Hydrastis. - Synonyms. - Golden Seal. Yellow Puccoon. The rhizome and roots of Hydrastis canadensis Linne (nat. ord. Ranunrulaceae.)


North America, west to Missouri and Arkansas, in woodlands.


Rhizome about 4 cm. long and 6 mm. thick; oblique with short branches, somewhat annulate and longitudinally wrinkled; externally brownish-gray; fracture short, waxy, bright reddish-yellow, with a thick -ish bark, about ten narrow wood-wedges, broad medullary rays, and large pith. Roots thin, brittle, with a thick, yellow bark and subquadrangular, woody centre. Odor slight; taste bitter.


It contains - (1) Berberine, C20H17No4, an alkaloid existing as yellowish prismatic crystals, and is found in many plants (Berberis, Calumba, Coptis, Menispermum, Xanthorrhiza, Xanthoxylum, etc.), chiefly in the orders Berberaceae, Menispermaceae, and Rannnculaceae. It is identical with Buxine, the alkaloid of Buxus sempervirens, and Pelosine, that of Chon-dodendron tormentosum (Pareira). (2) Hydrastine, C21H21No6, a colorless alkaloid, soluble in Alcohol and Ether. (3) Canadine, C21H21No4, in white needles.

Dose, 5 to 60 gr.; .30 to 4.00 gm.


1. Extractum Hydrastis Fluidum. - Fluid Extract of Hydrastis. By maceration and percolation with Alcohol, Glycerin and water, and evaporation.

Dose, 5 to 60 m.; .30 to 4.00 c.c.

2. Tinctura Hydrastis. - Tincture of Hydrastis. Hydrastis, 200; by maceration and percolation with diluted Alcohol to 1000.

Dose, 1/2 to 2 fl. dr.; 2. to 8. c.c.

3. Glyceritum Hydrastis. - Glycerite of Hydrastis. Hydrastis, by percolation and maceration with Alcohol, distil off the Alcohol, add Water, filter, and to the filtrate add an equal volume of Glycerin.

Dose, 5 to 60 m.; .30 to 4.00 c.c.

Hydrastininae Hydrochloras. Hydrastinine Hydrochlorate

C11H11No2hcl=224.97. The Hydrochlorate of an artificial alkaloid derived from Hydrastine, the latter being obtained from Hydrastis.


By acting upon Hydrastine by oxidizing agents, as when Man ganese Dioxide and Sulphuric Acid are used together, or when Platinic Chloride is employed.


Light yellow, amorphous granules, or a pale yellow, crystalline powder, odorless, and having a bitter, saline taste; deliquescent on exposure to damp air.


In 0.3 part of water, and in 3 parts of Alcohol; with difficulty soluble in Ether or Chloroform.

Dose, 1/12 to 1/6 gr.; .005 to .01 gm.

Action Of Hydrastis

Hydrastis, in moderate doses, acts as a gastric bitter, promoting the appetite, stimulating the gastro-intestinal secretions, and peristalsis. It increases the flow of bile. It contracts the peripheral arterioles chiefly, if not entirely, from its action on the vaso-motor centre in the medulla. In moderate doses it diminishes the rate and depresses the force of the cardiac contraction, but the contraction of the arterioles causes a rise of blood-pressure. It is said to increase uterine contractions and to produce abortion, but this is doubtful. In poisonous doses it still more depresses the heart, causing a great fall of blood-pressure; it produces convulsions similar to those of strychnine, and kills by paralysis of respiration. Its action is mainly due to the alkaloid hydrastine. It has been stated that this, before it acts, is oxidized into hydrastinine, but against this is the fact that it is excreted unchanged in the urine.

Therapeutics Of Hydrastis


Hydrastis is employed empirically as a local stimulating application in chronic inflammations, such as unhealthy ulcers. It is used also as a lotion in hyperidrosis, acne, and seborrhoea. Any of the preparations may be employed, if diluted with water.


he chief use of hydrastis is that it is empirically administered for chronic inflammations of mucous membranes. It is said to be especially valuable for uterine affections, particularly menorrhagia and dysmenorrhoea. It is given to stop uterine haemorrhage and to arrest the growth of uterine tumors. For all these diseases hydrastinine hydrochlorate has been much used. Hydrastis is also employed in the chronic gastritis of drunkenness, and to a rather less degree in other forms of chronic gastrointestinal catarrh. As an injection or lotion it is employed (any preparation diluted with an equal part of water) for chronic nasal catarrh, otorrhoea, leucorrhoea, gonorrhoea, and as a mouth wash in aphthous stomatitis, chronic pharyngitis, etc. Some authors claim that it is useful for the same diseases of the heart as are benefited by digitalis. As an antiperiodic, hydrastis is inferior but next in value to quinine.