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University of Guelph

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Medicinal

GRIPP Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis

For thousands of years humans have relied upon the therapeutic properties of plants for treating a wide spectrum of ailments. Today, medicinal plants are still an important component for ensuring ones healthy and mindfulness, with natural health products or herbal supplements sales representing a 7.45 billion USD industry in North America in 2016. Increased demand for medicinal plant products has led to increased pressures being placed on wild populations due to over-harvesting. Furthermore, these populations are also increasingly becoming threatened or endangered due to habitat loss and climate change. To address this complex issue, GRIPP is currently working to ensure that medicinal plant populations remain for future generations by developing in vitro technologies which promote sustainable cultivation of medicinal species as well as their long-term survival in the wild.

Did you Know?

Goldenseal was recently listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List

GRIPP Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis
  • Historically goldenseal was a revered medicinal plant amongst North American indigenous peoples as well as early settlers.
  • Although leaves, seeds, fruits and whole plants have reportedly been used as medicine, the roots are most often employed medicinally for a wide spectrum of conditions.
  • Today, goldenseal root is heavily sought after for domestic and international trade in both the United States and Canada. While a good portion of commercially sold raw materials are believed to come from cultivated sources, it is unclear how much is being collected in the wild as there are limited restrictions in place to prevent wild-harvesting.
  • Goldenseal root is currently listed under Appendix II of the CITES (Convention for International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) requiring exporters to proof that specimens were collected legally and not in a manner which threatens the long-term survival of the species.
Find out more about what GRIPP is doing to conserve Goldenseal populations

American Ginseng has been traded internationally for its medicinal benefits since the 18th Century, at one point rivalling the fur trade.

GRIPP American Ginseng Panax quinquefolius
  • The medicinal benefits of American ginseng have long been known by North American indigenous peoples.
  • In 1715, export to China was initiated by a Jesuit priest who had read descriptions from China regarding the benefits of ginseng and decided to export to Hong Kong.
  • Severe over harvesting in the past led wild American ginseng to become rare in Canadian forests.
  • Collection of American ginseng from the wild is not permitted in Canada.
  • American ginseng is grown commercially. It is considered Canada’s largest field grown export, with over 2.63 million kilograms being exported annually (Value greater than $239 million dollars).
Find out more about what GRIPP is doing to conserve American Ginseng populations