Trott, Timothy

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2019


Herbal medicines are a melee of complex organic chemicals, making it difficult to ascertain their direct mechanism of action. In contrast to mainstream pharmaceuticals, it is argued that herbal medicines are effective because of multiple constituents working synergistically. The complexity of herbal medicines may give them advantages over simpler pharmaceuticals in combating antibiotic resistant microbes, but these advantages can be difficult to quantitate. Popular literature frequently espouses the healing properties of herbal medicines, but many of these claims are not scientifically supported. Many gains could be realized in public health and medicine if more research was aimed at validating / disproving commonly used remedies. “Home remedies” though scientifically unsupported may still be viable treatments for certain diseases. Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadesis) is commonly used as an herbal therapy to treat bacterial infections, particularly of the upper respiratory tract. In an attempt to provide an organized investigation of weakly supported remedies, this research shows that extracts from Goldenseal have a greater antibiotic effect than the alkaloid berberine, which is thought to be its primary active compound. Minimal Inhibitory Concentration assays were performed with Staphylococcus aureusand found that the MIC of Goldenseal extract is over 15 times lower than the MIC of pure berberine. The increased bactericidal effect of the Goldenseal extract suggests synergistic effects with other compounds in the extract. Elucidation of the synergistic elements of Goldenseal extract and their mechanisms of action would be useful in creating novel methods of decreasing bacterial resistance to antibiotics.