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Popular Herbal Remedy Goldenseal Can Make the Tongue Sore

Taking the herbal remedy goldenseal resulted in a chronically irritated tongue.

Sometimes taking a supplement that is intended to improve your health can backfire. That is what happened to this reader who decided to take the herbal remedy goldenseal for greater immune system strength. A side effect became more troublesome than the expected benefit.

A Sore Irritated Tongue:

Q. I’ve had a sore irritated tongue for months. I first went to my primary care doctor and then to an ENT doctor. The ENT doctor prescribed “Magic Mouthwash,” which was not covered by my prescription plan.

I contacted my primary care doctor again, and she said to stop taking the herbal remedy goldenseal. She thought it was irritating my tongue. She was right!

Pros and Cons of Goldenseal:

A. Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) is popular during the fall and winter for boosting the immune system. It is even found in mouthwashes. Some people gargle with such “natural” products to relieve sore throats.

One of the adverse effects of goldenseal, however, is that it can irritate the mouth and throat. It can also make skin more sensitive to sunburn, so it could have some downside even in the summertime.

Your experience underscores the importance of sharing everything you are taking with your primary care provider. It was very useful that your doctor knew you were taking the herbal remedy goldenseal and thought of its possible adverse effects.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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