What is Goldenseal Salve?

Vanessa Harvey

Goldenseal salve, if it is all natural, is a plant-based salve typically consisting of the fresh or dried root of the herb goldenseal, a natural fat such as coconut oil and beeswax. Commercially manufactured goldenseal salve might contain other ingredients such as artificial colors, dyes, perfumes and preservatives. The definition of a salve, also called an ointment, is a preparation that can be applied directly to the skin to treat various ailments such as swellings, burns and eruptions. It can easily remain on the skin because of its very thick consistency.

A goldenseal-based salve might be used to treat acne.
A goldenseal-based salve might be used to treat acne.

The herb goldenseal has many medicinal properties; it is considered a tonic, a laxative, a diuretic and a detergent. Its qualities that are most important when choosing it to make a salve include its anti-inflammatory, soothing and antiseptic properties. When needing to treat conditions such as open sores, inflammation, ringworm, eczema and other skin problems, often an antiseptic salve or one for acne is prepared.

An antiseptic goldenseal salve might be used to treat eczema.
An antiseptic goldenseal salve might be used to treat eczema.

Generally, commercial goldenseal salve contains very little of the actual herb because it tends to be extremely expensive, so to get the most benefit from the salve, it is recommended to prepare it at home. Another advantage to making an all-natural goldenseal salve in the home is the freedom to combine the herb with other medicinal plants known to work well with it, such as myrrh. One way help reduce the cost of making the salve is to gather the herb from the wild, if it grows in the area, or to cultivate it.

Salves containing the goldenseal herb have been used to treat swelling, burns and skin eruptions.
Salves containing the goldenseal herb have been used to treat swelling, burns and skin eruptions.

Preparation of goldenseal salve in the home is not difficult and requires only three ingredients: beeswax, the root and a natural fat such as olive oil or cocoa fat into which the root is extracted. Sufficient beeswax is added to the prepared oil to obtain a thick consistency characteristic of salves. Areas of the skin to be treated with goldenseal salve should first be clean and dry. It is then liberally applied to the skin and sometimes covered with a clean cloth to prevent staining of clothes.

Some of the conditions that have responded very well with the use of goldenseal salve include ulcers and unexplained skin eruptions. Those who choose to use this home remedy for skin conditions should carefully monitor improvement to ensure that they are dealing with a problem that they can safely and successfully treat with this method. If sores continue to enlarge or deepen, a medical doctor should be consulted to ensure that a more serious condition such as skin cancer is not present. Generally, improvement in the skin should be noticeable within only a few days of treatment with goldenseal salve.

Goldenseal salve may be used to treat ringworm.
Goldenseal salve may be used to treat ringworm.

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Discussion Comments


I use a goldenseal salve for psoriasis. It's great stuff. The salve just contains goldenseal, beeswax and aloe vera. It relieves my symptoms very quickly and it's very soothing and moisturizing.


@ZipLine-- I've actually never made goldenseal salve at home. I buy a commercially made one online.

I think that the extract is made by keeping the root in a natural oil for some time. I think it might be as simple as leaving the root in a jar of olive oil for several weeks. There is also something called goldenseal liquid, which is just goldenseal extract in liquid form. I think you could probably buy that and add it to the other salve ingredients. I'm not sure though and I wouldn't want to give you incorrect advice. So check with someone who has experience with this.


How is the goldenseal root extracted into a natural oil?

I want to make goldenseal salve at home but I'm not sure how to go about it. It sounds like it will be challenging to use the root. How exactly do I extract the benefits of the root for the salve?

Can I use goldenseal salve powder instead? I'm looking for an easy and quick recipe that will be effective.

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