GOLDENROD –Solidago Canadensis, Solidago Multiradiata, Solidago Gigantea, Solidago Occidentalis, Solidago Altissima, Solidago Missouriensis, Solidago Odora, Solidago Virgaurea, etc.
Also known as: wound wort, Canada goldenrod, northern goldenrod, Missouri goldenrod, giant goldenrod, yellow weed, Aaron’s rod, etc.
Parts used: roots, leaves, flowers, seeds
Systems/organs affected: kidneys, bladder, lungs, immune, gastrointestinal, lymphatic
Properties: styptic, diuretic, kidney tonic, analgesic, lymphatic, astringent, anti-allergenic, expectorant, anti-inflammatory, diaphoretic, renal tropho-restorative (nutritional restorative for the renal system), stimulant, antifungal, carminative, vulnerary, cicatrisant (promotes cell regeneration for tissue and skin by scar formation), antioxidant, anti-catarrhal
Goldenrod is a member of the Compositae (daisy) family. There are between 60-130 species of this plant (depending on who you talk to) that have lance-like alternating leaves that may or may not be serrated (depending on the variety). They can be anywhere from two to eight feet tall with clusters of tiny, bright yellow flowers. Depending on the variety the stem may or may not have hairs as well. The erect plant blooms from June to September (depending on the location) and can be found in open meadows, irrigated fields, roadsides, drainage ditches, etc. It is native to North America but can now be found several places throughout the globe. Goldenrod isn’t like other plants that normally spread through insects or wind transfer. It sends out runners from the root and multiplies that way. Often you will find a colony of them growing together. Goldenrod pollen is heavy and so depends entirely on insects for pollination above ground. It does get blamed for a lot of seasonal allergies as it blooms the same time as ragweed which is notorious for causing allergic reactions (ragweed is also wind pollinated) and so it gets a bad rap.
Goldenrod comes from Latin origins and it literally means, ‘to make whole’. It has quite the reputation medicinally and was a very popular herbal remedy which has somehow been forgotten by modern man and big pharma. It is still used widely in Europe though so at least some people have some common sense to keep the plant useful. There are at least 12 species of goldenrod in the Rockies with 8 of them being located right here in Idaho.
Goldenrod, like so many other herbs, has an interesting history. In the Crusades it was often referred to as ‘wound wort’ for its ability to stop bleeding. The injured were often given poultices of the plant until help could get to them, which in those days could take a while. (It was given either in powder form or as a decocted boiled plant wash). The Native Americans used it in much the same way for humans and for saddle sores on horses. The Spanish Americans would mix it with soap to make a plaster for topical use on sore throats (kind of like a throat cast). One particular species called Missouri goldenrod has a high latex content and has been experimented with as a possible replacement for rubber. It was rumored that Thomas Edison was gifted with a car from Henry Ford with tires that Edison had made using the latex of goldenrod plants. For whatever reason the idea never caught on. The root and leaf teas were used both internally and externally for headaches, burns, rheumatic conditions, colds, ulcers, neuralgia, kidney stones, toothaches, etc. The flowers were used for sore throats and were often chewed for such. It was also mixed with other herbs as an immune stimulant and to alleviate fatigue and exhaustion. It has also been used to some degree for diabetes. The Native Americans also used this plant as an edible. The leaves and flowers were added to soups, salads and stews for texture as well as flavor. The leaves were cooked much like spinach and eaten. The seeds were eaten in survival situations and used to thicken gravies and soups. The leaves and flowers provided a lovely tasting tea also known as Blue Mountain Tea which was the tea believed to be tossed into Boston Harbor but then was known as Liberty Tea or Freedom Tea. The tea was used by the natives and early colonists for urinary issues, cramps, intestinal gas, colic and to remove excess mucus from the lungs. The German E Commission also approved its use for urinary, bladder and kidney issues as studies have found it particularly effective for those areas. In Europe it is used to prevent and treat kidney stones. (Better watch out Europe or the FDA word Nazis might come down on you for using those ‘medical’ terms.)
Goldenrod is also an essential oil that is steam distilled from the flowers. It has an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) of 61,900! ORAC was created by the USDA to measure the antioxidant capabilities of foods and plants. When you realize that blueberries have an ORAC value of 2400 and cloves have an ORAC value of over one million you soon have an understanding of the plants with incredible toxin fighting abilities. The oil is mostly used for liver function, the circulatory system, cardiovascular system and the urinary tract. It helps to open up the sacral, root and solar plexus chakras that govern both our sexual and survival instincts. In Ayurvedic medicine it means that rather than being ‘pissy’ and resentful towards others we learn to become more accepting of our life experiences so that we can grow. As this happens we are able to let go of our negative energy and our kidney and bladder energies then begin to flow as they should (detoxifying the body). The oil is used mostly via inhalation through a diffuser or water bath, although people are using it more in topical applications every day (ALWAYS DILUTE). It has been found to be helpful for skin issues, arthritis, gout, athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, burns, insect bites and as a mouthwash for toothaches and oral infections. It is inhaled directly from the bottle or in a diffuser to ease respiratory congestion and to calm and uplift the mind and senses. As it has a citrus pepper like scent it also helps to get rid of odors in the home and/or workplace. It is also purportedly aquaretic-which means it acts as a diuretic without removing electrolytes needed by the body as so many diuretics often do.
Culpeper said that it is a plant of Venus and thus good for beauty (skin). He also stated that, “The decoction of the herb, green or dry, or the distilled water thereof, is very effectual for inward bruises, as also to be outwardly applied it stays bleeding in any part of the body, and of wounds; also the fluxes of humours, the bloody-flux, and women’s courses, and is no less prevalent in all ruptures and burstings, being drank inwardly, and inwardly, and outwardly applied. It is a sovereign wound herb, inferior to none, both for the inward and outward hurts, green wounds, old sores and ulcers, are quickly cured therewith. It is also of especial use in all lotions for sores or ulcers in the mouth, throat, or privy parts of man or woman. The decoction helps to fasten teeth that are loose in the gums.” (1653)
Peter Holmes, author of ‘Energetics of Western Herbs’ said that goldenrod should be used for any chronic kidney condition as it is tropho-restorative for those organs in general. Goldenrod contains rutin. Rutin increases capillary strength and circulation to the cardiovascular system. Apparently it is also a thinking herb in regards to mucus in the body as well. If there is too much mucus goldenrod will thin it out, if there is too little it will produce just enough to do whatever the job is necessary.
Goldenrod is currently being studied for its possible use for cancer (especially prostate) and insulin resistance (diabetes). Both look promising at this time. It will be interesting to see what the future brings with this plant.
With all its benefits you can bet that big pharma will find reasons for you not to take it. WebMD says that you should avoid this plant if you are pregnant and/or nursing, taking diuretics, lithium, blood pressure meds, if you have issues with fluid retention, osteoporosis or are allergic to the ragweed family. It is also advised not to give it to children under 5 years of age. The tea does have a lovely anise like flavor and is believed to be safe to consume up to 3 cups a day. As with any herb, please consult a qualified physician before beginning any herbal product or regimen.
As is customary with my posts I am including some links below for your perusal. Use them as you see fit. Stay strong and healthy