The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!


Scientific Names


  • Coptis trifolia L.
  • Coptis groenlandica L.
  • Buttercup family

Common Names

  • Canker root
  • Huang-lien (Chinese name)
  • Mouthroot
  • Vegetable gold
  • Yellowroot

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Parts Usually Used

Rootstock, dried
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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Goldthread is a low, small, perennial plant; from a slender, golden, creeping rootstock arise the basal, long-petioled, trifoliate, shiny evergreen leaves, each with three toothed leaflets, and the naked scapes, 3-6 inches high, which terminate in a small, white flower. Each flower has 5-7 petals and many stamens. Flowering time is May to August. The fruit is an oblong capsule or pod-like.

Another plant called Yellow root (Xanthorhiza simplicissima) is of the buttercup family also.
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Where Found

Found in mossy, cool, woods and swamps from Labrador south to Maryland and west to Minnesota, Iowa, and Tennessee. Also in Canada, Iceland, Siberia, and India.
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Medicinal Properties

Bitter tonic, antiphlogistic, sedative
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Legends, Myths and Stories

The plant gets its name from the threadlike, bright yellow roots. The yellow color comes from the berberine alkaloid. And, of course, the name canker root came from the fact that the herb treats canker sores.

The Native Americans and the colonists used the gold thread herb for any soreness in the mouth, but it is very bitter.
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Has been used internally as a bitter tonic, particularly for dyspepsia. Its main use has been as a wash or gargle for sores and ulcerations in the mouth, jaundice, throat, and even stomach. It has been a popular folk remedy for inflammations of mucous membranes in the mouth and around the eyes. It is said to help people combat the craving for alcohol. Improves appetite and was given to children for thrush. Contains berberine; anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. Used in the treatment of alcoholism.
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Formulas or Dosages

Collect the rootstock in the fall.

Decoction: boil 1 tsp. rootstock in 1 cup water. Take 1 tbsp., 3-6 times a day; or use as a wash or gargle. Rootstock also may be chewed to alleviate mouth sores.

Tincture: take 5-10 drops at a time.

To make a tincture, place 1 oz. of the cut root in a pint of good brandy. Cap tightly and let it stand for 1 week, shaking the bottle once or twice a day. Strain. Dose: 1 tsp. in 1/2 glass water 3 times a day.
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Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

Buy It! Chinese Medicinal Herbs, compiled by Shih-Chen Li, Georgetown Press, San Francisco, California, 1973.

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts, by Frances Densmore, Dover Publications, Inc., 180 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014, first printed by the United States Government Printing Office, Washington, in 1928, this Dover edition 1974

Buy It! An Instant Guide to Medicinal Plants, by Pamela Forey and Ruth Lindsay, Crescent Books (January 27, 1992).

Buy It! Old Ways Rediscovered, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, published from 1954, print 1988

Buy It! Secrets of the Chinese Herbalists, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Company, Inc., West Nyack, NY, 1987.

Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

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