In the last few health column posts I have covered the upcoming influenza season with news of a mega-vaccine and how to boost the immune system to prevent infection. I also mentioned the preventative and therapeutic properties of Echinacea and in this post I want to follow up with another herb with similar properties but is not quite as popular.
Echinacea is an herb that might help prevent infections from colds and also help alleviate the symptoms if you actually caught one. Goldenseal has similar properties and also has a number of other reported medicinal properties including being anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal as well as being full of nutrients. It contains Vitamins A, C and E, B-complex, calcium, iron and manganese.
One word of warning about Goldenseal, it is a uterine stimulant which means that you should not take if you are pregnant and nor should you give to your pets if they are pregnant as it could induce early labour. You should also not take if you suffer from high blood pressure.
Like Echinacea, Goldenseal was used by the Native American Indians, in particular the Cherokee, for centuries in their pharmacy of natural herbs. Its distinctive yellow colour also made it a perfect dye for clothes and blankets.
Goldenseal is a member of the buttercup family and it is the root that is used in medicine. Originally it was most probably used for infections and to treat irritations of soft tissues, especially the eyes.
The mucous membranes of the body are found in the nasal passages, throat, digestive tract, respiratory tract and urinary tract. They are slimy to the touch in order to prevent bacteria sticking to their surfaces and reproducing and causing infection. They are also the first surfaces to become inflamed and irritated when we catch an infection. Goldenseal works by increasing the immune system energy and also increasing the circulation right under the surface of the membranes, which helps eliminate the waste faster and speed up the healing process.
There are a number of conditions that involve mucous membranes that can be helped by taking the herb – apart from colds and flu – including sinus infections, mild bowel inflammations, upper respiratory infections, urinary tract infections and eye irritations.
Quite a potent combination is to take both Echinacea and Goldenseal when you begin an infection. As you may know, Echinacea stimulates the immune system by increasing the activity of the white blood cells that destroy harmful bacteria and viruses.
- The Goldenseal will help control the inflammation and speed up the immune system process by bringing the white blood cells to the infected site faster.
- To be healthy we need our glandular functions to be working efficiently. Goldenseal increases bile flow (improves appetite), and digestive enzymes which in turn improves the function of the liver and the spleen. It also helps ease peptic ulcers, treats infections of the intestines and aids in digestion.
- Goldenseal does not suit everyone and apart from the general warning above I do not advise using the herb for long periods of time. That applies to most herbs that are used therapeutically.
- Echinacea can be used as a preventative measure during the winter months but Goldenseal should be used when needed in the early stages of an infection until it has cleared. Usually two weeks is sufficient and it is best taken after food.
- Goldenseal can be used as a mouthwash following dental treatment. If you have a severe sore throat then you can dilute two capsules into 4 oz. of hot water, allow to cool, and then use as a gargle.
- Goldenseal is available as a tincture or in capsule form.
Would love your feedback of course.. thank you and have a great week.. Sally