Hydrastis Canadensis Berry Close up Medicinal Herb

Yellow root, Latin name Hydrastis canadensis, is a native herb to North America and is used in traditional Native American medicine for digestive problems, skin ulcers, eye complaints and as a general tonic. Yellow root is rich in plant chemicals such as berbine and hydrastine, which both have powerful antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Boiling yellow root for tea is great for acid reflux, indigestion, wet coughs and acute respiratory infections.

Measure out 1 gram of the dried yellow root with the measuring scales. If the yellow root is still uncut, chop chop the root into finely diced pieces with a sharp knife. The more finely the root is chopped, the more extract you will get.

Bring 500ml of water to boil and add the 1 gram of finely chopped yellow root. Reduce the heat and gently simmer for 20 minutes. This process is called decocting and allows extracting a medicinal tea from tough materials such as bark, seeds and roots.

Take the pot off the heat after 20 minutes and check that the water has achieved a bright yellow hue. This color is the reason for the name yellow root, as the plant yields a powerful dye.

Strain the mixture through a muslin cloth so no root particles get through.

Allow the tea to cool before serving. It is extremely bitter, so add a 1/2 tsp of honey if it is difficult to drink. Eventually your taste buds will get used to the flavor and it will not seem so strong. For acute infections, drink once daily for up to 3 weeks.


  • Yellow root is an endangered plant due to over-harvesting, so only purchase yellow root that has been cultivated organically. If cultivated organic yellow root is not available where you live, other plants that contain berberine and have a similar action to yellow root are Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) and barberry (Berberis vulgaris).