Late each summer we are greeted by a profusion of Goldenrod’s gloriously radiant and cheerful yellow blooms decorating our views in meadows, fields and roadsides. Jovial golden blossoms adorn the sturdy stalks that will never appear alone; vast colonies of this herbal ally will prodigiously populate pastures and paddocks if given half a chance. There are a dizzying variety of species of Solidago; some sources estimate that there are over eighty, while more conservative approximations are about half that figure. Nonetheless, it is notoriously difficult to differentiate members of the genus and although most are medicinal, the variety that is usually referred to in herbalism is S. canadensis.
Because her bloom-time is shared with the invisible green flowers of ragweed, poor Goldenrod gets blamed for seasonal allergies, but this is simply untrue. Ragweed has tiny pollen grains that are carried by the wind, grains that are small enough to irritate and inflame sinus tissues; Goldenrod sports a small amount of sticky, large-grained pollen that are exclusively picked up by bees and other pollinating insects, and do not cause allergy symptoms. The irony is that Goldenrod is in fact a helpful remedy for sinusitis and chronic hay fever.
The leaves and flowers are the most helpful part of the plant to use when treating upper-body imbalances such as mouth abscesses, sore throat, scrofula, nasal congestion, cough or asthma; a refreshing tea or a tincture will do the job nicely. The homeopathic dose is effective when treating seasonal allergies or sensitivity to dander –especially feline. The roots of Solidago taken as a decoction or in tincture form are more appropriate to use when treating lower-body or deep-seated imbalances, such as gout, diarrhea, menstrual troubles and kidney or bladder problems. Famed herbalist Nicolas Culpepper wrote, “The decoction also helps to fasten the teeth that are loose in the gums.” This is of particular interest to me because according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Kidneys rule the bones and teeth.
Goldenrod is particularly helpful for the Water Element, not only for its diuretic and cleansing effect on the bladder and kidneys; Solidago can help with infections and inflammation as well as stones and gravel. In addition to its heat clearing and soothing properties, Goldenrod is also fortifying; it can help to boost Kidney Qi, the physical energy that governs the organ’s functions, and enrich the Yin, a moistening, receptive, nourishing quality. Solidago can even somewhat nourish the precious “Essence” or “Jing” -the very foundation from which we grow and thrive- that is stored energetically within the Kidneys.
We inherit our Essence from our parents (ultimately all of our ancestors), and we are born with a fixed amount. I like to call this Kidney Essence a “trust fund;” one could spend carefully, budget wisely and save for a rainy day in order to make even a meager inheritance last a long time. Some may be privileged enough to have inherited great genetic riches, but it is quite easy to squander a fortune!
For our body’s daily requirements we utilize energy (Qi) that we receive through food, water, rest, air and relationships (obviously it’s imperative to seek the highest quality in all of these life-sustaining requirements). We use our Essence to fill in the gaps when we can’t rely upon our steady income of Qi and we may never be aware that we are using it. Our Kidneys also help to process our emotional toxins, so when we experience extreme stress, frayed nerves, repressed or excessive emotions and cease to take proper care of ourselves, our inheritance gets spent.
This is where the spiritual and energetic benefits of Goldenrod can help us the most. The name Solidago means “to make whole” which not only refers to her value as a wound healer, but also to her ability to facilitate our recovery from emotional trauma. Deep grief and poignant loss can leave us broken and scarred, in need of potent healing; Goldenrod can help us to mend these painful injuries to our heart and soul.
– John Muir
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou annointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over.
Goldenrod offers to fortify our reserves and assures us that we can hold on just a little longer. Herbalist Matthew Wood says that Goldenrod gives us determination so we may “endure to reach the goal.” The Ojibwe described the formation of the roots as gripping the earth in preparation for the difficult times ahead. The promise of rebirth, abundance and found riches is just ahead upon the Path… yes, that’s the one… The Path back to Your own Heart. Hang in there. You can do it.
I love to see it lean and nod;
I love to feel the grassy sod
Whose kindly breast will hold me last,
Whose patient arms will fold me fast!
Fold me from sunshine and from song,
Fold me from sorrow and from wrong:
Through gleaming gates of Goldenrod
I’ll pass into the rest of God.
Mary Clemmer – last stanza from “Goldenrod” (1883)
Please call 8 6 0 - 4 8 0 - 0 1 1 5 or email HerbaLisl@hotmail.com if you have any questions, would like to schedule an appointment or are interested in participating in classes or retreats.