Happiness is good health and a bad memory.
Hydrastis canadensis. Goldenseal. Yellow Root. N.O. Ranunculaceae [Hydrastidaceae].
CLASSIFICATION “The Ranunculaceae is related to the Berberidaceae, particularly with those herbaceous genera of the Berberidaceae that are often segregated as the family Podophyllaceae. Hydrastis canadensis from Japan and eastern North America is somewhat intermediate between the Paeoniaceae, Ranunculaceae and Berberidaceae, and is also often put in its own family, the Hydrastidaceae. It differs from the Paeoniaceae in having palmately lobed leaves, no corolla or disk and stamens polyadelphous [anthers uniting into three or more groups]; from the Ranunculaceae in the absence of nectaries and the possession of fleshy carpels; from the Berberidaceae in having apetalous flowers with numerous stamens and carpels. The Ranunculaceae and Berberidaceae are also phytochemically related in the possession of the alkaloid berberine.”1
GENUS Hydrastis is a genus of 2 species of rhizomatous herbs with palmately lobed, alternate leaves, and small, solitary flowers that bear 3 petal-like sepals and numerous stamens but no true petals. One species is native to Northeast Asia, the other to eastern North America. At one time, Hydrastis canadensis grew wild in rich shady woods and moist areas on woodland edges in eastern North America but it is now almost extinct through overcollecting of the rhizomes of this ‘new miracle herb’. It is now grown commercially as a medicinal plant, but it is not easy to establish the plants.
NAME First mentioned in 1753, in Species Plantarum, Linnaeus only knew the leaves of the plant and, mistaking the genus, called it Hydrophyllum verum canadense. In 1759, he describes the plant, having received a specimen from John Ellis, and names it Hydrastis, This is a misnomer, derived from old English authorities, who supposed that the plant grew in boggy places, whereas the plant is never found in wet or boggy situations, on prairies, or in sterile soil, but rather in rich open woodlands, preferring a hillside richly strewn with leaf mould. Miller made an attempt, which failed, in 1759, to change the name to Warneria, in honour of Richard Warner, of Woodford, Essex, England. The common name Goldenseal refers both to the colour of the root and to its seal-like scars produced by the death of the stalk of the plant of the preceding year. The plant has many other common names, derived from physical characteristics, therapeutic uses, or its resemblance to other substances: Golden seal, Yellow puccoon, Yellow root, Orange root, Eye balm, Eye root, Ground raspberry, Indian paint, Yellow paint, Indian dye, Yellow eye, Jaundice root, Wild curcuma, Ohio curcuma, Curcuma, Golden root, Mild turmeric, and Indian turmeric. 2
FEATURES Goldenseal is native to the eastern North American deciduous forest of maple, beech and oak. Populations typically exist as clumps or groups rather than as scattered individuals. It is a small perennial herb, with a horizontal, irregularly knotted, bright yellow rootstock. From the rootstock rises a large, wrinkled basal leaf and a hairy flower stem which rises 20 to 35 cm above the ground. The flowerstem, covered in downward pointing hairs, gives rise to two large, wrinkled, palmately lobed leaves. The upper leaf is sessile, the lower one is stalked. Appearing before the leaves are fully expanded, the flower is solitary, terminal, erect, small, with three small greenish-white sepals which fall away as soon as the flower expands. The fruit is a head of small, fleshy, oblong, crimson berries. It is ripe in July and has the appearance of a raspberry, but is not edible. The fresh root is juicy and loses much of its weight in drying. When fresh, it has a well-marked, narcotic odour, which is lost in a great measure by age, when it acquires a peculiar sweetish smell, somewhat resembling liquorice root. It has a very bitter, feebly opiate taste, more especially when freshly dried.
