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Goldenseal For Pets: Herb Facts, Use, and Safety

Posted 2020-05-12

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) is a herb that has been traditionally used by the indigenous people of North America and gained popularity during the 19th century as a “cure-all” herb. Today, Goldenseal is still a popular herb for medicinal use and can be helpful in supporting the health of pets.

It is a perennial herb from the buttercup or Ranunculaceae family. It received its common name from the golden-yellow scars that appear along its stem and its thick yellow roots. It grows as a short shrub with large leaves and a singular flower that produces an inedible fruit. The herb grows wild in moist, mountainous areas but is now considered to be a vulnerable species. Goldenseal is often cultivated rather than wild-harvested in order to protect the species. At NHV, we pride ourselves on ensuring that all of our herbs are organically grown or ethically wildcrafted.

Patch of wild goldnseal (Hydrastis canadensis) plants in a woodland

Traditional Benefits and Use of Goldenseal

Goldenseal has the strongest affinities on the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, lower urinary tract, eyes, and mouth. The indigenous peoples of North America have traditionally used it as an insect repellant and ointment for wounds, ulcers, and inflamed eyes.  The herb was used internally to treat liver and stomach issues. In the 19th century, the herb became commonly used for a number of infections including Tuberculosis, Staph, gastroenteritis, sinusitis, and colitis. Berberine and hydrastine are two alkaloids found in the plant that have antimicrobial properties that inhibit contact bacteria, fungi, parasites. The anti-inflammatory properties of Goldenseal help with supporting the respiratory, digestive, and urinary tracts as well as irritations of the mouth and eyes.

In the 20th century, Goldenseal became popular for very different use. Many people began using Goldenseal in the belief that it would hide illegal drugs from urine tests. While Goldenseal has many useful properties, providing a false-negative on drug tests is not one of them.

Photograph. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine: The Definitive Reference to 550 Herbs and Remedies for Common Ailments. 2nd ed. New York, NY: DK Publishing Inc., 2000. Yellowish brown cluster of roots laying on a beige background

These are some of the properties that Goldenseal root has; antibiotic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, astringent, disinfectant, anti-catarrhal, antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, and immuno-stimulating. The herb continues to be used today, mainly for its astringent, antibacterial, and anti-catarrhal properties. Goldenseal contains alkaloids (hydrastine, berberine, berberastine), that exhibit a broad spectrum of antibiotic activity and act as contact disinfectants. When applied topically to inflamed skin or sores, the alkaloids act as an astringent and contact disinfectant to soothe inflamed mucous membranes. Goldenseal helps fight pathogens and fungal infections of the skin and increases the body’s immune response by activating macrophages.

NHV has 4 products containing Goldenseal root extract that have been formulated by a holistic veterinarian and a master herbalist to help transfer the many benefits of this excellent herb to pets, safely. These formulations can be beneficial for various health issues:

All Clear Ointment: A herbal ointment for skin issues such as dermatitis, bacterial or fungal infections, and skin irritations. It helps to speed healing, soothe inflamed skin, and reduce itching while eliminating bacterial and fungal infections.

Echo Gold: An all-natural ear drops formula with anti-inflammatory and antibiotic activity for topical use. Ear infections are a common condition caused by allergies, wax buildup, water, or small bodies (such as ear mites) in the ear. Echo Gold may help pets recover from ear infections and the irritating symptoms that result.

Ey-Eas: An herbal formulation with antibiotic and anti-inflammatory activities for conjunctivitis (pink eye) and watery eyes. These eye drops support the management of painful swelling, soothes uncomfortable itching, and helps control increased discharge to restore eyes back to a healthy state. It also helps prevent the spreading of eye infections to other pets.

Felimm: A herbal supplement blend formulated to support pets with viral infections such as Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), and Canine Herpesvirus. This formula supports a healthy immune system and helps fight against viruses. In addition, it helps fight infections, encourages detoxification of the lymphatic system, improves energy levels, and encourages appetite.

Goldenseal has many properties and medicinal effects that can be beneficial not only for humans but also for our pets. There are many products and recipes available with Goldenseal for pets, however, Goldenseal can be dangerous in excess. It is important to make sure that, if you are giving Goldenseal to your pet, you have the correct dosage for them. All of NHV’s products are formulated specifically to be safe for pets based on their weight. This herb is not safe for pregnant and lactating pets as it can stimulate uterine contractions and can be transmitted to breast milk. If you or your vet have any questions about Goldenseal and if it is right for your pet, feel free to contact us.

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