Goldenseal root is used to treat a variety of conditions, including urinary tract infections, the common cold, stomach ulcers, conjunctivitis and earaches. However, there is insufficient scientific evidence to support any of the purported benefits of goldenseal root, as of 2015.
Goldenseal is an herb belonging to the same family as the buttercup. Historically, it was used by North American aboriginal tribes to treat a wide variety of common ailments. Goldenseal contains a chemical called berberine, which may be effective at killing bacteria and fungi. For this reason, goldenseal is sometimes applied topically to treat skin rashes, acne and eczema. It may also be effective when diluted into an eyewash to treat pink eye. A concentrated berberine extract derived from goldenseal has been used in the treatment of diarrhea.
The chemicals and minerals found in goldenseal root are difficult for the body to absorb via digestion, so taking goldenseal orally may not produce any of the positive effects of berberine. Pregnant women, infants and small children should avoid taking goldenseal root, as it may cause brain damage in babies. In addition, the herb may interact negatively with certain prescription drugs, especially those that are broken down by the liver. These interactions are not well-documented.