Goldenseal, a medicinal plant renowned for its immune-stimulating properties, has been used for hundreds of years to treat dozens of common conditions. Most commonly, goldenseal is combined with other herbs for use in cleansing and immunostimulating formulas.
In general, goldenseal is safe and associated with few serious side effects. However, there are some goldenseal contraindications, which are circumstances that make the use of goldenseal inadvisable or potentially dangerous. Do not use goldenseal if you are in any of these high-risk groups.
Babies and Toddlers
Do not use goldenseal in children under age 3. A compound in goldenseal may cause kernicterus, a serious form of brain damage, in babies and young children. All reports of goldenseal-related kernicterus have occurred in newborn babeis, but it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid giving it to any baby or toddler.
Most health care providers view pregnancy as a goldenseal contraindication. Compounds in goldenseal may cross the placenta, leading to kernicterus in the fetus. In theory, goldenseal may also increase the risk of miscarriage and preterm birth due to increased contractions in the uterus. Avoid goldensesal during all stages of pregnancy unless your health care provider explicityl states that it is okay.
Breastfeeding mothers should not take goldenseal, because the compound linked to kernicterus may enter breastmillk and harm the nursing child. This risk is particularly great for the mothers of breastfed newborns, and it is less serious for older babies and toddlers. Many other herbs are also contraindicated for breastfeeding mothers, so consult your doctor or your child’s pediatrician for further advice.
Visit the National Institutes of Health for more information about goldenseal contraindications.