Herbalists use the dried and powdered rhizomes and roots of goldenseal, a small perennial with white flowers and red berries, to treat several respiratory and skin infections. The herb acts as a stimulant and seems to affect the body's mucous membranes by drying up secretions, reducing inflammation and fighting infection through the mild antimicrobial action of its active ingredient, berberine. Goldenseal also aids digestion by promoting the production of saliva, bile and other digestive enzymes. In addition it may control postpartum bleeding by means of its astringent action.
Over the counter:
The dry root is available in bulk, capsules and tincture.
Tea: 1 cup boiling water poured onto 2 tsp. goldenseal, then steeped for 10 to 15 minutes.
Douche: 1 tbsp. powdered herb simmered in 1 pint water for 10 minutes, then used as warm as is tolerable.
Combinations: Used with meadowsweet and chamomile for stomach problems. For a skin wash, mixed with distilled witch hazel; for ear infections, drops made using goldenseal and mullein. See your herbalist for exact instructions.