Fall has always been my favorite season, yet this fall, I seem to feel it's only a loud alarm bell for the end of such a beautiful summer - a summer full of nature #hikes and creek stomping as an escape from this #pandemic. As the days shorten and the fall colors arrive, I do sense a bit of anxiety about it, although I do enjoy winter typically - the warm soups, the holiday celebrations, even the white snow. I am concerned about how our immune systems will handle the colder weather since many of us remained isolated and our immune systems weren't challenged as we are typically more accustomed in preparation for the illnesses common to the colder weather. I am also concerned about how I will cope with the #isolation without having the ability to really dig in the dirt and spend hours outside hiking the woods or swimming in the lake.
This past week, I took a 3.5 mile hike with my two littlest children and then a near-7 mile hike by myself, each at Eagle Creek. Along my paths, I've loved all the #goldenrod in bloom. Admittedly, in my yard, this has been a weed as it sends out many root runners and spreads widely, but in the woods, it is quite glorious! North America is covered with this plant from Florida to New Hampshire and as far west as Texas. It also blooms in South America, Europe and Asia. It is often found along roadsides and in open fields. Its yellow flowers are generally blooming in August and September.
Bees Love Goldenrod Blooms
I always appreciate those blooms which #bees swarm - our most important creature on Planet Earth. They are drawn to the sticky pollen of the goldenrod flower, but interestingly, this plant's pollen is not the cause of seasonal allergies as it sticks to its insect pollinators but doesn't travel through the air as the pollen of more irritating plants, such as #ragweed. There are many varieties (upwards of 130 as it crossbreeds with other plants) and I hope to see if I can identify a few this fall. The one in the photo above I found on the orange trail at Eagle Creek just last weekend. The more medicinal varieties are Solidago canadensis and S. odora. These two are also said to be the most tasty, but all species of goldenrod are safe and beneficial and can be used to help the immune system as we prepare for winter.
Goldenrod has been used on the skin to heal wounds, and it has been used as a diuretic to help move excess water out of the body. Historically, goldenrod has 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. Evidence thus far supports goldenrod as beneficial as an anti-inflammatory, for relieving muscle spasms, and for fighting infections and lower blood pressure. It does seem to act like a diuretic, and is used in Europe to treat urinary tract infections and to prevent kidney stones.
Goldenrod Remedies are Easy to Make
Any variety of goldenrods can be harvested by cutting off the top third of the plant in full flower on a sunny fall day. You may also choose to pull the entire plant, roots and all, in the late #autumn or early winter. Bundle these stalks together, two to three stalks at a time, and hang them upside down to dry in a cool, shady room. I typically hang my plants in the pantry. When they are dry sufficiently so that they snap crisply, then transition them to a brown paper bag for storage. If drying roots, rinse off the dirt, then cut away all the stalks, leaves, and dead flowers. Hang these on racks and put them in a warm place to dry until brittle. Store in glass jars.
One or two large handfuls of the crushed leaves and flowers, steeped in a quart of boiling water for thirty minutes, makes a tea which can be drank hot, with honey for sweetness. This tea can help boost the immune system and assist with pollen allergies. It can also be helpful for fevers, sore throats, coughs, colds, and the flu. Mothers have given it to their littles for colic and adults have used it for gas. Dried mint and yarrow are also additions that add to the taste, and offer their own benefits. The roots can be used in brews or decocted in boiling water, or even powdered or added to flowers to create an ointment of wounds and sore joints.
If goldenrod is desired, useful for improving mineral imbalance, helping prevent kidney stones, eliminating flatulence, and improving immune function, simply chop the goldenrod coarsely and fill a jar with the chopped flowers, leaves, stalks and roots if you have them. Fill the jar to the top with room-temperature, pasteurized, apple cider vinegar. Cap it tightly with a plastic lid (not metal). Label and date. Your goldenrod vinegar will be ready in about six weeks.
If tincture is your desire, again, chop the goldenrod coarsely, fill the jar with chopped flowers, leaves, stalks, and roots if you have them, then add 100 percent proof vodka, filling the jar to the very top. Cap tightly and label. The tincture will also be ready in about six weeks and can be used as an anti-inflammatory, sweat-inducing cold cure, and an astringent digestive aid. Medical herbalists use large doses (up to 4 dropperfuls at a time) of golden rod tincture several times daily to treat kidney problems - including nephritis, hemorrhage, kidney stones, and inability to void - and prostate problems, including frequent urination.
Going on a Goldenrod Hunt
Members can join me on a goldenrod hunt this next week (see members wellness group) so that we can make our own tinctures into the winter. If you collect your own or create your own medicinal remedies, please share pictures!