Hydrastis canadensis

Roger Whitehead rwhitehead at cix.compulink.co.uk
Thu Oct 10 04:32:15 EST 1996

Hydrastis canadensis, or Golden Seal, is a member of the Buttercup 
family (Ranunculaceae) and is a native of Canada and eastern USA. It has 
numerous other colloquial names, including Indian Dye, Yellow-Eye, 
Curcuma, Ground-Raspberry (from the shape of its leaves) and Jaundice 

As you might imagine from that collection of epithets, it is used as a 
dye as well as as a medicine. Indians used it originally, of course, for 
a variety of purposes, including its drying action on mucous membranes, 
as an anti-inflammatory and as a laxative. The active ingredient is an 
alkaloid, Hydrastine, which was listed in both the US national 
pharmacopeia and national formulary until the '50s, at least.

In 1918, it was estimated that up to 300,000 pounds of Hydrastine was in 
use in the USA every year. Not surprisingly, wild sources became almost 
depleted and cultivated varieties took over. 


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Roger Whitehead, Office Futures
14 Amy Road, Oxted, Surrey RH8 0PX, England
Tel +44 1883 713074; Fax +44 1883 716793
rwhitehead at cix.compulink.co.uk)uk)

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