Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) is an herb in the Ranunculaceae family that is native to Eastern North America. According to historical documents, Native Americans relied on the medicinal qualities of Goldenseal for the treatment of a variety of ailments. These ailments include skin infections, digestion problems and cancer. Goldenseal is now occasionally used by modern Naturopathic practitioners for the treatment of acne.

Goldenseal extracts are purported to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal and astringent properties. For the treatment of acne, Goldenseal extracts are both consumed orally or added to topical anti-acne formulations.

Many people have claimed that Naturopathic treatments involving Goldenseal helped to improve their acne symptoms. However, there do not appear to have been any rigorous clinical studies to evaluate how effective Goldenseal extract is for the treatment of acne. In fact, there does not appear to be strong evidence that Goldenseal is an effective treatment for many of the medical conditions for which it is commonly prescribed. The lack of scientific evidence does not prove or disprove the medical utility of Goldenseal, but more research is needed to evaluate many of the claimed benefits of Goldenseal.

Goldenseal does contain significant quantities of several alkaloids which are known to be biologically active, such as berberastine, berberine, canadine and hydrastine. Berberine has been shown to have antibacterial properties, possibly by disrupting their efflux pump system. Berberine has also been reported to be an anti-inflammatory agent when consumed orally, but this claim has not been fully proven.


Topical herbal therapies an alternative and complementary choice to combat acne. Kapoor, et al. 2011.
Herbal medicine for acne vulgaris. Yarnell, et al. 2006.
A review on herbal drugs acting against Acne Vulgaris. Patel, et al. 2015.
Human cytochrome p450 inhibition and metabolic-intermediate complex formation by goldenseal extract and its methylenedioxyphenyl components. Chatterjee, et al. 2003.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.) extracts synergistically enhance the antibacterial activity of berberine via efflux pump inhibition. Ettefagh, et al. 2011.
Determination of Hydrastine and Berberine in Goldenseal Raw Materials, Extracts, and Dietary Supplements by High-Performance Liquid Chromatography with UV: Collaborative Study. Brown, et al. 2008.