HISTORY The Cherokee used it for treatment of cancer, general debility, dyspepsia, and to improve appetite and as a tonic and wash for local inflammations. The Iroquois made a decoction of roots for treatment of whooping cough, diarrhoea, liver trouble, fever, sour stomach and gas and as an emetic for biliousness. They also prepared a compound infusion with other roots for use as drops in the treatment of earache and as a wash for sore eyes. Mixed with bear’s grease it is said to have been used as an insect repellent. The root was valued as a stain and dye. Medicinal use by European settlers in North America did not become widespread until well after 1800, following publication of treatises on the use of native species for various ailments and the rise of the Eclectics movement. The Eclectics considered Goldenseal a critical remedy for stomach and intestinal problems. By the late 1800’s, goldenseal was widely used in the United States for eye and throat infections, gonorrhoea, cystitis, urinary tract inflammations, lowering of blood pressure, sedation, and constipation. In 1760 Miller brought a sample back to England, but attempts for cultivation were soon given up on account of the plant being difficult to grow out of its native habitat. By about 1850 the wild root became an article of commerce, and in 1905 the annual supply of it was estimated at from 200,000 to 300,000 pounds. In the 1980s annual wild harvests in the US were estimated at over 60 million plants or 67,000 kg of root. In 1991 the plant was officially recognised as an endangered species, resulting in trade restrictions in 1997.
CONSTITUENTS Several isoquinoline alkaloids [hydrastine, berberine, canadine]. Berberine [1-6%] constitutes the yellow colouring matter of the drug; berberastine [2-3%]; canadine; hydrastine [2-4%]; meconine; chlorogenic acid; phytosterins and resins. Also contains manganese, iron, cobalt, zinc, aluminium, and vitamins A and C. The two primary alkaloids, berberine and hydrastine, are strongly astringent and help reduce inflammation of mucous membranes. Hydrastine has been reported to lower blood pressure, to stimulate peristalsis, and to act as an uterine haemostatic, along with being an anti-tussive. Canadine acts as a sedative and muscle relaxant. Berberine and its sulphate, berberine sulphate, have been demonstrated to have anti-cancer activity in vitro and also have been shown to have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and immunostimulatory activity, as well. Berberine has shown marked effects on acute diarrhoea and its antibacterial qualities interfere with the ability of micro-organisms to adhere to the walls of host cells. Goldenseal extracts have shown hypoglycaemic activity.
DRUGS Hydrastis is in an interesting way connected with such drugs as opium and opiates. Botanically, a close relationship between some families of the order Ranunculaceae [e.g. Berberidaceae, Glaucidiaceae, Hydrastidaceae] and the order Papaverales is widely accepted. [The order Papaverales comprises the families Papaveraceae and Fumariaceae, of which the following species are used in homoeopathy: Opium, Sanguinaria, Chelidonium, Argemone, Corydalis, Fumaria, Adlumia.] Chemically and pharmacologically, such a relationship can also be demonstrated by the occurrence of isoquinoline alkaloids in most members of the respective plant families. Isoquinoline alkaloids are divided in several subclasses: simple isoquinolines, notably mescaline [Lophophora williamsii, Anhalonium]; protopines, exclusive to the poppy family; protoberberines, such as berberine, hydrastine, canadine, etc., from Berberis spp., and Goldenseal; morphine alkaloids, including morphine, codeine and thebaine; ipecac alkaloids, including the emetic alkaloid emetine from ipecacuanha. 3 From a homoeopathic-clinical point of view, most of these drugs show an affinity with the right side of the body in general and with the liver in particular. In view of this all, it is not surprising to find that Goldenseal in herbal medicine is used to treat drug addiction. In addition, the unsubstantiated but persistent notion exists that consumption of the rhizome will prevent detection in the urine of drug residues, particularly morphine, opiates, and steroids. In addition, Goldenseal has been used, unsuccessfully, to mask the use of morphine in race horses. Because of the practice of ingesting the herb to affect the outcome of drug testing, some drug testing labs are now testing for presence of Goldenseal in urinalysis.
TOXICOLOGY High doses of Goldenseal may cause nausea, vomiting, tingling in hands and feet, and a decrease in the white blood count. Brounstein reports the case of a man who had been taken Goldenseal extract every day for three years. “He had been stimulating his liver so much for so long that it started to turn off, and he had become jaundiced.”4 Goldenseal, if ingested, can produce convulsions and should be considered poisonous as it irritates the mouth and throat and can lead to paresthesia, paralysis, respiratory failure, and death.
MEDICINE The North American Indians valued the root highly as a tonic, stomachic and application for sore eyes and general ulceration. The action is tonic, laxative, alterative, antiseptic, emmenagogue, and detergent. It is a valuable remedy in the disordered conditions of the digestion and has a special action on the mucous membrane. The powder has proved useful as a snuff for nasal catarrh.
