By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD
We’ve all heard that eating more fruits and veggies, exercising regularly and practicing healthy sleep habits are great ways to optimize our body’s immune defense. Still, many people wonder if there are additional simple things they can do, or try adding to their health routine, to support normal immune function year-round. Medicinal use of certain herbal supplements like goldenseal dates back centuries. Early U.S. colonists learned about goldenseal from Native Americans, who used it to relieve fevers, skin disorders, ulcers and other conditions.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) is a low-growing plant with palm-shaped leaves and small, white flowers that grow seedy, red berries similar to raspberries. The plant is native to forests near the Mississippi River, but grows wild in other areas of the United States, largely as a result of overharvesting.
Goldenseal may have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties responsible for its potential immune-boosting benefits.
Taking goldenseal is said to have many potential health benefits and is known to help the body strengthen your immune system and fight off infections. It’s often used for symptoms of the common cold, seasonal allergies, respiratory infections and digestive issues like diarrhea. Some people also like using goldenseal for skin rashes, sore gums, cold sores and even inflammation of the eye.
Because of all these common consumer uses for goldenseal, it’s not surprising that some research indicates that it may contain compounds that can support normal immune health and function.
Goldenseal may have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties responsible for its potential immune-boosting benefits. A 2008 study suggests that goldenseal has immune-stimulating characteristics and may have therapeutic applications. This animal study using rats found that goldenseal boosts the immune response by actually increasing the defense mechanism that attacks the offending antigen.
The herb contains an alkaloid compound called berberine that’s thought to be the origin of many of its health attributes. Berberine has been studied for its potential benefit for heart and other conditions. Furthermore, berberine has been shown to have the ability to keep E.coli bacteria from adhering to the walls of the urinary tract, potentially helping to lower risk of urinary problems.
Some researchers suggest that there are other natural compounds in goldenseal that may work collaboratively to enhance the positive activities of berberine in that setting.
Many people choose to take goldenseal supplements at the first signs of respiratory challenges to try to reduce symptoms or speed up recovery. Goldenseal root is typically dried and powdered and may be sold in capsules. Sometimes it’s found as a tincture or a lotion to apply topically for skin issues.
When supplemented, goldenseal is often combined with echinacea, another herb associated with immune benefits.
Our new, once-a-day Trimmunity Multi-System Immune Support capsules include goldenseal. They’re an easy item to tack onto your daily immune health regimen for year-round defense against whatever bugs may cross your path.
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