Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Goldenrod - Summer's Last Sun

Green Witch's Herbal Wisdom

Goldenrod – Summer’s Last Sun

Goldenrod is the last burst of sun in the summer, as summer turns to fall and leaves fall from tress and nature begins her slow retreat inward.

Goldenrod – Botanical name Solidago – sol meaning sun - is quite appropriately named. We see her by the roadsides and often think of her as a common weed. Some who suffer from allergies mistake her as a culprit, but that’s her companion ragweed. She’s insect, not wind pollinated like ragweed who brings so much suffering to those with allergies and hayfever.

This summer I made a tincture of goldenrod’s flowering tops after listening to herbalist Rosemary Gladstar speak at the Northeastern Women’s Herbal Conference about goldenrod being a remedy for SAD (seasonal affective disorder). My original intention for the tincture was to support a friend’s daughter who was living in Scotland and was struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder during her the long dark rainy days in Edinburgh.

Today, I decanted the tincture I had made in vodka and sat with goldenrod while she spoke to me and told me about her healing properties. The tincture came out yellow and had a sunny sweet taste to it, true to her name.

I mused back on my journey in the hills of Vermont, harvesting this beautiful yellow weed. I was lucky enough to find an entire field of nothing but goldenrod. In this field, I noticed a surprisingly large percentage of the plants had a bulbous mass in the stem where it looked like the plant had swallowed something, sort of like a snake after eating a mouse or rabbit – bulging grotesquely at the sides of what would normally be a svelt and slender body. Goldenrod, I discovered, after dissecting this bulbous mass on her stem and doing my own research, was often host to many beneficial insects including wasps that lay eggs in her stem, giving them the bulbous, goiter-like appearance. The wasps then feed on some of the more harmful insects like mites that may be a nuisance to the plant. Smart plant ;) No wonder goldenrod makes space for them!

In speaking with goldenrod this afternoon as I decanted her, she was very chatty and was thrilled she was being put to use as most people don’t know about all her powerful healing properties. Goldenrod enjoys being used as an infusion or tincture. She’s a blood cleaner and circulatory enhancer. Goldenrod infusions and tinctures support the kidneys in flushing toxins from the body and tonify and support the natural balance and function of a healthy bladder. A bit obvious, but I remember this by her yellow flowers that are the color of urine when I haven’t been drinking enough water. She balances the bladder bringing on urination if there is trouble urinating and balancing excessive urination by holding the blueprint for a healthy bladder. She can also be taken when there is an infection in the bladder or kidneys to help clear and realign our natural flow and healthy inner watery balance.

Goldenrod’s flowers make a beautiful natural dye and you can use her dried flowers and foliage in sachets in your linen closets and dresser drawers to keep clothes smelling fresh. You can also smoke her dried herb to give a deep rushing opening to the heart and lungs – think flinging open shutters on a dank dusty attic and welcoming in warmth and sun light. In her fresh state she makes a wonderful bouquet to brighten any heart and home.

UPDATE one month later....

As an herbalist there's always that incredulous part of me that asks "Does this really work? Really??" Over the holidays, like many, I sank into a depression, the long dark days, the over extended holiday schedule, the absence of daylight and the mugginess in New York without the invigorating cold behind it. Goldenrod kept calling to me form the corner of my apartment and I kept waving my hands at her and saying I didn't need her I'd get to her later. Finally after a few days of moping lethargy I finally picked her up and took a dropper full. Is this really going to work, I thought unscrewing the cap to the tincture. I put a dropper full of tincture on my tongue and swallowed and it was literally like taking a mouth full of sunshine into my body. My entire demeanor head to toe changed. I thanked Goldenrod, mostly for her patience and not telling me I told you so after she had been calling to me for two weeks.

As we come up on the holidays and darker days, call on goldenrod as an ally. She's so excited to be here with you. Can't find goldenrod in your health food store? Drop me a line - sensualshaman@gmail.com I have a few extra tinctures available for $11 each.

Green Witch Blessings!