A photo of the echinacea plant
Echinacea is one of our top 10 herbal remedies because of its valuable immune boosting properties

Herbal remedies – 10 of the best

12 September, 2011

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Goldenseal – for chronic sinus problems

Goldenseal was used widely by the American Indians, both as an herbal medicine and a clothing dye. It is used as a tonic in chronic mucous membrane problems like chronic sinusitis and chronic urinary tract infections and in inflammatory conditions caused by allergy or infection.

Its medicinal value is thought to be because of its berberine content (an alkaloid which is also found in Oregon Grape root and barberry). It is this active component which has been most widely studied.

Laboratory tests have shown that berberine has broad antibiotic effects and can be useful in the treatment of acute diarrhoea caused by a range of nasty bugs including E.coli, Giardia, Salmonella and Vibrio cholera (cholera).


Goldenseal may be taken as a powdered dried herb or tincture (usually in combination with other milder herbs). For a dried extract with an alkaloid content of between 8-12%, the dosage would be 250 to 500 mg three times daily.

Take care

Berberine containing plants are generally non-toxic but are not recommended for use during pregnancy. Higher doses may interfere with B-vitamin metabolism. Goldenseal can also be rather drying and should only be used for relatively short periods of time (2-3 weeks maximum).


  • Adapted from What Works, What Doesn’t: The guide to alternative healthcare by Pat Thomas. See here See here for details.