After the Boston Tea Party, the American Colonists boycotted English tea. They turned to goldenrod as a substitute, earning it the name liberty tea. It become so popular that the Americans started exporting it to China. While it’s no longer a popular tea, it’s still a wonderful medicinal herb that can help set you free from kidney problems, allergies, and fatigue associated with aging.
There are over 100 species of Solidago, the genus of goldenrod, which grow all over the United States. Probably all of them can be used medicinally, but two of the more popular species used medicinally are Solidago canadensis and S. virga-aurea. I found both of these and sixteen other species listed as having been medicinally used by Native Americans in Native American Ethnobotany by Daniel E. Moerman. So, let's take a look at some of the health benefits these plants provide.
For starters, goldenrod is one of my favorite kidney remedies. it is an important tonic for the kidneys, helping to increase renal blood flow and improving their filtration rate. It’s a great herb for kidney weakness, strengthening and improving urinary function. It’s one of the best remedies for nephritis and inflammation of the kidneys, and being a non-irritating diuretic it’s a good herb to include in formulas for kidney stones and inflammatory problems in the urinary system.
It is also helpful for improving urination in BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) but is best combined with other herbs for this problem. It can also help ease urinary incontinence. Matthew Wood says it’s good for situations with dark, scanty urine or clear copious urine. I frequently use goldenrod as a supporting herb in formulas for supporting the heart and reducing high blood pressure. It helps when there is fluid retention due to cardiac insufficiency and hypertension related to the kidneys.
Respiratory and Other Uses
Goldenrod can be used to counter allergies and relieve the running nose and red, itchy eyes accompanying them. It’s one of those "hair of the dog that bit you" remedies because it's also one of the plants whose pollen causes respiratory allergies in the fall, which is when it blooms. Ragweed is another one of these remedies. Its pollen causes allergies, while its leaves help to ease them. If you do have allergies to pollen, however, you should start slowly with drop doses just to make sure you tolerate the remedy.
When it comes to allergies, Matthew Wood says it's specific for allergies to cats. I've personally found it useful for all kinds of allergies in combination with equal parts of nettle leaf and eyebright. I make a sealed simmer extract of this blend and many people, including myself, have found it helpful for easing upper respiratory problems, including congestion, itchy nose and eyes, and red, irritated eyes, due to allergic reactions.
Taken as a warm tea, goldenrod can help induce perspiration to overcome colds and flu. The tea has been used as a gargle for laryngitis, pharyngitis, and sore throats. The dried root can be used to make poultices to relieve the itching and swelling of insect bites. It was also used traditionally to stop the flow of blood in wounds.
Emotional Uses for Goldenrod
Flower Essence Services produces a flower essence from Solidago californica. It’s used for people who are overly influenced by others, peers, family, and other groups to which they belong. They give in too easily to what others want and find it hard to maintain their integrity in group situations. It helps a person develop an individuality that isn’t lost in the group but allows them to remain part of the group, using their unique personality to be of benefit to the group.
I can kind of see the signatures of this in the nature of the goldenrod plant. Like other members of the Asteraceae family, the flower heads are composed of several ray flowers and disk flowers, so the individual flowers are part of a group. Then these flower heads grow in large inflorescences (clusters) as part of a larger group. Finally, the plants themselves tend to grow in patches like small communities. Thus, the individual flowers participate in larger groups and communities, while retaining their individual nature.
Matthew Wood also gives some additional emotional indications for the plant. He notes that it blooms in the late fall, suggesting it’s a remedy to aid the elderly who are experiencing reduced urinary function. He says it's helpful for people who feel worn out by life. It’s like they are standing on their last leg, and often feel so tired they wonder where the nearest chair is located, so they can sit down and rest. He says it acts like a “golden staff to lean on.” I've read that the Chinese include fatigue as one possible indication of poor urinary function, so the increasing fatigue and increasing inefficiency of the kidneys are probably interrelated.
So, if you find someone who has urinary problems and is also tired and struggling with how they fit in with the community, goldenrod is probably an ideal remedy. It's also a great remedy to try this spring if you have allergies, especially as part of the combination I mentioned earlier (goldenrod, nettles, and eyebright). You can buy the individual tinctures and combine them in equal parts or you can buy the bulk herbs and blend them to make a tea, tincture, or glycerite. In either case, I hope this liberty tea will liberate you from these health problems.