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Goldenseal Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings



  • Goldenseal is a potent plant and must be used with care. Do not take on a daily basis for more than a week at a time. In high doses, goldenseal can irritate the skin, mouth, throat, and vagina. It may cause nausea and diarrhea. If any of these develop, stop taking immediately.
    - Murray, M. -- The Pill Book Guide to Natural Medicines: Vitamins, Minerals, Nutritional Supplements, Herbs, and Other Natural Products. -- Bantam, 2002. 541, 681.

  • Do not use during pregnancy; it may stimulate the uterus. Do not use goldenseal without consulting a physician if you have had heart disease, diabetes, glaucoma, a stroke, or high blood pressure. It stimulates the heart muscle, and the result is increased blood pressure. Do not give goldenseal to children under two. Start with small doses for older children and adults.
    - Murray, M. -- The Pill Book Guide to Natural Medicines: Vitamins, Minerals, Nutritional Supplements, Herbs, and Other Natural Products. -- Bantam, 2002. 541, 681.

  • The main alkaloid constituent of Goldenseal is berberine. The topical application of Goldenseal or berberine to the skin or eyes raises the possibility that an adverse phototoxic reaction may result from an interaction between the alkaloid and light.These findings suggest that exposure to sunlight or artificial light sources emitting UVA should be avoided when topical preparations derived from Goldenseal or containing berberine are used.
    - Chem Res Toxicol 2001 Nov;14(11):1529-34 -- Photochemistry and photocytotoxicity of alkaloids from Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.) 1. Berberine. -- Inbaraj JJ, Kukielczak BM, Bilski P, Sandvik SL, Chignell CF.

  • Report describes the case of a 32-year-old woman who suffered a phototoxic reaction after taking a dietary supplement containing ginseng, goldenseal, bee pollen, and other ingredients. On presentation, she had a pruritic, erythematous rash, localized to the sun-exposed surfaces of her neck and extremities. She had no significant past medical history and was not taking any other medications. The skin rash slowly resolved after discontinuation of the supplement and with treatment including subcutaneous and topical corticosteroids. Although the individual ingredients in this dietary supplement have not been associated with cases of photosensitivity, it is possible that the combination of ingredients may have interacted to cause this toxic reaction.
    - J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 2003;41(6):865-7. -- Photosensitivity reaction in a woman using an herbal supplement containing ginseng, goldenseal, and bee pollen. -- Palanisamy A, Haller C, Olson KR.








last update: February 2014



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