Goldenseal + DIY Herbal Mouthwash

It all started at my city market and an immediate glance at a single bottle on a wall filled from floor to ceiling with herbs and spices. “Goldenseal” read the label. I instantly recognized Hydrastis canadensis because I had planted many little seeds in my backwoods this past fall. I had also learned about it in school, but never had the chance to use it in practice. Because it is an at-risk woodland medicinal I tended to reach for more common herbs. But this herb shop I knew grew all of their own herbs so I knew it hadn’t been wildcrafted. Also, because my eye was drawn to it immediately, I’m never one to pass up a sign or call anything a coincidence.

So I bought an ounce along with some other herbs and headed home. Meanwhile my tongue was throbbing. I could barely talk or eat without intense pain at the tip. Little white dots were spreading across it rapidly. I thought I had bit it, but because there was no change after a few days I headed to the doctor to make sure it wasn’t something more serious. A lovely lady with white hair, glasses, and a confident stride informed me that it didn’t look like anything serious, but was most likely a local infection. And that, she told me, I would just have to wait out. It could take a couple weeks, and if it didn’t go away I should go see a dentist.

The thought of living like that for another couple of weeks was unbearable. So I did what any herbalist does and went to the herb shop. When I saw goldenseal, I knew of it’s use for eye infections specifically, but also thought it could be helpful for the tongue as well.

When I got home I made a strong infusion of goldenseal, sage, thyme, and calendula then added some peppermint essential oil and tea tree essential oil. I swished it around my mouth a few times that day for a few minutes.

But then the next morning came. I woke up, dreading breakfast because I was so hungry but so much in pain. But as I came to, there was no pain. I ate a little bit of banana. No pain. I talked to my husband. No pain. I could barely believe it. Had this infection that I had been told could last weeks have gone away overnight? It seemed impossible. And yet it had. It didn’t come back and the white dots were completely gone. Hence why I’m sharing this wonderful recipe.

Here are the main ingredients and how they help:

  • Goldenseal: It’s anti-microbial and astringent properties help to fight bacteria and tighten up tissue that is typically so moist on the tongue

  • Calendula: Not only is it anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, but it is also anti-inflammatory to reduce swelling that may be associated with infection

  • Sage: Known for helping heal a sore throat or irritated gums, sage can also help other oral issues with it’s drying energetics and anti-bacterial action

  • Thyme: Another drying herb, thyme isn’t just for the kitchen. It also has powerful anti-fungal properties to help clear up stagnant infections

  • Peppermint: Externally it can be used as an analgesic, or pain reliever, which is a huge relief with infections. It is also a mild disinfectant.

  • Tea tree: Anti-spetic, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties make it a great infection fighter.

Because this was going to be used as more of a topcial use rather than internal, I wasn’t too worried about dosage and put a hefty amount of each herb in my mesh infuser.

This mouthwash can also be used for other oral issues such as canker sores, sore or inflamed gums, tongue discoloration (though this could be an indication of other underlying issues), and overal health.



  1. Boil two cups of water on the stovetop.

  2. Add a good-size pinch of goldenseal, thyme, sage, and calendula to the mesh infusion basket in your teapot

  3. Pour water that has just been removed from heat into the teapot as well.

  4. Let infuse for about 5-7 minutes.

  5. Pour infused liquid into mason jars and let cool to room temperature without the lids on.

  6. Add 5-10 drops of peppermint essential oil and tea tree essential oil and stir.

  7. Swish around mouth 2-4 times a day when infection is present or once daily for overall oral health.

Valerie ElkhornComment