Goldenrod blooms right around the time ragweed pollen starts causing trouble, so is often unjustly blamed for causing allergies.
The fact though is that goldenrod pollen is heavy and spread by insects, instead of the wind like ragweed is, making it pretty difficult to trigger symptoms of hay fever. You would have to deeply sniff the flower to get the pollen in your nose.
Anything – natural or synthetic – that you put on or in your body has a chance of causing allergic reaction in susceptible individuals though.
So, don’t think of an allergy to goldenrod as being impossible, just be aware that it’s nowhere near as common as most people think it is.
Where you find goldenrod, you’re likely to find some ragweed growing nearby, but otherwise, the two plants look and act very different from each other.
In the photo below, you can see that goldenrod has bright yellow flowers, and that common ragweed has deeply lobed leaves and nondescript greenish flowers.
Characteristics of Goldenrod
- height varies from 2 to 6 feet tall
- lanced leaves
- bright yellow flowers that bloom in late summer & early fall
- often grow in fields, open areas, roadsides or near the edges of woods
There are a LOT of species, with a few differences in appearance, but they all have similar medicinal properties. Try a Google search like: Identify Species of Goldenrod for more on the different species you see where you live.
Benefits of Goldenrod
Goldenrod is “recommended for treatment of infections and inflammations, to prevent formation of kidney stones and to help remove urinary gravel” (link to study on PubMed).
It may lower cholesterol and prevent atherosclerosis (study link), is an effective remedy for upper respiratory inflammation and congestion, rhinitis, seasonal allergy, sinus infection, colds and influenza (Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians, page 92).
The infused oil and salve is a traditional remedy for aches and pains and makes a great addition to any arthritis or pain-relieving salves you create.
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Uses for Goldenrod
These are several ways that you can use goldenrod:
- Dried Flowers (for tea or infusions)
- Infused Oil
I also love the looks of this goldenrod honey recipe from Pixie’s Pocket and how Plain & Joyful Living used goldenrod to dye yarn!
On my want-to-try-list for this month: making goldenrod soap, since I hear it will naturally impart a shade of yellow to the finished bars. I’ll keep you posted how it turns out!
(UPDATE: I made my goldenrod soap! CLICK HERE for the recipe.)
To Make a Tincture
Fill a small jar around 1/2 to 3/4 of the way with chopped, fresh goldenrod flowers. If using dried, fill the jar about 1/4 to 1/2 way. (A few leaves are okay too include too.)
Pour a high-proof alcohol such as vodka or brandy until the jar is filled. Cap, label and store our of direct sunlight for at least 4 to 6 weeks. Strain.
Tinctures are usually good for at least 1 year. (I have some that are 3 years old that are still going strong.)
I generally dose my family in small amounts (around 5 drops at a time, mixed with a spoonful of raw honey.) I like to start with a little bit and see how it goes.
According to Richo Cech in Making Plant Medicine though, an typical adult dose can be as high as 30 to 60 drops of tincture diluted in a little water and taken 3 to 5 times a day.
Smaller frames, high metabolisms, and milder conditions will need smaller doses while larger body types and more entrenched conditions may need the full amount.
Use what feels right to you from that information, but certainly check with your health care provider if you have any questions or concerns before use.
To Dry Flowers
Spread the flower heads out on a clean dish cloth or paper towels. Use your fingers or scissors to break up any large sections so that they can air dry in a single layer. You can also hang the goldenrod clusters to dry. Depending on the humidity in your area, this may take a few days or a week or more.
Once fully dried, store in a labeled mason jar. Dried herbs generally stay fresh 9 months to a year, but if the color fades considerably, then it’s probably past its prime.
To Make Goldenrod Tea
Use around 2 tablespoons of fresh flowers per 1 cup of water. If using dried flowers, use half as much (1 tablespoon per 1 cup of water). Cover and steep for 15 to 20 minutes before straining. Sweeten with raw honey, if desired.
A warm tea will act as a diuretic (something that promotes the production of urine) and antiseptic for treating mild bladder infections. (If you have kidney problems, are on a diuretic – such as Lasix, or blood pressure medication or have other health issues – check with your doctor before self-treating, because goldenrod might not be right for you.)
To Make Goldenrod-Infused Oil
Fill a jar 1/4 to 1/2 of the way with dried goldenrod flowers. Pour an oil (such as sunflower, sweet almond or olive) over the flowers until the jar is full. You can infuse the oil the slow way, the solar way or the speedy way.
- Slow way – Cap the jar and tuck it into a dark cabinet for 4 to 6 weeks. Strain.
- Solar way – Don’t cap the jar, but cover it with a piece of cheesecloth or scrap of old t-shirt instead. Set the jar in a sunny window for several days (or a few weeks). The heat from the sun will help the oil infuse faster. (This is my favorite method to use for goldenrod.)
- Speedy way – Don’t cover the jar, but instead set it down into a small saucepan containing a few inches of water. Set the pan over a low burner and heat for around 2 to 3 hours, watching the oil carefully. You can then strain the oil and use right away, or let the oil continue infusing for another few days before straining.
To Make Goldenrod Salve
- 3.5 oz (100 g) goldenrod-infused oil
- 0.5 oz (14 g) beeswax
Place the oil and beeswax in a canning jar or heat-proof container. Set the jar down into a saucepan containing a few inches of water, forming a makeshift double boiler. Set the pan over medium-low heat until the beeswax is melted. If you used a small canning jar for melting, you can use it for storing the salve as well. This recipe will fill three 2 fl oz tins.
If you’d like to make this by volume, the beeswax converts to roughly 1.5 tablespoons (grated or pastilles, packed very tightly in the spoon) and the oil measures out to be approximately 1/2 cup.
Use goldenrod-infused oil and salve for muscle aches and pains.
HERBAL SALVES & BALMS
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Sources for This Article:
Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians, by Patricia Kyritsi Howell
Making Plant Medicine, by Richo Cech
Important Note: Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have chronic health conditions, or have any questions or concerns about this or any herbal home remedy.