Hydrastine pharmacokinetics and metabolism after a single oral dose of goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) to humans

Drug Metab Dispos. 2015 Apr;43(4):534-52. doi: 10.1124/dmd.114.059410. Epub 2015 Jan 21.


The disposition and metabolism of hydrastine was investigated in 11 healthy subjects following an oral dose of 2.7 g of goldenseal supplement containing 78 mg of hydrastine. Serial blood samples were collected for 48 hours, and urine was collected for 24 hours. Hydrastine serum and urine concentrations were determined by Liquid Chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Pharmacokinetic parameters for hydrastine were calculated using noncompartmental methods. The maximal serum concentration (Cmax) was 225 ± 100 ng/ml, Tmax was 1.5 ± 0.3 hours, and area under the curve was 6.4 ± 4.1 ng ⋅ h/ml ⋅ kg. The elimination half-life was 4.8 ± 1.4 hours. Metabolites of hydrastine were identified in serum and urine by using liquid chromatography coupled to high-resolution mass spectrometry. Hydrastine metabolites were identified by various mass spectrometric techniques, such as accurate mass measurement, neutral loss scanning, and product ion scanning using Quadrupole-Time of Flight (Q-ToF) and triple quadrupole instruments. The identity of phase II metabolites was further confirmed by hydrolysis of glucuronide and sulfate conjugates using bovine β-glucuronidase and a Helix pomatia sulfatase/glucuronidase enzyme preparation. Hydrastine was found to undergo rapid and extensive phase I and phase II metabolism. Reduction, O-demethylation, N-demethylation, hydroxylation, aromatization, lactone hydrolysis, and dehydrogenation of the alcohol group formed by lactone hydrolysis to the ketone group were observed during phase I biotransformation of hydrastine. Phase II metabolites were primarily glucuronide and sulfate conjugates. Hydrastine undergoes extensive biotransformation, and some metabolites may have pharmacological activity. Further study is needed in this area.

Publication types

  • Clinical Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Benzylisoquinolines / administration & dosage
  • Benzylisoquinolines / blood*
  • Benzylisoquinolines / metabolism
  • Benzylisoquinolines / urine*
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Drug Stability
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Hydrastis / chemistry*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Detoxication, Phase I
  • Metabolic Detoxication, Phase II
  • Pilot Projects
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Benzylisoquinolines
  • hydrastine