Friday, April 18, 2014

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)

DESCRIPTION:  It is a small perennial herb, with a horizontal, irregularly knotted, bright yellow root-stock, from 1/4 inch to 3/4 inch thick, giving off slender roots below and marked with scars of the flower-stems of previous years. The flowering stem, which is pushed up early in the spring, is from 6 to 12 inches high, erect, cylindrical, hairy, with downward-pointing hairs, especially above, surrounded at the base with a few short, brown scales. It bears two prominently-veined and wrinkled, dark green, hairy leaves, placed high up, the lower one stalked, the upper stalkless, roundish in outline, but palmately cut into 5 to 7 lobes, the margins irregularly and finely toothed. There is one solitary radical leaf on a long foot-stalk, similar in form to the stem leaves, but larger, when full-grown being about 9 inches across.

The flower, which is produced in April, is solitary, terminal, erect, small, with three small greenish-white sepals, falling away immediately after expansion, no petals and numerous stamens. The fruit is a head of small, fleshy, oblong, crimson berries, tipped with the persistent styles and containing one or two hard black, shining seeds. It is ripe in July and has much the appearance of a Raspberry (whence the name 'Ground Raspberry'), but is not edible.

Golden Seal belongs to the Buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, though its leaves and fruit somewhat resemble those of the Raspberry and the Rubus genus generally.

HISTORY:  American Indians used goldenseal as a medication for inflammatory internal conditions such as respiratory, digestive and genito-urinary tract inflammation induced by allergy or infection. The Cherokee used the roots as a wash for local inflammations, a decoction for general debility, dyspepsia, and to improve appetite. The Iroquois used a decoction of the root for whooping cough, diarrhea, liver disease, fever, sour stomach, flatulence, pneumonia, earache, with whiskey for heart trouble and a wash for sore eyes.

It was not until 1798 that its medicinal virtues began to attract attention. From then on its reputation as a powerful healing herb spread, both in England and America, and by about 1850 it had became an important article of commerce. It was popularly used as a bitter stomach digestive (to help stimulate digestion and improve appetite), to treat skin inflammations, and those of the eyes such as conjunctivitis. It was also used for inflammation of the mucous membranes of the throat and digestive system. It?s traditional uses also include the treatment of peptic ulcers, gastritis, dyspepsia and colitis. It is said to stimulate appetite and generally have a toning effect on the whole body has also been used for anorexia nervosa. It is also said to be effective for treatment of catarrhal conditions of the upper respiratory tract and inflammations of the urinary tract.

COMMON NAMES:  Eye Root, Goldenseal, Ground Raspberry, Indian Dye, Indian Turmeric, Jaundice Root, Orange Root, Yellow Puccoon, Yellow Root

LIFE CYCLE: Perennial, Zones 5-8.


LIGHT/SOIL REQUIREMENTS: Goldenseal grows best in its natural habitat under a hardwood canopy with at least 75 % shade, comprised preferably of oak, maple, sycamore, or basswood trees. Avoid pine, spruce, hemlock, red cedar, and other conifers due to their shallow root systems (which compete with goldenseal for nutrients). You can also use artificial shade if you pref er to grow the plant as a row crop.

A system that works well is wood lath or slat shade frames erected over the beds and supported by a framework of strong poles tall enough to walk under. The laths or slats are nailed so that about ⅔-¾ of the direct sunlight is prevented from reaching the plants. In certain home garden situations, you can also plant goldenseal close to the shady north side of the house. Goldenseal prefers a light loam soil that has high humus content and a pH of 5.5-6.5. Work the beds six inches deep, raising the center of the beds to prevent water from collecting around the plants. Amend heavy or clay soils with leaf mold (rotting hardwood tree leaves) or well-decomposed compost to lighten the soil and improve the drainage. Good drainage is critical to ensure healthy goldenseal plants.

CULTURE:  Plant spacing depends on how long you intend to leave plants in the ground before harvesting. Older plants will develop larger roots and require more space. If you intend to harvest after three years of growth, space the plants 6" apart in rows that are 8" a  part; after four years, plant 8" by 8"; more than four years, plant 8" by 10". Cover the rootstock with 2" of soil. Keep well-weeded, but take care in weeding around young plants to avoid disturbing the roots. Once goldenseal is well established, apply mulch to prevent weed growth.

