On closer inspection and after some research to correctly identify it I learnt that it was indeed Golden Rod. This was VERY exciting news.
You may have mistaken this plant as a yellow sea growing in golden swathes in abandoned pastures, grasslands, and along roadsides. Despite its cooling anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and astringent properties, Golden Rod is considered a weed by numerous city councils (all the best medicinal plants are pests, IMO).
Solidago altissima syn. canadensis - Canadian Golden Rod, Aaron’s rod, woundwort
Solidago virgaurea - European Golden Rod
Solidago odora - Blue mountain tea, sweet golden rod
CONSTITUENTS: Saponins, diterpenes (solidagolactones, elongatolides), phenolic glycosides, flavonoids (rutin, quercetin, hyperoside, astragalin), tannins, volatile oils.
ENERGETICS: Cool AND warm (depending on how you're using it), dry, aromatic
TASTE: Bitter, pungent, astringent
Primary: Anticatarrhal, anti-inflammatory (due to the flavonoid content), diuretic (promotes diuresis without loss of electrolytes)
Secondary: Diaphoretic, antiseptic, antimicrobial (due to the saponins), bitter.
With the above herbal actions, the two body systems where Golden Rod is most commonly reached for are the urinary and respiratory systems. Conditions of inflammation and infection within both systems find relief from this plant, especially where there is excess dampness and heat (think respiratory allergies and UTIs).
However, it also has some very wonderful applications for musculoskeletal sprains, and for those experiencing digestive upset and low mood which is so common in many of my clients with disordered eating. I'll outline my favourite applications below.
- Acute and chronic sinusitis. Anytime there is upper respiratory tract catarrh (nasal discharge and sinus congestion) and inflammation, Golden Rod is a herb to consider. It is specifically indicated for Golden Staph infections in the upper respiratory tract, which often gives itself away by the characteristic bright yellow mucous.
- Acute allergic rhinitis: That thin, clear mucous that runs out of the nose when your allergies are playing up? That responds well to the bitterness of Golden Rod. Being allergic to dust mites and cat fur (which both induce asthma for me), I am grateful for any help I can get in this department.
Bitters often work through the mucosal membranes and help to drain fluids out, which is perfect for conditions of dampness and heat such as histamine-mediated allergies.
- Kidney and bladder stones (supportive and preventive)
- Conditions of damp heat (nephritis, cystitis, and early on in urinary infections). Golden Rod relieves the pain and burning sensation associated with medically diagnosed cystitis.
It's incredible to find that many herbs that are used to treat allergies are also diuretic (e.g. Nettle leaf, Golden Rod, Elderflower). Golden Rod is one of the few kidney trophorestorative plants I'm aware of, clearing out the "snot" of the kidneys (bacteria and immune by-products that accumulate after an infection) and astringing the mucous membranes to prevent infection from travelling deeper into the tissue.
Canadian Golden Rod can be used topically in much the same way as Arnica (another pungent aromatic). It's fantastic for musculoskeletal sprains and strains especially when there is oedema (swelling). Nicholas Culpepper describes Golden Rod as a "sovereign wound herb" for "inward bruising" and for "inward and outward hurts". The infused oil can be manufactured into an effective joint and muscle balm.
With its cheery bright yellow flowers appearing in late Summer and Autumn, it should come as no surprise that medicine made from the flowering tops can also support folks experiencing mild to moderate depression, especially as the days become shorter. To me, depression has a damp, heavy, stuck or "congested" energetic quality, so again Golden Rod the way clearer can be used to lighten the mood. It's lofty golden flowering rods rocket up towards the sky, aspiring for sunnier, brighter days.
It can be used as a simple, but for clients with eating disorders I might combine it with Ginger for more warmth and digestive support, or with Motherwort for those who overextend and deplete themselves in caring for others or who aren't receiving the deep nourishment and care they crave and deserve.
Another lovely application for those with disordered eating and digestive issues is Golden Rod's capacity to help with flatulence, stomach pain, spasms and diarrhoea. It's astringent qualities lend itself in inflammatory bowel conditions characterised by loose and mucousy stools (excessively "damp" stools). The flower's aromatic scent gives clues to its carminative effects from volatile oils.
The flowering tops can be infused as a tea or made into a tincture to improve digestive. You can combine it with other carminatives and warming digestives such as Fennel, Ginger, Dill, Star Anise, or Citrus Peel.
Infusion of dried herb
0.5 – 2g in 150mL of boiled water
Maximum of 6 - 12 grams per day
Steep for 10 minutes to increase the flavonoid & tannin extraction, or overnight to create a nourishing herbal infusion. I like to gargle with the infusion before drinking it when I have upper respiratory tract catarrh and allergies.
Tincture 1:2 (45%)
20 – 40 mL/week
Take up to three times per day
Always consult a qualified herbalist or naturopath when using herbal medicines to ensure safety and suitability to your unique needs.