Materia Medica - Goldenrod
Contrary to popular belief, goldenrod does not cause hay fever. Its pollen grains, carried by pollinating insects, are much heavier than those of ragweed and other plants with airborne pollens that may be associated with allergies or hay fever. It is in fact one of the most effective remedies for the respiratory, urinary, and digestive systems.
Latin Binomial: Solidago canadensis, Solidago spp.
Common Name(s): Goldenrod, solidago
TCM Name: Huang Hua
Ayurvedic Name: n/a
Family: Asteracea (Aster family)
Physical Description of the Plant:
Goldenrod plants have alternate, simple leaves that can be entire or slightly toothed, hairy or smooth. Leaves are typically longer closer to the base of the plants. Leaves vary in shape by species. The stems do not typically branch until they begin to flower. Being an aster family member, goldenrod has its yellow inflorescence arranged in flower heads comprising disc and ray florets, anywhere from several to thirty florets per head, depending on the species. The flower heads, miniature structures that look like “flowers” to the untrained eye, are typically a half inch or less in width. The inflorescence is most typically a raceme or panicle, but can be a corymb.
Habitat: Most goldenrod species are native to North America, a few species are native to Eurasia and South America. in meadows, fields, and open woods and along roads. The range varies by species—most anyone in North America has at least several local species that are abundant. A few species of goldenrod have escaped cultivation in Europe and China. Solidago virgaurea is found across most of Europe, western Asia, and North Africa, where it is grown as a garden flower and medicinal. Any goldenrod species can be used medicinally.
Harvest and Collection: Harvest flowering tops and leaves in midsummer before the flowers fully open.
Parts of the Plant Used: Aerial parts; preferably in the bud stage.
Qualities: Aromatic, warming and drying.
Energetics: Slightly bitter. Some varieties are more bitter, others more astringent, and some specialize in resinous flavors. Sweet goldenrod (S. odora) possesses honeyed hints of anise or licorice and is a prized beverage tea.
- Catechol tannins
- Diterpene lactones
- Phenol glycosides
- Phenolic acids
- Triterpene saponins
- Triterpenoid glycosides
- Diaphoretic (stimulating)
Eastern: Goldenrod is particularly helpful for the Water Element, not only for its diuretic and cleansing effect on the bladder and kidneys; Solidago can help with infections and inflammation as well as stones and gravel. In addition to its heat clearing and soothing properties, Goldenrod is also fortifying; it can help to boost Kidney Qi, the physical energy that governs the organ’s functions, and enrich the Yin, a moistening, receptive, nourishing quality. Solidago can even somewhat nourish the precious “Essence” or “Jing” -the very foundation from which we grow and thrive- that is stored energetically within the Kidneys.
Indications: Allergies, urinary tract infections, sore throats, post-nasal drip.
Contraindications/Cautions: Do not use in pregnancy. Consult a qualified health care practitioner before using goldenrod with chronic kidney disorders. It is contraindicated in edema from heart failure or kidney failure since the diuretic effect causes mainly water, not salt, to be excreted.
Goldenrod can be overly drying as a beverage or tonic tea for people with a dry constitution, as it is diuretic, astringent, and decongestant. Short-term usage shouldn’t be a problem. Although rare, goldenrod has caused allergic contact dermatitis after both handling and oral administration.
Drug Interactions: May have mild interactions with diuretics.
Tincture: Fresh flowering herb (1:2 95%) or dry flowering herb (1:4 60%); either preparation 2–4 ml three times a day.
Infusion: 1 tablespoon per cup of water; or 1:0.9 fresh + dry strength liquid extract: 10-50 drops 1-4 times per day.
Combinations: For allergies combine with nettles, eyebright, mullein. Combine with sage (Salvia officinalis) in a strong infusion for a gargle for sore throats, thrush, and laryngitis. For urinary tract infections, combine goldenrod, marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis), corn silk (Zea mays), and uva-ursi (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) in equal parts to prepare a tea.
Folklore: In traditional medical practices, goldenrod is used to treat tuberculosis, diabetes, enlargement of the liver, gout, hemorrhoids, internal bleeding, asthma, and rheumatic disorders of the muscles and joints. Topical preparations of goldenrod are used in folk medicine to treat inflammation ofthe mouth and throat as well as slow-healing wounds. European goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea) is an important folk remedy for lessening bleeding and diarrhea and healing wounds. Today, goldenrod is primarily used as an aquaretic agent, meaning that it promotes the loss of water from the body (as compared to a diuretic, which promotes the loss of both water and electrolytes such as salt). It is used frequently in Europe to treat urinary tract inflammation and to prevent or treat kidney stones. In fact, goldenrod is commonly found in teas to help " flush out " kidney stones and stop inflammatory diseases of the urinary tract.
Nicolas Culpepper wrote, “The decoction also helps to fasten the teeth that are loose in the gums,” interesting because according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Kidneys rule the bones and teeth. Matthew Wood writes, “Solidago is bitter, warm, and pungent, a combination ideally suited for use as a carminative—that is, for stimulating and increasing digestion."
