showing
promise in fighting cancer and other diseases. It is used internally only for short
periods of time (3 months or less) as an antiseptic, antibacterial, antispasmodic,
laxative, and astringent. Used as an infusion or weak tea for upset stomach and disorders
of the digestive system, also makes a great mouthwash for sore gums, pyorrhea, mouth
ulcers, and as gargle for sore throat. Douching with the tea can help relieve itching and
vaginal infections. The powdered root may be snuffed or sniffed in the nose for infected
sinuses. Use a few drops warm for ear ache and eye wash for sore eyes and sties. Used
externally as a wash or rub in paste form, for ringworm, athletes foot, infected sores,
and skin diseases. Also used to stop bleeding (homeostatic). A yellow dye is obtained from
the root and the smashed root smeared on the body is said to repel insects.