Because goldenrod has an unusual ability to crossbreed with other plants, there are at least 130 species of goldenrod in the United States alone. This herb is native to Europe and has spread to Asia, the Azores, and both North and South America.
European goldenrod is a perennial often found along roadsides and in open fields with single woody stems that grow to heights of 3 to 7 feet. Its yellow flowers, which generally appear in August and September, are only about 1/4 inch wide but come in large clusters. Leaves alternate between toothed and smooth edges. When bruised, the herb smells like Wild Carrot.
Goldenrod is often blamed for seasonal allergies, but it is another plant -- ragweed, which blooms at the same time -- that is usually responsible for allergic reactions.
Goldenrod as an Herb for Medicinal Uses
Goldenrod is an ingredient in the Swiss Vulnerary, faltrank. It is astringent and diuretic and efficacious for stone in the bladder. It is recorded that in 1788 a boy of ten, after taking the infusion for some months, passed quantities of gravel, fifteen large stones weighing up to 1-1/4 ounce, and fifty over the size of a pea. It allays sickness due to weak digestion.
Fragrant leaved Goldenrod of the United States is used as an astringent in dysentery and ulceration of the intestines. The essence has been used as a diuretic for infants, as a local application in headache, and for flatulence and vomiting. The flowers are aperient, tonic, and astringent, and their infusion is beneficial in gravel, urinary obstructions, and simple dropsy.
The tea made from the leaves of the Goldenrod promotes sweating, and treats gas and intestinal problems, as well as hay fever. Tea made from the flowers is used to treat colic, and is used as a douche to fight yeast infections. A lotion made from the flowers is used to treat insect bites and stings.
Recommended adult doses are as follows:
- Tea: Place 2 to 3 teaspoons of dried herb in one cup of hot water and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and drink 3 times daily.
- Gargle: Make the tea described above, and gargle 3 times daily.
- Fluid extract (1:1) in 25 percent ethanol: Take 0.5 to 2 mL, 2 to 3 times daily.
- Tincture (1:5) in 45 percent ethanol: Take 2 to 4 mL, 2 to 3 times daily.
Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day when taking this herb.
Culinary Uses of Goldenrod
Goldenrod's leaves can be cooked like spinach or added to soups, stews or casseroles.
The blossoms can be tossed directly into a salad and are worth picking for a little chew when you come across them in the great, unsprayed, outdoors.
The dried leaves and blossoms make a very nice tasting tea - especially when sweetened with a little honey. Speaking of honey, Goldenrod produces a very dark, strong tasting honey when bees combine it with other nectars, but when they have access to nothing but Goldenrod, they will yield a very white colored, spicy tasting honey that is much sought after by honey connoisseurs.
Goldenrod is generally safe to use, with a slight possibility of allergic reaction.
Do not take goldenrod if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have heart or kidney disease.
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