Is Goldenseal Effective for Detoxing for a Drug Test?

You might have heard of Goldenseal. It’s a plant found in eastern North America. Its leaves and roots are often used in traditional medicine to treat many different diseases, especially those containing infections or inflammation.

But did you know that this popular herb can also be an effective solution for detoxing before a drug test?

Let us find out how you can use Goldenseal to pass a drug test and exactly what amount of the plant is required to successfully detox your system from weed.

But before getting into that, read the basic principle behind passing a drug test.

Marijuana Metabolism and Drug Testing

Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the chemical behind most of marijuana’s psychological effects – basically, the compound that makes you ‘high’ after taking weed.

When you consume marijuana, THC enters the bloodstream.

THC is highly fat-soluble and eventually deposits in the fat cells until it is gradually re-circulated into the bloodstream when our body breaks down fat for energy.

With the blood, THC goes to your liver. The liver breaks THC down into metabolites (like THC-COOH).

After that, about 60% of THC metabolites go to the intestines for removal with feces.

From intestines, these metabolites enter the “enterohepatic recirculation” cycle. This is when part of the metabolites are reabsorbed back into the blood from the intestines.

Marijuana metabolism scheme

To pass a drug test, you can go two ways:


For this method, you need to get marijuana metabolites from your system. To do this, you need to burn more fat, which will release more THC metabolites for excretion. And you need to speed up marijuana metabolism in the liver.


For this method, you need to flush marijuana metabolites from the bladder temporarily. After that, you’ll be able to pee clean for several hours.

To do this, you need to block the breakdown of fats and slow THC metabolism in the liver.

As you see, these methods are opposite to each other.

Can Goldenseal help us with any of this? Let’s find out!

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Does Goldenseal help detox THC?

The main active ingredients of Goldenseal are known as ‘isoquinoline alkaloids.’ These include berberine, canadine, and hydrastine.

A study showed that berberine (one of Goldenseal’s main components mentioned above) prevents obesity in rats. [3]

Berberine was found to protect against diet-induced obesity in high-fat diet-fed rats by modifying the gut microbiota (helpful microbes found in the digestive tract) and improving metabolism and gastrointestinal hormone levels.

This study suggests that berberine might be an effective therapeutic agent for treating obesity and insulin resistance, but it was performed on rats and not humans.

And obviously, there’s a considerable difference between rats and humans. I’m sure you’ll agree.

Also, the study shows that berberine prevents obesity; it doesn’t show that it might help burn more body fat, which is what we need for Goldenseal to be an effective detox agent.

Some researches in humans show that taking berberine can help to reduce weight in obese people.

So, there’s no good evidence that Goldenseal will help to burn more fat and help to detox.

Does Goldenseal help to flush for a drug test?

The study showed that Goldenseal inhibited(slowed down) the activity of CYP2D6, CYP3A4 enzymes by approximately 40%.

Of these, CYP3A4 is an enzyme involved in metabolizing 11-OH-THC into the minor THC metabolite 8,11-OH-THC. When Goldenseal inhibits CYP3A4, this process slows down, leading to 11-OH-THC metabolized into THC-COOH instead.

And THC-COOH is the metabolite that drug tests are looking for in the urine.

So if you want to flush for a drug test inhibiting CYP3A4 will lead to more THC-COOH in the urine, which is bad.

Here’s what experts have to say about using Goldenseal for masking illegal drugs in urine tests: [4]

“Goldenseal is often promoted to mask illicit drugs in the urine, but taking Goldenseal by mouth does not seem to cause a false-negative result on drug tests for amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, opiates, phencyclidine, and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Drinking one gallon of water with Goldenseal does not increase the number of false negatives over water alone.”

Bottom line

Goldenseal can have a minor positive effect on natural detoxification from THC by improving far burning, but it doesn’t help if you need to pass a drug test quickly.

Dangers of Taking Goldenseal

Well, research-based on Goldenseal’s safety is quite limited; its short-term use hasn’t been established, and little is defined about its safety for long-term use or use at high dosages [4].

So that means that there can be certain side-effects of taking Goldenseal. Common ones include:

  • Hallucinations and delirium
  • Digestive disorders, such as constipation
  • Irritation of the mouth, skin, or throat
  • Increased sensitivity to sunlight
  • Nausea and vomiting

Also, be warned: since Goldenseal is quite costly, products claiming to contain it might not have it or have relatively little amounts. So, such supplements and products could have side-effects and interactions different from those generally seen with Goldenseal.

And much hasn’t been investigated about its interactions with other drugs as well.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, Goldenseal slows down the activity of certain liver enzymes. This means that the excretion of some medications, such as antidepressants, and other substances that could be toxic to our body, slows down.

This means these substances stay in the body for longer than required and could reach a toxic level, which isn’t good at all.

Goldenseal also isn’t safe to take during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

So if you’re looking for something to detox your body of weed, and that too quickly, Goldenseal probably isn’t the best option.