Goldenrod, the autumnal firework display.
Time is marked in many ways. For some, it's through the crossing-off of the calendar days. For others, it's through noticing homelife changes like the bustle of the back-to-school season. Our preferred methods of keeping track of our days speak a lot about where we are in life. Currently, most of my days are spent in the dirt watching the waning nature of our sunlit hours. On a daily basis, I'll look at many of the same plants watching them grow and change, or I'll look at the angle of the sun to see what plants are getting more sun or more shade. Noticing minute changes is part of the job description. Lately, I've noticed an increased brilliancy along the back roads of Hanover County. It's as if a golden thread has been woven into the tapestry of the local landscape all because the native Goldenrod plant has begun to bloom. Luckily, native pollinators are hard to fence in and you may have even noticed some of these perennials lining up along the grassy hills off of I-64. We're very fortunate to have such beautiful native plants to usher us beyond the height of the summer heat and into the first signs of autumn.
But did you know that these tiny golden flowers that look as though they're tumbling out of the woods are actually filled with medicine? The plant itself is the perfect shape to provide all the local pollinators with ample food to keep them buzzing around our fields throughout the fall. These flowy wands of golden yellow are lined with thousands of tiny flowers and decorate our landscapes with piney-scented resinous leaves. For medicinal purposes, both the flowers and the leaves may be used. Traditionally, goldenrod has been used in Native medicinal practices both topically and internally for a myriad of health benefits including digestive aid, allergy relief, toothaches, burns, wounds, etc. Notably, goldenrod contains more antioxidant potential than green tea! It's because of this high concentration of flavonoid antioxidants that goldenrod is a strong anti-inflammatory agent.
Goldenrod has been found to severely reduce arthritis flareups. In fact, in human studies, a goldenrod extract was found to be equally effective as aspirin for reducing back pain and knee arthritis. This was thought to be due to goldenrod's high levels of a flavonoid called quercetin. Quercetin is most famously known for its ability to help provide relief for allergy sufferers. Anecdotally, goldenrod has been found to be highly effective as a decongestant, alleviating symptoms of allergies, sinusitis, and the flu. It can be used as an ingredient in an herbal tea or tincture or could be combined with sage to create an excellent gargle for sore throats.
In addition to its strong anti-inflammatory benefits, goldenrod is known for its supportive role in urinary system health. In conjunction with other herbs like juniper berry, goldenrod has been found to help ward off UTIs. It has traditionally been used as a diuretic, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory agent to help combat such infections. In a study that contained a sample size of 512 individuals with chronic overactive bladder, 425 mg of goldenrod extract was taken 3 times daily. This study showed that 96% of test subjects saw an improvement in the urgency to urinate. Additionally, the European Medicines Agency has found that goldenrod's diuretic effect may help flush out potentially harmful bacterial agents and support kidney health.
Topically, goldenrod has been used in Native medicine to treat wounds. Ground up into a poultice or extracted into a wash, goldenrod has been found to help heal wounds, burns, and sores, both new and longstanding. It's also been used as a toothache remedy.
Last, but not at all least, goldenrod can be used internally as a digestive remedy. It's energetically both warming and drying (which is partially why it's so helpful with sinus issues) so it is a keen carminative and digestive stimulant. It's also been used to help mitigate symptoms of digestive upset like diarrhea.
I love watching the changing landscape of our own backyard. There's something so beautiful about the fact that nature gives you exactly what you need exactly when you need it. Plants are medicine! Goldenrod is just starting to bloom now so see if you notice it on your next drive out of town. It's a little gift from nature.