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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

GOLDENSEAL - NATIVE AMERICANS USED IT FOR SKIN PROBLEMS, HISTORY, USES AND HEALTH BENEFITS OF GOLDENSEAL


GOLDENSEAL, HYDRASTIS CANADENSIS 
When the early settlers reached the North American continent they found that the Native American tribes used goldenseal for skin diseases and for cancerous growths. They adopted the use of the goldenseal root, which they could harvest in autumn after the plant had died back and could dry it for later use. Goldenseal is a member of the buttercup or crowfoot family, Ranunculaceae, so it is a relative of the lesser celandine and black cohosh. It has been used for liver problems, and when applied in a poultice or you can simply mash the root, it has been effective in acting as an antiseptic for cuts as it has antimicrobial and anti-bacterial properties. The Cherokees used it as a cancer treatment and for an eye wash. The name Hydrastis comes from the Greek meaning to accomplish and water, so this could be because of this use,
  By the early twentieth century the little plant was considered a cure-all and used against colds and flu, as it is now, especially when combined with Echinacea. It is actually now one of the most popular herbs in the US, although this may have something to do with the unfounded rumour that it can mask a positive result on a drug test for illegal drugs. Studies have found that it actually has no effect on the results.
  There is actually no scientific evidence for the effectiveness of this herb, although it does contain berberine, it is not absorbed as well in the body as that found in other herbs. Berberine has been shown to kill bacteria in vitro (in test tubes not in animals) and to be effective against some yeast infections in the urinary tract such as candida. It may stimulate the action of white blood cells to combat infection and so may strengthen the immune system.
  In the traditional Chinese medicine system it has been used for malaria and heart failure, but tests have not substantiated this use.
  An infusion of the root may help to eliminate toxins and salt from the kidneys and liver, but the downside is that it could raise blood pressure so is not recommended for use if you already have high blood pressure or heart problems. Also avoid giving goldenseal to children and if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, don’t use it.
  When its popularity grew in the late 1990s the little plant became at risk of being endangered and is on the list of the Convention on International trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) as an endangered species due to its over-harvesting.
  Goldenseal was introduced to the UK in 1760 where it became used for catarrh, the root being dried and ground to a powder for snuff to clear the nasal passages and also for its decongestant properties for bronchial catarrh. It was also used as a digestive aid and to regulate a woman’s periods.
  The Native Americans primarily used it for skin problems and it has a reputation for being good as a skin wash being credited with stopping pitting after chicken pox and smallpox. They also used the yellow juice from the root as a dye for clothes, body paint and to colour weapons.
  As it is considered an endangered species, don’t rush off and try to harvest the root!

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