Goldenseal, Hydrastis canadensis, is a member of the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family native to the United States, widely desired for its uses as a medicinal herb. Its natural range extends from Quebec to northern Georgia and west to Missouri. Goldenseal is an herbaceous perennial which can be found growing in rich, densely-shaded deciduous forests. Demand for goldenseal has increased recently causing a drastic reduction of the plant throughout its native range.
This herbaceous plants contains the bioactive compounds hydrastine, berberine, and canadine which are isoquinoline alkaloids. Native Americans used goldenseal as a general antiseptic and as a treatment for snake bites. Modern uses include; a remedy for nasal congestion, digestive disorders and inflammation. Goldenseal has even been used in the treatment of AIDS. It is often marketed as a synergistic herbal remedy or treatment; implying that when used with other herbs, its efficacy is improved. Goldenseal and echinacea are commonly combined in one formula. It has a long track record of medicinal use and consumer demand in North America and European market demands are on the rise as well. This pattern is expected to continue with a projected growth rate of 5-10% over the next 3 to 5 years. Wild-harvesting is currently the most prevalent method of procurement, with cultivation providing up to 40% of market demand, this is putting native populations of goldenseal into serious decline throughout its range.
Goldenseal is federally and internationally protected through Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international treaty monitoring trade in threatened and endangered species. A CITES permit is required for international export and import, this requires providing proof that plants are at least 4 years of age and were legally obtained. Recently, agricultural cultivation has been increasingly encouraged in order to keep up with market demand without eradicating native populations. Be sure to carefully select products so as to ensure the conservation and protection of important natural resources, consumer demand and choice drives the market for these types of herbal products, your purchase makes your voice heard.