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Goldenrod: to Make Whole

Herbal Writing & Recipes

For educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Goldenrod: to Make Whole

Sarah Sorci

As a Spanish language student, I assumed that Goldenrod's botanical name (Solidago spp.) had something to do with the root sol-- the Spanish word for sun. If you live in a climate that's anything like western NY, you have enjoyed the yellow autumn blossoms of this genus along roadsides and other "edge" places. Quite sunny, indeed. However, the word actually comes from the latin soldago or soldare which means “to strengthen or make whole." This name kindly nudges us towards the plants' medicinal properties. 

Perhaps those yellow blossoms can help us remember a body system goldenrod brilliantly supports: the urinary tract. (Well, now you'll never forget.) According to David Hoffman's Medical Herbalism, "As an anti-inflammatory urinary tract antiseptic, goldenrod may be helpful with cystitis, urethritis, and similar conditions affecting this system" (585). Lab studies demonstrate inhibitory effects on human fungal pathogens, including Candida and Cryptococcus spp. It has been shown to have "moderate" antibacterial effects as well (Braun, 489). The plant is commonly used in Europe to treat bladder and lower urinary tract infections, and to prevent or treat kidney stones. These uses have been studied and approved by the European Scientific Cooperative on Phytomedicine (Braun, 489). 

According to one study, patients utilizing a catheter were 40% less likely to experience an infection if taking an herbal blend including goldenrod, cranberry, birch, and Orthosiphon. A second study examined patients who were already experiencing infection. Those who took this herbal blend in tandem with antibiotics were 2.5 times less likely to experience a recurrent infection (Braun, 489).

Like dandelion, goldenrod is an effective diuretic without significantly disrupting electrolyte levels in the body. Due to this remarkable property, many practitioners consider these herbs safer than pharmaceutical diuretics (Braun, 488). 

Goldenrod has less "sunny" uses as well. According to Hoffman, "Goldenrod is perhaps the first to consider in upper respiratory [congestion and inflammation], whether acute or chronic. This plant may also be used in combination with other herbs to treat influenza" (585). This is partly due to the plant's astringent, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anticatarrhal (mucus-busting) properties. These properties make goldenrod a popular herb for seasonal allergy support as well. Though goldenrod often gets blamed for autumn allergies, its pollen is not wind-pollinated. It’s more subtle neighbor, ragweed, is often the culprit. Luckily, goldenrod is ready to harvest around the time that ragweed causes some of us discomfort.

I enjoy a tea from the fresh or dried goldenrod flowers and leaves; any goldenrod species can be used. When supporting the urinary tract, or trying to break up congestion, teas are a great way to enhance goldenrod’s benefits. Some opt for a tincture due to the plant's subtle bitterness. Make your own tincture using these instructions. Talk to your doctor before combining goldenrod with any diuretic or blood pressure medication.
 
Sources:
1.) Braun, Lesley and Marc Cohen. Herbs and Natural Supplements, Vol. 2: An Evidence-Based Guide. Elsevier: 2015. pp. 488-491. 
2.) Hoffman, David. Medical Herbalism. Rochester, 2003. pg. 585.