Goldenseal was used by the Cherokee Indians to treat indigestion, lack of appetite, infection and even cancer, whilst the Iroquois Indians used it to prepare infusions to treat whooping cough, liver infections, intermittent fever and heart disease, or to bathe skin conditions and eye infections or badly healing wounds. They also used the sap of the deep yellow root to dye skin and garments.
White immigrants adopted these medicinal uses. During the 19th century goldenseal was an extremely popular medicinal plant used by North American eclectic doctors, who largely made use of herbal remedies. This tradition came to an end in 1907, when the industrial sponsors Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller decided to concentrate their support on classical medicine only. Goldenseal was listed in the "United States Pharmacopeia" until the year 1926. The plant was introduced to Germany in 1880, although its uses were restricted to the treatment of gynaecological illnesses. Nowadays goldenseal is highly valued in its habitat once more.
The meaning of Linné's name, Hydrastis, is unclear. The first part of the word is said to originate from hydor, meaning «water». According to Tschirch, the second part of the word refers to rheo, meaning «to flow or to pour» or possibly drao «to complete», on account of its diuretic properties. Others believe it refers to the Greek word, aste, meaning «native» which, together, would produce the term «inhabits water».
Blossoming shoots produce a flowering spike with tiny flowers sprouting to a height of 20 to 30 cm from a heavily rooted, sometimes densely tuberous, creeping rhizome. The flowering spike consists of three wide, egg-shaped, greenish-white sepals and numerous stamen as well as at least twelve ovaries. These produce a head of tiny red berries which looks something like a blackberry. The shoot bears two hand-shaped, deep-lobed, dark green leaves with sharply serrated edges. The lower leaf is stemmed, the upper one sits directly on the stalk.
Goldenseal flowers from June to July.
Goldenseal originates from the north-eastern parts of North America and even occurs in the far north. It grows in shaded areas in damp woodland and prefers soil rich in humus.
This once abundant is difficult to find nowadays; however, crops are specially cultivated for the production of herbal remedies.
A.Vogel/Bioforce uses in accordance with the actual HAB a homeopathic dilution produced from the dried rhizoms of Hydrastis canadensis that have been harvested in autumn following production of the seeds.
In its native land it is usually administered in the form of tea, tinctures, capsules or tablets.