PROVINGS Introduced into homoeopathy in 1856 by Hale, who was familiar with the Eclectic uses of the plant.
••  Burt – self-experimentation, 1862; method: powdered root in doses increasing from 10 to 100 grains taken over a period of 5 days, followed by 70 drops of tincture and 50-75 drops of Tilden’s fluid extract during 2 days.
••  Weaver – self-experimentation, 1865; method: 8-10 drops of tincture, for 2 or 3 days [first trial], 10-15 drops of tincture on one day, with effects lasting 10 days [second trial].
••  Whiteside – self-experimentation, 1865; method: tincture of dried roots for 18 days, doses from 30 to 300 drops.
••  Lippe – 15 provers [12 males, 3 females], 1866-1867; this proving was done under Lippe by a class of students at the Hahnemann College of Philadelphia, with different potencies, mostly the 30th.
 Heywood, Flowering Plants of the World.  King’s American Dispensatory.  Mills, Herbal Medicine.  Brounstein, Bioregionalism and Fad Herbs; Talking Leaves, Summer Solstice 1996.
MUCOUS MEMBRANES [post nasal; STOMACH; gall ducts; intestines]. Muscles. Uterus. Liver. Vagina. Skin.
Worse: AIR [inhaling, cold; dry winds; open]. Slight bleeding. Washing. Old age. Night. Warmth. Touch of clothing. Motion. During pregnancy. Abuse of wine. Abuse of drugs. After stool. Every other day.
Better: Rest. Pressure. Dry weather. Warm covering.
[Five of Lippe’s provers experienced a feeling of exhilaration after taking the C30.]
• “Exhilaration of spirits and a feeling of lightness and happiness [2nd day].”
• “In high spirits; everything looked bright; felt happy and wanted to sing [3rd day].”
• “During proving, more cheerful than usual. Affections active.” [Allen]
c Boericke considers Hydrastis a brain stimulant: • “Cerebral effects prominent, feels his wits sharpened, head cleared, facile expression.”
M FORGETFUL. WEAK MEMORY.
Aversion to mental labour.
Anger about own forgetfulness.
• “Forgetfulness [while writing]; if I want anything and raise my hand to pick it up, or go after it, will forget, for a few seconds, what was wanted, which would make me very angry and feel like damning and cursing everything and everybody who bothered me in the least.” [Allen]
M Violent anger.
• “Spitefulness and disposition to hit and knock things in general; disappeared towards evening [5th day].”
• “Spiteful, angry disposition, with desire to snub anyone who differed in anything in me; lasting all day [3rd day].” [Allen]
c Goldenseal person picture. [In herbal medicine!]
• “Predominantly a female herb, ‘Goldenseal’ may show only the external symptoms to the world, feeling constantly ‘drained’, tired without just cause, with sore and tender spots over stomach and abdomen, and over pelvic organs. There may be some typical comments made like ‘I feel I need a good clean-out inside’, or ‘I feel kind of yellow-yukky’, or even ‘I feel everyone is looking at my dreadful skin.’ There may be a very poor self-image, a door-mat personality, even a resentment that life seems such a succession of disfigurements and sore intestines and pelvis. One of the most complicated of personalities, these person-types can trek from therapy to therapy, from practitioner to practitioner, bemoaning the inability to be diagnosed by anyone. Their emotional life is often disappointing, sex may be uninteresting or even irritatingly painful, and they cry ‘There must be more to life than this!’ Disappointment seems to be a constant companion, but they may appear unable to break its cycles. … Life seems to put these people behind the eightball. Emotionally they may go from wrong partner to wrong partner, and each time a spotty skin or an eye or ear infection may follow. Their emotions may be difficult to balance, but their outward signs are easy to read. When they fall in love, their eyes are clear and their skin improves; when disappointment and disenchantment result, their skin breaks out, the stomach becomes ‘sore’ and tender, periods change character and eyes lack lustre.” 1
G Atonic, cachectic or degenerative conditions. Weak and emaciated.
CANCEROUS affections [lips, skin, mammae, cervix, uterus, liver].
