Is Goldenseal Safe?

Many people want to know how safe goldenseal is. Although this supplement appears to be safe for most people, you should talk to your healthcare provider before taking it if you have any chronic or severe medical condition. Since the supplement's safety has not been established (it can be marketed without proof that it is safe), you should find a product from a reputable manufacturer.

An Overview of Goldenseal Safety

For many adults, short-term use of goldenseal seems to be fairly safe when the herb is used in moderation. Some people may be more likely to experience problems due to goldenseal. Therefore, you should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking this herb medicinally if you have any:
  • Chronic or severe medical condition
  • Allergies, including allergies to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
You should also be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Warnings and Precautions With Goldenseal

Warnings and precautions to be aware of concerning the safety of goldenseal include the following:
  • In general, goldenseal is not considered to be safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women (see Goldenseal and Pregnancy and Goldenseal and Breastfeeding).
  • Goldenseal should never be given to newborns, as it may increase the risk of kernicterus (brain damage due to severe jaundice).
  • Although short-term use of goldenseal at reasonable doses seems to be safe for most adults, it is not clear if long-term use or use at high dosages is also safe.
  • Goldenseal may theoretically interact with some medications (see Goldenseal Drug Interactions).
  • As an herbal supplement, goldenseal is not as closely regulated as prescription (or non-prescription) drugs. It can be marketed without any proof that it is either safe or effective. Do not assume that just because a product is sold or advertised in the United States that it is automatically safe or effective. Be sure to look for goldenseal products from a reputable manufacturer. Your pharmacist is a good resource for information about which manufacturers are most reputable. This is especially important due to the toxic alkaloids found in some goldenseal products.
  • If you have a chronic or severe medical condition, it is always a good idea to check with your healthcare provider before taking any medication or supplement, including goldenseal.
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