Once spotted in nature, you cannot un-see Golden Rod. Often appearing in large drifts, the brilliant yellow flowers are particularly eye catching.
Golden Rod is an introduced species in New South Wales which makes harvesting a win - win situation - great for the environment, great for the herbalist!! It is often found in abandoned pastures and grasslands or on weedy roadsides. The stems are 1/2 - 2 metres tall and are topped with the showy golden flower heads.
The two body systems where Golden Rod is most commonly applied are the urinary and respiratory.
The cooling anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and astringent qualities find use in similar conditions of inflammation and infection within both systems.
In the urinary tract, nephritis and conditions of damp heat (urinary infections) both respond well to Golden Rod. Golden Rod clears kidney deficiency and stagnation which may present as oedema or chronic skin conditions due to impaired renal detoxification.
Golden Rod is one of the few herbal kidney trophorestoratives that I am aware of.
Golden Rods toning and astringent actions find use in the respiratory tract for clearing nasal discharge and sinus congestion and is a favoured remedy for acute and chronic sinusitis and acute allergic rhinitis. I was taught many years ago that it is a specific remedy for Golden Staph infections in the upper respiratory tract, and that bright yellow mucous indicates the need for this herb. I love to infuse the flower heads in raw, local honey and use this as an elixir base for formulas for allergic rhinitis which is so prevalent in my local area. More on this elixir later.
Following this theme, Golden Rod may may also be indicated in inflammatory bowel conditions characterised by loose and mucousy stools. The aromatic principles in the flowering tops lead me to make an annual digestive carminitive, pairing fresh plant with whatever takes my fancy at the time - Fennel, Star Anise, Citrus Peel etc
It was however, a lesser known use of Golden Rod that made me fall completely in love with this extrovert plant. I would love to be able to credit the source of the following information but am unable to recall where I first read of Golden Rods ability to resolve blood stagnation, in a similar way to Arnica. But unlike Arnica, it is a bioregionally accessible and abundant weedy species. A little bit of digging reveals that Culpepper spoke of Golden Rod as a "sovereign wound herb" for "inward bruising" and for "inward and outward hurts".
One year, having some excess flower heads which I had dried, I infused them in olive oil and made a trial batch of a joint and muscle balm. To this day, that formula is my top selling product and is relied upon by a local physiotherapist, massage therapist and acupuncturist for conditions of stiff and painful joints and especially muscular pain.
Since opening to the lesser known gifts of Golden Rod, I have also become aware of an emotional picture that may indicate the need for Golden Rod.
Once you have inhaled the melliferous scent of the fresh flowers, or the deeply aromatic fresh plant tincture, it should come as no surprise that Golden Rod offers us gifts to improve mood and a sense of wellbeing.
And here is the hot/cold paradox of Golden Rod. The elixir made from the flowering top is a timely gift for some experiencing mild to moderate depression with coldness. This may present similar to Seasonal Affective Disorder in some areas where there is low temperatures and little sunlight for several months of the year. In my region, I see it more for exhaustion and fatigue, especially where this depletion and stagnation is a result of disappointment or frustration from trying to please others. In these cases the elixir may be used as a simple, or combined with Ginger for more warmth and Rose for the heart.
Botanical Name: Solidago altissima syn Solidago canadensis
Part Used: Flowering tops
Preparations: infusion, tincture, oil, elixir
Qualities: astringent, stimulating, decongesting, restoring, cooling, warming (I know right??)
© The Village Herbalist 2023