• “Cachectic or malignant dyscrasia from excessive use of alcohol; with marked derangement of gastric and hepatic functions.” [Allen]
• “To fatten patients cured with Tuberculinum.” [Mathur]
G CATARRHAL affections [acute or CHRONIC].
THICK YELLOW STRINGY discharges.
[nose, throat, bronchi, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, vagina]
G LARGE quantities of MUCUS.
Mucous secretions INCREASED.
G Intolerance of VEGETABLES [= sour, often foul eructations].
Aversion to meat and vegetables.
Desire for eggs.
• “Had a desire for eggs; generally, do not eat them or like them [5th day].” [Allen]
P Mucopurulent SINUSITIS following nasal catarrh, esp. post nasal.
Usually with headache [fullness, pressing pain] above LEFT eye.
> Open air.
< Warm room. Watery mucous discharge in the open air, nose blocked in warm room. P ACUTE CORYZA. Sneezing on waking. Copious flow of watery excoriating mucus. • Feeling as if something burst, suddenly followed by a copious discharge of watery coryza.” [Allen] < Open / cold air. > Warm room.
• “Continued flow of watery coryza; disappears in warm room; much < in open air.” [Allen] Nose feels sore. • “Nose feels sore when breathing though it.” • “Burning sensation in nose; disappears in warm room; much < in open air; the burning in exhalation is almost insupportable, while inhalation >.” [Allen]
P Lump [of mucus] in throat.
• “Feeling of lump in lower part of pharynx, inducing constant deglutition; at times this lump seems to rise, almost suffocating me; by drawing as long breaths as possible through my mouth this feeling of suffocation is removed.” [Allen]
P Sluggish digestion.
Empty, gone sensation at pit of stomach, whole day, not > by eating.
And Aversion to food.
And Constipation WITHOUT any urging to stool.
[According to Kent, this combination is a sure indication for Hydr.]
P Sinking feeling at pit of stomach.
And Palpitation of heart.
• “Miss W., aet. 75, suffering from chronic ulcer of leg, but general health being good, took by mistake on evening of August 15th, 1862, 20 drops of tincture. During night was restless. On morning of 16th experienced great sense of sinking and prostration at epigastrium with violent and long-continued palpitation.” [Hughes]
P CONSTIPATION [like sheep dung; may be and yellow mucus].
Of pregnancy; after abuse of drugs [laxatives].
Constipation without any clear indications.
[Lathoud mentions the change from an active life – with a lot of motion – to a sedentary life.]
Constipation, esp. of children and the aged. [Blackwood]
 Dorothy Hall’s Herbal Medicine.
Anger, from contradiction [1A], about own forgetfulness [1A], as soon as leucorrhoea ceases [2/1]. Buoyancy [1A]. Cheerful, in morning on waking . Intolerant of contradiction [1A]. Cursing . Fear, of impending disease, of being incurable . Aversion to going out . Hatred, spiteful . Hopeful . Aversion to read .
Fulness, on sneezing [1/1], in warm room . Numbness, feeling as if brain were partially narcotised [1H]. Oily forehead . Pain, temples, extending from temple to temple, and back again .
Accommodation, defective . Sparks, on closing eyes .
Noises, sound of machinery [1/1], as of cogwheels [1A].
Coldness inside, when inhaling . Epistaxis, followed by itching [1/1]. Pain, burning, < exhalation [1A], > inhalation [1A], > warm room [1A]. Sneezing, in sunshine , every time on waking up [1A].
Pain, as if burnt, tongue, in morning on rising [1A], < smoking [1A]. Throat Choking, from rising up of lump from lower part of throat [1A], > breathing deeply through mouth [1A].
Eructations, sour, after bread . Vomiting, after suppressed urine [1/1].
Sensation of heat in umbilical region [1H].
Constipation, after abuse of drugs , during pregnancy , unable to pass stool in presence of company, such as a nurse .
Metrorrhagia, after coition , from fibroids .
Itching, palms of hands, at night .
Waking, suddenly, by dropping from posterior nares [1/1].
Being busy . Journeys . Monsters . Pursued by wild animals .
Itching, without eruption [1A].
* Repertory additions: [A] = Allen, [H] = Hughes.
Aversion: : Bread; meat; vegetables.
Desire: : Bread; bread and butter; eggs; meat; tea.
Worse: : Bread. : Vegetables.