HARVEST:  Plants grown from root divisions may  be harvested after three to five years of growth. Harvest roots in the fall (September or October) after the tops have died back. Clean roots thoroughly by washing, being careful not to remove any rootlets.  Place roots in a single layer and dry on screens in a warm, but not hot (maximum of 100° F/38 C), ventilated place that is out of direct sunlight. Expect a drying time of about 15 to 30 days.

MEDICINAL BENEFITS:  Goldenseal's numerous uses are attributed to its antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. It soothes irritated mucus membranes aiding the eyes, ears, nose and throat. Taken at the first signs of respiratory problems, colds or flu, Goldenseal helps can help to prevent further symptoms from developing. It has also been used to help reduce fevers, and relive congestion and excess mucous.

Goldenseal cleanses and promotes healthy glandular functions by increasing bile flow and digestive enzymes, therefore regulating healthy liver and spleen functions. It can relieve constipation and may also be used to treat infections of the bladder and intestines as well.

Goldenseal contains calcium, iron, manganese, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, B-complex, and other nutrients and minerals. The roots and rhizomes of goldenseal contain many isoquinoline alkaloids, including hydrastine, berberine, canadine, canadaline, and l-hydrastine as well as traces of essential oil, fatty oil and resin. It is believed that the high content of these alkaloids gives its antibiotic, anti-infective and immune stimulating qualities.

In particular it is the alkaloid berberine that is most likely responsible for Goldenseal's effectiveness against bacteria, protozoa, fungi, Streptococci and it also promotes easier removal of the bacteria by inhibiting their ability to adhere to tissue surfaces. Berberine is also anti-fungal and strongly anti-diarrheal. It aids against the infection of mucous membranes such as the lining of the oral cavity, throat, sinus, bronchi, genito-urinary tract and gastrointestinal tract. Clinical studies have shown it is effective in the treatment of diarrhea cause by E. coli (traveller's diarrhea), Shigella dysenteriae (shigellosis), salmonella paratyphi (food poisoning), giardia lamblia (giardiasis), and vibrio cholerae (cholera).

Goldenseal may also help with allergic rhinitis, hay fever, laryngitis, hepatitis, cystitis, and alcoholic liver disease.

It has proven its value in cases of diarrhea and haemorrhoids. Its astringent properties have also been employed in cases of excessive menstruation and internal bleeding. Externally, a wash can be prepared to treat skin conditions such as eczema and ringworm, as well as wounds and badly healing sores, or used as drops in cases of earache and conjunctivitis. The decoction is also said to be effective as a douche to treat trichomonas and thrush. As a gargle it can be employed in cases of gum infections and sore throats. The application of a paste or poultice containing goldenseal root is sometimes recommended for boils, abscesses and carbuncles on the grounds that Goldenseal helps to kill bacteria and reduce inflammation.

MEDICINAL WARNINGS:  Goldenseal stimulates contraction of the uterus and thus should be avoided during pregnancy.

NUTRITIONAL  VALUE: Aluminum  32.5, Ash 6.6%, Calcium 297 mg, Calories 0.58/gm, Chromium 0.09 mg, Cobalt 1.53 mg, Crude Fiber 12.3%, Dietry Fiber 32.9%, Fat 2.3%, Iron 6.1mg, Magnesium 294mg,  Manganese 0.85mg, Niacin 6.20mg, Phosphorus 123mg, Potassium 618mg,  Protein 11.2%, Riboflavin 0.20mg, Selenium 0.10mg, Thiamine 0.26mg, Tin 0.93mg, Vita A 491iu, Vita C 68.1mg, and Zinc 0.16mg per 100 grams.

MYSTICAL:  With a masculine gender, Goldenseal's magical properties are tied to Healing and Money.  Goldenseal is bound to the element Fire and there is some debate over which planet it may be aligned to; Venus or the Sun.  It is an herb of attraction, and is used in spells, rituals, and candle magick to attract money, wealth, success, prosperity, and before embarking on business dealings and financial matters by sprinkling some onto the base of a gold or green candle. It is also suggested you wear some in an amulet around your check or upon your wrist.  It is recommended that Goldenseal is burned as an incense to deepen mediation. Sprinkle some dried goldenseal in your cleansing water to purify your home nad release negativity. Lastly, it can be used in just about any charm or spell to increase the power of that spell.


Johnny's Selected Seeds:  Sells two-year old root divisions.

Prairie Moon Nursery:  Sells seeds and roots.

No comments:

Post a Comment