Wild Edible Wednesday!
Happy Wednesday farm friends! Yes, I am back, at less than 100%, but time heals all wounds. For the record, the pig that bit me was not dangerous, nor was he attacking me. I was simply in the way and he did not appreciate the pressure I was putting on him to load into the trailer. Perhaps he knew he was headed to freezer camp? More likely, he was squaring off with another intact boar through the fence and the testosterone was running high. Either way, I thank God I had on jeans and boots, and that the pig was NOT a violent or aggressive breed. I was lucky to limp away with 24 + 3 stitches and several months of numbness as the nerves regrow in my leg. Lesson learned.
Now, with that out of the way, let's talk about our wild edible!
Scientific name: Solidago canadensis (Solidago is Latin for "to make whole or heal")
Be honest now, how many of you immediately thought "OH NO! Stay away from that it makes your allergies go crazy this time of year!"
What if I told you that you were wrong? Would you believe me? Let me offer some proof.
Goldenrod blooms at the same time of year as ragweed, one of the greatest culprits of late summer and fall allergies. Ragweed distributes is pollen in the air every time the wind blows, and does so with vigor. In fact, each ragweed plant can produce millions of grains of pollen, almost too small for the human eye to see. Whereas Goldenrod pollen is too large to be distributed by wind, and can only be distributed a few at a time by insects. FYI: Goldenrod supports over one hundred species of caterpillars, making it a useful plant for welcoming local butterfly populations, including Monarch butterflies. It also attracts garden beneficials, such as praying mantises, ladybugs, assassin bugs, damsel bugs, syrphid flies, and parasitic wasps. So as a pollinator attractor, there are few plants that can compare, especially late in the season when the insects need nourishment the most.
The picture below shows the flowers of a common ragweed. Typically, these get buried in and amongst the tall stately stems of the Goldenrod plants, and go virtually undetected. While some varieties of ragweed can grow to 36" in height, most are mush smaller and grow in dense clumps.
Here is another interesting fact: Goldenrod and ragweed grow at the same time because Goldenrod is an actual antidote to the allergies that ragweed causes! How amazing is that? More on that later.
So let's talk about the health benefits of our new found and often misunderstood friend, Goldenrod. As stated above, the Latin name actually means "whole or heal". The benefits of this pretty plant are almost too many to list, so let's stick with the major ones: Urinary tract infections, allergies/bronchial congestion, and joint inflammation. While tinctures are considered the most beneficial, Goldenrod can also be used to make tea, vinegar, infused honey, syrup, mead, elixir, cordial, and homemade soda. Only the flowers and leaves are used and can be used fresh or dried easily by hanging them, dehydrating, or freeze drying. It can also be purchased as an over the counter supplement in either power or pill form. (Which seems a little silly considering how prolific it is.)
Urinary tract infections and kidney stones: With it's astringent and antiseptic properties, Goldenrod has been used for centuries in the treatment of both these ailments, and is especially helpful in the prevention of kidney stones.
Healthline.com/nutrition/goldenrod stated and I quote: "Additionally, test-tube studies indicate that goldenrod extract may help with overactive bladder, or the frequent feeling of needing to urinate. It may also decrease painful spasms of the urinary tract (21Trusted Source). When 512 people with chronic overactive bladder took 425 mg of dry goldenrod extract 3 times daily, 96% saw improvement in the urgency to urinate and painful urination. It’s uncertain how long they took the extract before they noticed benefits (22). Lastly, the EMA notes that goldenrod increases the flow of urine. Its diuretic effect may help flush out potentially harmful bacteria and support kidney health (19). Therefore, it’s generally advised to drink plenty of water when taking the herb. While promising, more human studies are needed to confirm the benefits of goldenrod for urinary health. SUMMARY Preliminary evidence suggests that goldenrod may enhance conventional medical treatments for urinary issues, including overactive bladder and urinary tract infections. However, more research is needed." Now, granted, this is a medical journal and they cannot come right out and say what we all know to be true, but they certainly alluded strongly to it!
Allergies/Bronchial congestion: This is where the benefits of tincture comes in. (For information on how to make a tincture, see recipe below) A natural antiseptic and expectorant, Goldenrod contains quercitin and rutin, which are natural antihistamines. This combination calms runny eyes and noses, and sneezing triggered by summer and fall allergies. If a tincture is not available, a tea works too (albeit a little slower), especially when brewed and cooled. If combined with sage, it can be used for treating sore throats, and helps rid the body of respiratory congestion.
Joint pain: As an anti-inflammatory, Goldenrod is hard to beat. The Native Americans used it extensively to treat wounds, burns, and arthritis. Early Europeans used it for battle wounds, rheumatism, edema, and sinus pressure. This was typically drank as a tea for inflammation. Interestingly, many cultures use Goldenrod poultices, as it is known to stop bleeding, giving it the common name "woundwort".
How to make a Goldenrod tincture:
1 oz goldenrod (dried)
5 fl oz vodka (80 proof or higher)
1 glass jar (like a mason jar) with lid
Weigh out 1 ounce of dried goldenrod and 5 fl oz vodka.
In a clean glass mason jar, add measured dried herb. Pour over the vodka, being sure that all of the dried herb is covered with vodka. If you need to, you can crush the herb up to make it fit under the liquid. Cap the jar tightly, label, and place in a dark cabinet or pantry for 4 to 6 weeks.
Once the tincture is ready, pour out the vodka through a muslin cloth and strainer. Pour the tincture into an amber or dark glass bottle with an eye dropper top. Cap tightly, label, and store in a pantry or cabinet away from direct sunlight. Dosage: 3ml two - four times daily between meals. Use as needed.
For Goldenrod tea:
1/2 tbsp dried herb to 1 cup hot water. Let steep 10-15 minutes for maximum benefit.
How easy is Goldenrod to store? This easy.
So farm friends, I hope this cleared up some mis-information about Goldenrod, and added to your base knowledge of wild edibles. Before I go, I will give another easy at-home remedy for cold and flu season using Goldenrod...Honey! Simply pack a jar with fresh flowers and leaves, then cover with your favorite local raw honey. Every day for 2 weeks, tip the jar upside down a few times to mix. After 2 weeks, you can continue letting the flowers infuse, or if you are in a hurry, strain the plant matter out of the honey using a mesh strainer. Place the honey in a clean jar and label. Add a tsp of Goldenrod honey to your favorite warm beverage and reap the extra benefits!
As always, I'm not a doctor or an herbalist. If you are on diuretics or kidney meds do NOT use Goldenrod in any form without consulting your doctor.
Happy farming and God bless!