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Goldenrod

Goldenrod-Late Summer Medicinal Plant

You know it is late summer when the Goldenrod begins to bloom. The rich golden flowers are hard to miss. The first part of the official Latin name for this plant is Solidago, e.g. Solidago canadensis. The Latin Solidago means “to make whole”. This tells you a lot about how our ancestors viewed this remarkable plant.

You can be sure when the goldenrod begins to bloom allergy suffers will blame the poor goldenrod for their symptoms. Unfortunately, this valuable plant gets a bad rap and is accused of causing allergy pain and suffering by those who don’t know better. However, it is guilt by association. You see, the pollen of goldenrod is very heavy and sticky. It is spread mostly by insects to fertilize other flowers. It doesn’t get spread around by the wind.

It has the dubious honor to bloom at almost exactly the same time as ragweed. In fact, you may find ragweed and goldenrod growing right alongside each other. They prefer the same growing conditions, so this explains why this happens frequently. Ragweed pollen is a powerful allergen to those who are sensitive to it. Ragweed pollen is spread by the wind so in most cases the ragweed is what is causing your allergy symptoms.

One caveat to that is that there have been cases reported of those that handle goldenrod frequently, such as florists, that have developed an allergy and had to find other work. So, if you are allergic to ragweed you may have an allergic reaction to goldenrod as well. Please keep that in mind if you decide to try any of the recipes below.

With that being said, goldenrod is an amazing herb when it comes to its medicinal uses. Although there aren’t a lot of scientific human studies on its health effects, we have many years of historical use in folk medicine. We do know a lot about the plant itself, and the chemical constituents that may be responsible for some of its reported effects.

This plant has been used for its actions on the urinary tract, kidneys, skin, cardiovascular system, and for allergies.

It has the following effects:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • anti-fungal
  • antiseptic
  • diaphoretic
  • diuretic
  • expectorant
  • astringent

Let’s look at some uses of Goldenrod more closely.

Muscle & Arthritis Pain

Make an infused oil as shown below and use the oil to rub into sore muscles or painful joints. The anti-inflammatory properties of this amazing plant can help relieve the pain. It can also be used to decrease the swelling and itching of bug bites and other skin irritations. Wounds and burns can also be treated by soaking a dressing in the oil and covering the wound. This can help to decrease swelling and also to help relieve pain in the area.

Stop Bleeding

The dried leaves can be crushed and used to stop bleeding in cuts and wounds. They can be substituted for the styptic powder you may use when you cut yourself shaving. If you are in the wilderness and experience a bleeding wound, find some goldenrod leaves and chew them slightly to make a poultice and place it over the wound to stop the bleeding.

A Great Source Of Antioxidants

The tea made from goldenrod is high in a flavonoid known as rutin. Rutin has been shown in studies to be beneficial for heart and cardiovascular health. Antioxidants help to reduce the amount of oxygen free radicals which can cause oxidative damage to cells in your body. This cell damage is a major cause of and contributor to the functional decline of cells as we age. This is one reason you should eat foods high in antioxidants.

Ways To Use Goldenrod

It can be used in these ways:

  • Dry the upper 1/3 of the plant and make a tea
  • Make a tincture
  • Make an infused oil

Let’s look at each of these and the uses for each in your natural medicinal arsenal.

Tea

To make a healing tea there are several methods you can use. The easiest method is to simply cut the upper 1/3 of the plant above a leaf joint. Simply tie the plant tops together and hang them upside-down in a location with good airflow. Once the leaves are dry the leaves and flowers are easy to strip from the stem. Store this in an airtight container until you need it. You can also strip the leaves and flowers and place them in a food dehydrator to dry them.

To make the tea simply add 2 tablespoons of dried goldenrod to a cup and cover with boiling water. Allow to steep for 10-15 minutes, then strain and drink. You can sweeten with honey if desired. Actually, I find the tea is quite palatable without the honey and has a slightly sweet taste with an almost imperceptible bitter aftertaste. This may vary with the type. Since there are over 100 different types you may find the type you harvest to have slightly different tastes. The addition of honey also has the added health benefits of the honey. A 1-2 punch of healthy natural ingredients.

Tincture

A tincture is an alcohol infusion made with high-grade alcohol such as vodka or grain alcohol. You want the alcohol content to be at least 40%. This means you need alcohol of at least 80 proof no matter which you choose. Note that increasing the alcohol content doesn’t seem to make a big difference in the finished tincture. Just be sure to choose one that has an acceptable taste, as tinctures are made to be taken by mouth. It won’t do any good if it sits on a shelf because it tastes so bad!

Infused Oil

There are a number of ways to make an infused oil. An infused oil is a carrier oil such as sunflower oil that has been infused with the medicinal plant you are working with. In this instance, you would fill a jar with the tops of the plant. Just use a pair of scissors to cut the plant tops into sections small enough to easily fit through the opening on your jar. I use a one-quart mason jar for creating my infused oils. Once the jar is full you can use any carrier oil you like to fill the jar. If you want to read more about carrier oils you can read this article, or this article, to learn more about them.

The simplest way to create an infused oil is to simply seal the jar and place it in a cabinet for 6-8 weeks. This allows the oil to extract the constituents from the plant. The oil can then be used topically as it is, or be used to create a salve or balm for topical use. I prefer to make a salve by combining the infused goldenrod oil with shea butter and beeswax, along with a few drops of vitamin E oil. There are many recipes to create a balm online. If you prefer a more solid balm just omit the shea butter and add double the amount of beeswax to your recipe. You can use the same recipe I use in this video where I make homemade lip balm.

I prefer the heat method, which I demonstrate in the video above. Although it is a little more work, you can have your infused oil in a much shorter time frame. This is usually 3-4 days. I also like this method because I can see the progress of the oil as it slowly takes on the color of the plant material I am working with. For goldenrod, the oil will become a beautiful golden color. This oil can then be used to create your salves or balms by melting beeswax and mixing in the oil. You can also add such things as shea butter or vitamin E oil to make your salve or balm even more nourishing and healthy for your skin.

If you would like information on other wild medicinal plants you can read some of our other articles such as this one on Mullein.

For more information about other wild medicinal plants and essential oils you can visit our list of articles.

Disclaimer: This article should not be construed as medical advice. The health information in this article is not intended to assess, diagnose, prescribe, or promise a cure for any medical condition. Consult with your health care professional before considering any natural supplement or plant remedy for your health and wellness. We assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet, or using manufactured or natural medications.