Is Goldenseal Effective for Detoxing from a Drug Test?

You might have heard of goldenseal. It’s a plant found in eastern North America, and its leaves and roots are often used in traditional medicine to treat many different kinds of 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.

How to Pass a Drug Test

To understand how goldenseal works, we need to first understand how THC metabolites are stored in our bodies.

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, your body breaks it down into its metabolite THC-COOH, which then enters and travels through your bloodstream.

From blood, these metabolites enter the ‘enterohepatic recirculation cycle’.

Don’t worry; I’ll simply that for you.

THC-COOH makes its way from blood to the liver, where some of it is removed through stool and urine, while the remainder is reabsorbed into the intestines and makes its way back into the bloodstream.

Now, THC is extremely 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.

So, simply put: if you want to detox from weed, you need to burn more fat, which will release more THC metabolites for excretion via the liver’s enterohepatic cycle.

But there’s a catch.

To pass a drug test quickly, like on the same day, you need to somehow temporarily block the enterohepatic cycle to avoid more THC metabolites to be excreted into the urine before you submit the sample to the lab!

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

Will Goldenseal Help Detox Or Pass a Drug Test?

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

There is very little research and information on how these compounds influence fat loss.

But I’ll tell you about this one study that shows promise.

The study showed that goldenseal inhibited cytochrome P450 CYP2D6, CYP3A4, and CYP3A5 activity by approximately 40%.

Now you might be wondering what cytochromes are? Well, very simply put, cytochromes are proteins found in the cells of animals, plants, and even microorganisms.

Of these, CYP3A4 is an enzyme that is 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, there are two conclusions here: good and bad.

One: if we need to detox from weed, this inhibition of CYP3A4 is good, because more 11-OH-THC production means more of it will be metabolized for excretion.

Two: if we need to pass a drug test and temporarily flush the metabolites out of the bladder, this is bad, since inhibiting CYP3A4 will lead to more THC-COOH in the urine.

So, the question remains: can goldenseal be useful in detoxing THC?

Let’s look into another study that might make things clearer.

Goldenseal and Weight Loss

Another study showed that berberine (one of the main components of goldenseal 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 therefore improving metabolism and gastrointestinal hormone levels.

Now, this study does suggest 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 huge 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.

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 increasing its excretion through urine, 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 actually have it, or have fairly little amounts of it. So, such supplements and products could have side-effects and interactions different from those normally 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.