Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) for biofilms and as an antimicrobial

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) is a great all-round antimicrobial – just watch out with goldenseal, however, because it acts as a strong general antibiotic as well (killing many microbes in its path), so make sure you are getting plenty of probiotic bacteria too if you take it via mouth, at a different time to the goldenseal.

It is advisable to work with a naturopath or herbalist to get proper advice before ingesting goldenseal, or at least research it thoroughly so you understand what you are doing. Herbs are not ‘safe’ because they are natural.

     Using goldenseal vaginally
Vaginally, goldenseal can be used as a douche or in suppositories. If you can get hold of some root powder, you can mix some into warm water and use it as a douche, or even hold some up with a tampon for a few hours at a time. Do a test first to make sure you don’t react badly.

Make sure when you are trying different herbs and applications to A) test yourself for a reaction first, and B) do it for long enough and consistently enough for the infection you are trying to treat. It’s a classic ‘weed, seed and feed’ protocol that we use – kill the bad bacteria, seed the new bacteria, then feed the newbies so they are healthy and prolific.

This way of going about treating infection may include biofilm work, in which case you may need to look into N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) or another enzyme product like InterFase. You may need extra help to work on biofilms from a practitioner, but if you are going it alone, you’ll need to do your research and use the correct application.


  • Avoid during pregnancy and lactation.
  • Doses over 0.5g of pure berberine may cause lethargy, dizziness, dyspnoea, skin and eye irritation, GIT irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, nephritis and kidney irritation
  • Contraindicated (do not use) in kidney disease. Displaces bilirubin. Can cause haemolysis and jaundice in babies.
  • Contraindicated in hypertension.
  • TCM warnings: Take acidophilus concurrently, do not take on its own for more than three weeks

     About goldenseal
Hydrastis canadensis, root and rhizome, are used for the following conditions:

  • anti-haemorrhagic (helps stop bleeding)
  • anticatarrhal (helps reduce mucous)
  • mucous membrane trophorestorative (helps restore mucous membranes, which is really helpful for vaginas)
  • antimicrobial
  • antibacterial
  • bitter tonic (helps stimulate digestion)
  • anti-inflammatory (reduces inflammation – also good for an inflamed vagina)
  • depurative (an old-fashioned term for a ‘blood cleanser’, meaning helps your organs of elimination to detoxify your blood, like your kidneys)
  • vulnerary (assists in wound healing, so good for flesh, and vaginas)
  • choleretic (increase secretion of bile from the liver)
  • reputed oxytocic (a uterotonic – helps uterine contractions)

Goldenseal is typically used for:

  • nasopharyngeal catarrh
  • chronic sinusitis
  • hay fever
  • serous otitis media
  • pharyngitis
  • conjunctivitis
  • blepharitis
  • catarrhal deafness
  • sinus headache
  • acne
  • dermatitis (topically)
  • peptic ulcer or gastritis (involving helicobacter)
  • nausea
  • acute GIT infection with diarrhoea (nonviral)
  • giardiasis
  • hypertyraminaemia
  • lower respiratory catarrh
  • bronchiectasis
  • chronic bronchitis
  • to modify bowel flora
  • convalescence
  • myalgia
  • menorrhagia (heavy periods)

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, goldenseal…

…is bitter and astringent, cold with warming potential, dry, decongesting, astringing, stabilising, restoring, and stimulating; related to the stomach, intestines, lung, heart, reproductive organs, bladder, kidneys, liver, and gallbladder.

  • Enteritis
  • skin eruptions
  • bacterial, fungal, amoebic, parasitic infections
  • leukopenia
  • middle ear infection
  • eye inflammation
  • mouth, gum, throat and anal soreness/inflammation
  • gastroenteritis
  • microbial toxicosis
  • leucorrhoea (vaginal discharge)
  • cervical erosion (cervical ectropion)
  • excessive perspiration
  • varicose veins
  • dysmenorrhoea (period pain)
  • tumours
  • breast pain
  • haemorrhage
  • liver congestion
  • jaundice
  • cholangitis
  • chronic constipation
  • upper gastric deficiency
  • chronic gastritis
  • gastric ulcers
  • debility
  • failure to progress during labour
  • uterine subinvolution
  • atonic ulcers
  • boils

Dosage recommendations

  • Tincture 1:3 liquid extract 15-30ml per week maximum, 1-2g per day tablet (Bone)
  • Tincture 1:3 liquid extract, 2-4.5ml per day or 15-30ml/week (Braun and Cohen)
  • Tincture 1:10 liquid extract, 6-12 ml (Braun and Cohen)
  • Dried rhizome and root 1.5g/d by decoction (Braun and Cohen)
  • Eyewash: 0.2% berberine solution, 2 drops in each eye 3 x p/d (Braun and Cohen)


  • Small doses for stimulating liver and stomach
  • Tincture: 0.25-0.75ml or 7-20 drops
  • Powder and decoction: 0.25-1g
  • Medium Dose for mucostatic, decongestant, antiseptic, anti inflammatory: Tincture: 0.75-1.5ml or 20-40 drops
  • Large dose for stimulating, cooling or laxative. Tincture: 1.5-3ml or 40-80 drops
  • Powder or decoction: 2-3g


Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)
Read more about Jessica and My Vagina's origin story.
Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

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