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What are the benefits of goldenseal as an alternative medicine?

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Quick Answer

There are no clear benefits of goldenseal as an alternative medicine, WebMD states. In particular, although goldenseal is alleged to be useful for masking the presence of illegal substances on drug tests, evidence does not support this claim.

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Full Answer

Goldenseal contains the chemical berberine, which is documented to have a number of helpful effects, but is absorbed very poorly when consumed through goldenseal, WebMD explains. Consuming berberine orally may not lead to a sufficiently high concentration to cause significant effects. Berberine may be helpful for treating conditions including irregular heartbeat, heightened blood pressure, high blood sugar levels and high LDL cholesterol levels.

Goldenseal does not appear to be effective at hiding a range of legal and illegal substances on drug tests, WebMD notes. These substances include barbiturates, opiates, cocaine, amphetamines and tetrahydrocannabinol. The first instance of the idea of using goldenseal to tamper with drug tests apparently occurs in a novel by John Uri Lloyd, where goldenseal is used to falsely confirm strychnine poisoning.

Despite the lack of evidence supporting its effectiveness, goldenseal is sometimes used to attempt to treat conditions including upper respiratory tract infections, skin conditions, digestive conditions and urinary tract infections, WebMD reports. Skin conditions goldenseal is used for include acne, cold sores, eczema and rashes. Digestive conditions treated with goldenseal include colitis, constipation, peptic ulcers and diarrhea.

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