Hydrastis canadensis

Beverly Erlebacher bae at oci.utoronto.ca
Thu Oct 10 11:54:18 EST 1996

Alan Weder wrote:
> I am a physician at U. Michigan.  I encountered a patient who had very
> high levels of urinary norepinephrine but proved not to have a
> pheochromocytoma (catecholamine-producing adrenal tumor).  On review of
> his diet, he turned out to be taking a supplement called "Golden Seal
> Herb", which apparently contains Hydrastis canadensis.  On HPLC, this
> stuff has a compound that comes out close enough to norepinephrine to
> fool the detector, hence the report of elevated urinary norepinephrine.
> Does anyone know what this plant is, what compounds it makes that could
> co-elute with norepinephrine ar alternatively, where I might seek such
> information?  Thanks in advance

Unfortunately, there is no real regulation of herbal supplements in
the U.S., and according to a Consumer Reports article last year, it's
not at all uncommon for a herbal preparation to contain none of the 
ingredients on the label, as well as almost anything else.

My guess is that whether or not there is any Hydrastis canadensis in
this supplement, it may well contain Ephedra spp, which includes 
'Mormon tea' and 'ma huang'.  Ephedra produces ephedrine.  Would you
expect ephedrine or related alkaloids to elute near close relatives
like norepinephrine?  (I don't know much about HPLC.)

I think it's quite common to add stimulants such as caffeine-containing
herbs to 'supplements', perhaps so consumers can feel their "energy
being restored naturally".  Maybe ephedrine is in this one.

Please let me know what you find out.

Beverly Erlebacher
Toronto, Ontario Canada

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