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The Healing Potential of Goldenrod

Lydia is a student of herbalism and alternative healing modalities. She is a DIY enthusiast who is passionate about sustainable living.

Since goldenrod is easily recognizable it is a good place for novice foragers to start.

Since goldenrod is easily recognizable it is a good place for novice foragers to start.

A Useful Plant With a Bad Reputation

Goldenrod is a perennial with a bad reputation. Some consider it a weed and blame their hay fever on it. Ragweed, which releases its obnoxious pollen at the time goldenrod is in bloom, is generally the culprit. The pollen goldenrod produces is large and heavy. It is much less likely to be an allergen.

More than 50 species of goldenrod exist in North America and there are many other varieties in Europe. You will find it growing in dry to damp soil. The only soil it isn't too fond of is the acidic type. It has a variety of alternative names including Aaron's rod, blue mountain tea, and woundwort. Woundwort is a name attesting to its potent powers as an astringent.

Foraging for Goldenrod

Wildcrafting is about making use of what other people might classify as weeds. Some of us don't have adequate space for an herb garden. Taking up wildcrafting or foraging is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors and connect to nature. Goldenrod does have prolific growth, so there is generally plenty of it available for harvest. Since it is easy to identify it is a great plant for novice foragers. You don't have to worry about picking the wrong plant.

Growing Goldenrod

If you don't feel comfortable foraging, you can grow goldenrod right in your garden. Its value as a garden plant has been increasing. Currently, there 8 varieties cultivated and sold. You will find it has various uses. It can be made into cosmetics, and food, used as a dye, and taken medicinally. If you have plenty of it growing on your property you may want to make use of it.

If you grow goldenrod in your garden you should be cautious. Their rhizomes spread like wildfire as well as exude an allelopathic compound that inhibits the growth of other plants around them. They can quickly take over your entire flower bed. However, Solidago odora is the least aggressive of goldenrod varieties.

Many blame goldenrod for their hay fever when ragweed is the real culprit.

Many blame goldenrod for their hay fever when ragweed is the real culprit.

Using Goldenrod Medicinally

Goldenrod is a safe plant to use medicinally. It is a valuable source of antioxidants. What is an antioxidant? It is a general term for any vitamins or minerals that fight molecules called free radicals that cause cellular damage. Consuming antioxidants is good for our overall health. Goldenrod contains more antioxidants than green tea, so you may want to consider switching up.

Since goldenrod is rich in polyphenols, it is currently being studied for various health care benefits. Studies have been inquiring into its benefits as a treatment for obesity, and cancer, as well as reducing skin aging. Studies have also shown that goldenrod may help reduce cholesterol.

Traditional Herbal Uses of Goldenrod

Goldenrod is often used for allergies. Allergies are a body's reaction to pollen. Our immune system reacts to pollen as if it is a harmful substance that it needs to get rid of. Our inflammatory system kicks in and we start sneezing. Our throats tighten up. It is highly unpleasant and many of us take over-the-counter antihistamines to prevent these responses. With all pharmaceuticals, there are going to be side effects. Some people are turning to goldenrod tea. It isn't a cure, but many feel that it helps reduce symptoms. You can combine goldenrod with other anti-inflammatory herbs like nettles and elderflower in a tea to help with seasonal allergies.

It is used for kidney and urinary problems. It is said that goldenrod helps dissolve kidney stones which sounds like a great reason to drink it. I have never had a kidney stone in my life, but I have heard from those who have had them that is pretty painful to pass. It is also used as a diuretic.

It boosts the immune system and helps regulate mucus. This makes it great for treating colds, asthma, and other respiratory woes.

Wound healing is one of the most famous medicinal uses for goldenrod. This is why one of its alternative names is woundwort.

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Consuming Goldenrod as a Food

One of the best ways to get our natural medicine is as food. Goldenrod is edible. In the spring you can eat the stem as a vegetable when they first come up as shoots. They have a flavor similar to asparagus and can be stir-fried in a wok. The leaves are also perfectly edible. You may want to try them in a soup or salad.

Online you can find all kinds of interesting recipes. One of the most intriguing ones I found was goldenrod cornbread. This recipe for Goldenrod and Pear Cordial also sounds absolutely delicious. It will definitely be one to try out in the future.

The easiest way of using goldenrod is as an herbal tea.

The easiest way of using goldenrod is as an herbal tea.

Making Goldenrod Tea

The flavor of the tea will vary depending on the variety you are using, but some compare it to black tea. To brew up your own pot you use the leaves and flowers to make an infusion.

It is best to harvest goldenrod when the flowers are just starting to bud. If the flowers have already developed on the plant they will turn into fluff. New flowers will form at the leaf nodes where you made your cut on the plant.

To dry any goldenrod you have foraged you would just tie them together in bunches. Leave them hanging in a place free of sunlight until they are completely dry. Discard the stems and put the leaves and flowers in an airtight jar. Prepare your tea as you would any loose leave herbal tea. You would use about 1 tablespoon of the dried herb per cup of hot water.

The most commonly found goldenrod in North America is Solidago canadensis, but the variety with the preferred flavor is Solidago odora. You can also combine your goldenrod with other herbs. Some good choices would be a lemon balm, lemon verbena, chamomile, and peppermint.

I like combining goldenrod with my own dream tea blend. I combine it with hops, peppermint, and lavender. Then I add a little bit of lime juice and sweeten it with maple syrup.

You can infuse goldenrod in olive oil.

You can infuse goldenrod in olive oil.

Making Goldenrod Oil

You can infuse olive oil with goldenrod. This is best done with the dried herb. Infusing fresh herbs in oil is a trickier process as it can easily turn on you. Use about 1 cup of goldenrod. Put it in a large mason jar. Make sure to completely cover all your plant material with oil. Seal the mason jar and store it in a cool, dark place. Shake the jar once a day. Letting it infuse for 6 weeks will give you a nice, strong oil. Then you can strain it and store the oil in an amber-colored bottle.

An easy topical ointment can with goldenrod oil combining it with melting bee wax in a double boiler.

An easy topical ointment can with goldenrod oil combining it with melting bee wax in a double boiler.

Making a Topical Remedy

Making a topical remedy isn't as challenging as it sounds. All you need to do is combine bee wax with your goldenrod-infused oil. You do this by melting the bee wax in a double boiler along with the oil. You would combine 1 cup of oil with about 1/8 to 1/4 of beeswax. The more beeswax you use, the firmer the texture will be. After the mixture has cooled a little you can add some vitamin E or essential oil. Vitamin E will help extend the shelf life. The topical remedy can be used for treating ailments like eczema, injuries, and any other skin conditions.

Monarchs love the nectar goldenrod produces.

Monarchs love the nectar goldenrod produces.

Valuable to Wildlife

Goldenrod isn't just useful for humans. There are many forms of wildlife that benefit from its growth. Monarch butterflies love goldenrod. For them, it is a valuable source of nectar. The eastern goldfinch and swamp sparrow also love eating the seeds. Since goldenrod blooms in the late summer and throughout autumn it is an important food source for pollinators ar this time of the year.

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