A short film:
Over the last week we’ve been harvesting goldenrod and drying it for the future. It’s a natural anti-allergy plant, good for teas and tinctures. It also has multiple other uses.
Unfortunately, people get it mixed up with ragweed and end up blaming poor goldenrod for their seasonal allergies:
Goldenrod has been wrongly accused of causing hay fever simply because of its close association with the actual culprit: ragweed (Ambrosia spp.). Both plants flower at the same time, but ragweed has demure green flowers which are easily overlooked—so, by default or guilty association, goldenrod takes the heat. Common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) has lacy-looking leaves that are divided and the plant branches freely. In contrast, goldenrod often has an unbranched stem (until it flowers) and its leaves aren’t divided. (For the record, ragweed isn’t all bad. Despite its propensity to induce a hissy fit in allergy sufferers’ nasal passages, ragweed is a native plant that plays an important ecological role—housing and feeding many insects.)
Compared to the wind-born pollen of ragweed (the better to find your nostrils, my dear), sailing through the air with golden abandon, goldenrod is insect-pollinated and doesn’t release its pollen into the air; therefore, you need to stick your nose right in its face to induce any kind of histamine reaction.
Goldenrod is a useful herb beyond just being an antihistamine:
Historically, goldenrod (Solidago canadensis or Solidago virgaurea) has been used on the skin to heal wounds. It has also been used as a diuretic, meaning it helps the body get rid of excess fluid. The name solidago means “to make whole.”
Goldenrod has also been used to treat tuberculosis, diabetes, enlargement of the liver, gout, hemorrhoids, internal bleeding, asthma, and arthritis. In folk medicine, it is used as a mouth rinse to treat inflammation of the mouth and throat.
A few animal and test tube studies suggest goldenrod may help reduce inflammation, relieve muscle spasms, fight infections, and lower blood pressure. It does seem to act like a diuretic, and is used in Europe to treat urinary tract inflammation and to prevent or treat kidney stones. In fact, goldenrod is often found in teas to help “flush out” kidney stones and stop inflammatory diseases of the urinary tract.
We need to go harvest more, as time is running out for this season.