Flower Essence: Goldenrod’s scientific name Solidago comes from the Latin word solidus, which means: “whole” as in “to make one whole” or to bind or bring together. In this way Goldenrod flower essence connects you to your higher-self (makes one whole).
Applications: Goldenrod is indicated for influenza, repeated colds, bronchitis, tonsillitis, sinusitis and allergies. It is one of the strongest herbs for drying the sinuses. The diuretic action of goldenrod is also helpful in treating edema, gout, and kidney stones.
Goldenrod and Ginger Wine (Pixie's Pocket)
- 1 gallon of filtered or well water
- 4 cups of goldenrod flowers rinsed and removed from the main stem
- 1 inch of minced ginger, unpeeled
- 3-4 cups of sugar
- 1 cup of strong brewed black tea
- 1 small chopped handful of raisins
- A splash of lemon juice (or half a lemon’s worth, optionally chop and add rind to brew to add citrus bitters)
- 1 packet of yeast (a sweet wine or mead yeast is best, but even baking yeast works in a pinch!)
1. Boil most of the clean water in a large pot with the ginger added in. While that is happening, sanitize your gallon jug, funnel, strainer, and your airlock and bung. (Don’t know what those are? Click here.)
2. Prepare the flowers! If you have a muslin bag or cheesecloth, add the goldenrod to it. If not, you’ll need a strainer when you pour the mixture into the carboy later. You could also simply leave the flowers in your brew if you don’t mind floaty bits to clean out of your carboy after bottling.
3. Remove the boiling water from heat and add the goldenrod, raisins, lemon juice and tea. Give it all a stir and then cover the pot and let it sit for about 15 minutes, or until it is a bit cooled off. If you have the goldenrod flowers in a muslin bag, you can now remove them and squeeze out all of the liquid back into the pot.
3. Pour your sugar or honey into the warm tea and stir to dissolve.
4. Once the pot is cool enough to handle and the liquid safe to pour, strain the tea into the sanitized carboy and top it off with the rest of the clean water to the neck. Add the bung and airlock to the jug.
5. When the carboy is cool enough to touch add about a half-packet of yeast. Within a day or two, the jug should be bubbling happily. It should be bubbling for a month or so. (You can see a video of a happy fermenting beer here, for reference!)
6. When the bubbles stop and the liquid is clear, it is time to bottle! I used swing-top bottles for this brew, which are better for short-term aging. If you want to age the wine for longer than a year, use corked bottles instead.
This golden-white brew ends up tasting like a dry white wine with citrus overtones. In my experience, the longer it aged, the more active it became. I made my first batch of goldenrod wine in 2013, bottled it in January 2014, and we just opened the very last bottle in August of 2016. It was VERY ACTIVE as you can see in the image below. Just look at the head in that bottle!
The more bubbles, the more head, the more yeast activity you have, the less sweet your brew. We added some sugar syrup to this last bottle to make it the flavor come out, and it was delicious!
Urinary Tract Tea
- 1 Tablespoon marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis)
- 2 Tablespoons corn silk (Zea mays)
- 1 Tablespoon goldenrod flowering herb (Solidago spp.)
- 1 1⁄2 Tablespoons uva-ursi herb (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), ground
Add the uva-ursi and marshmallow root to 32 ounces (1 L) of water. Simmer for twenty minutes. Turn off the heat and add the corn silk and goldenrod. Infuse covered until the tea cools to room temperature and strain. Adults may drink up to 4 cups (32 ounces or 1 L) a day. The measurements in this blend are for dried cut and sifted herbs. If you’re using homegrown or wildcrafted herbs—or fresh herbs—use larger quantities.
Sinus Congestion Formula
- 1 part tincture yarrow flower (Achillea millefolium)
- 2 parts tincture goldenrod flowering herb (Solidago spp.)
- 2 parts tincture elder flower (Sambucus canadensis)
- 1 part tincture nettles leaf (Urtica dioica)
Combine all the tinctures, using the above proportions. Use fresh tinctures if possible (1:2 95%), but you can substitute dried tinctures. Combine all tinctures and store in a glass dispensing bottle. Dosage is 4 ml (4⁄5 of a teaspoon) three times a day. For short-term, acute use, lasting no more than three days, you can take 3 ml up to six times a day.
[Goldenrod--a classical exponent in the urological phytotherapy]. Wien Med Wochenschr. 2004 Nov;154(21-22):523-7.
Herbal remedies based on goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea L.) have been well-tried for centuries in the treatment of urinary tract diseases. Investigations in molecular pharmacology could show new mechanisms responsible for the biological effect of natural product from goldenrod extracts. The use of such herbal preparations with a rather complex action spectrum (anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, diuretic, antispasmodic, analgesic) is especially recommended for treatment of infections and inflammations, to prevent formation of kidney stones and to help remove urinary gravel. This therapy is safe at a reasonable price and does not show drug-related side-effects. PMID: 15638071