Common Names

Golden Rod, Woundwort, Aaron's Rod, Solidago
Botanical Name
Solidago virgaurea

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What is it?

The leaves and flowers of Golden Rod, a vigorously growing, upright and long lived herb that produces long stems with crowds of yellow flowers springing out along their lengths.




How has it been used?

Golden Rod's chief traditional reputation is for helping to generally cleanse the urinary tract and it is thought to help remove gravel from the kidneys.

Golden Rod has also been widely used for problems involving stuck mucus in the body and it has been widely recommended for chronic colds and sinus congestion, for bronchitis with infected phlegm, for thrush and for tonsillitis with phlegmy discharges.

Rudolph Weiss M.D writes 'Golden Rod is an old and familiar medicinal plant that is ascribed manifold therapeutic properties; the most important of which is its diuretic action which, when taken with plenty of fluids, gives it an antiphlogistic (anti-inflammatory) and spasmolytic (spasm relieving) effect on the smooth muscles'.

Grieves writes 'Golden Rod is astringent, diuretic and efficacious for stone in the bladder. It is recorded that in 1788 a boy of ten, after taking the infusion for some months, passed quantities of gravel, fifteen large stones weighing up to 1 1/4 oz, and fifty over the size of a pea. It allays sickness due to weak digestion'.


Science on Golden Rod

~ A strong diuretic effect (it increased the production of urine) was observed in healthy volunteers in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study with a single dose of Golden Rod; 100 drops or 4 mls of the tincture

~ In a clinical trial of patients with urinary tract inflammation 70% experienced complete disappearance of symptoms of pain, frequency and urgency with the use of Golden Rod tincture (Bruhwiler K et al: 4th International Congress on Phytotherapy, Munich, Sept 10-13, 1992: Abstract SL20)

~ A randomised, double-blind controlled clinical trial using Ash, Poplar bark and Golden Rod for rheumatic conditions concluded that the herbal medicine was comparable to NSAID (non-streroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) but with a much lower incidence of side effects (Klein-Galczinsky C: Wien Med Wochenschr 149(8-10):248-253, 1999)

~ Laboratory studies have shown that saponins from Golden Rod have immune modulating and anti-tumour effects; other constituents (flavonoids) in the plant have been shown to have diuretic effects and to cause an increase in electrolyte excretion; yet further substances in the plant (3,5,-O-caffeoylquinic acid) have shown effects on adrenal hormones in a way that may go to explain its anti-inflammatory actions (Strehl E et al: Arzneim Forsch 45(2):174-176, 1995) & (Melzig MF et al: Z Phytother 21(2):67-70, 2000)

Safety of Golden Rod

No adverse effects are expected (or have ever been reported) from taking Golden Rod in tea or tincture, even in high or frequent doses. It may be confidently taken during pregnancy or whilst breastfeeding and used by the young or old with safety.


Personal experiences

Golden Rod is a potent, activating, stimulating decongestant and for the right person it is a tremendous health ally to use when needed for as long as needed. I have found Golden Rod to be marvellous aid to people who need to cleanse their blood and body via their kidneys.

It is especially indicated when the urine is dark and reduced in quantity and if there is a pattern of stuck or congested illness or inflammation in the body. A person may only be aware that their joints are aching or that they have chronically bad digestion and not connect the fact that for a long time they have been dehydrated and their kidneys have been functioning poorly. Taking a course of Golden Rod along with plenty of water in such cases can cause a dramatic turnaround in a matter of just a week or two.

There is something about the vibrancy of Golden Rod’s growth and its intensely yellow flowers that translates into the potency of this medicine. Many herbs build their actions quietly and gently over time but Golden Rod, if taken correctly, is likely to be noticed fairly immediately. If you who are reading this are studying herbal medicine or simply want to get to know this plant ally more deeply for your own reasons then I warmly encourage you to drink a cup of its tea or take a dose of its tincture and then, with a quiet and attentive mind, observe for yourself what happens next! I can assure you that it will be nothing bad (the taste is a little bitter, astringent, herby and earthy but really not that difficult). Golden Rod is a deep and energetic medicine that you will likely feel pushing in a subtle but palpable way to wherever you may have a block of 'damp heat' in your body (which is an old fashioned way of describing inflammation). This 'pushing' doesn't take a person's symptoms away but rather helps the body to move what it is that has become blocked... I'm sorry if that sounds cryptic to you; the best way to understand any of this is to try for yourself and see - it will give you an appreciation of the herb that no amount of abstract learning will achieve!

I have often found that when people start a course of Golden Rod that they are likely to cough more, pee more, blow their noses and even sneeze more for a while after they start using it but I think it needs to be taken in a fairly vigorous dose to achieve these kinds of effects. As a tea I use somewhere between 1-2 heaped tsps at least 2 or 3 times a day infused for 10 minutes in freshly boiled water. As a tincture I use around 3-4 mls again 2-3 times a day. This is a very safe herb to take in high doses but it is not a medicine that I find generally needs to be taken for so very long...

Golden Rod combines perfectly with Uva ursi, Corn Silk and Elder flowers for all kinds of urinary tract problems including infections or simply poor kidney function. It works exceptionally well with Thyme for head and upper respiratory catarrh and with White Horehound and Mullein for chest and lung congestion.


Constitutional note

Much of the information here about the traditional uses of Golden Rod is consistent with the model of thinking whereby one may treat problem A with plant B.

There is value in this approach, especially in how it helps us pass on useful knowledge to one another, but it falls short in one vital area; and that is that people are not all cut from the same cloth! Something that works brilliantly for one person may do less for another -- why is this?

The reason is that people vary in their constitutions as to whether they are more hot or cool and at the same time more dry or damp; more info about this here.

There is an old wisdom in treating the person first and the condition second and in this light Golden Rod can particularly offer its benefits when a cleansing action is needed in the 'cycle of healing' - something that is discussed here and shown in a chart here.

Excerpt from Felter & Lloyd's Kings Dispensatory from 1898

Sweet-scented goldenrod is gently stimulant and carminative, and, in warm infusion, diaphoretic.

It may be given in infusion in flatulent colic, amenorrhoea, sickness at the stomach, and as a pleasant drink in convalescence from severe dysentery, diarrhoea, cholera morbus etc.; and may also be added to nauseating medicines to render them more agreeable to the taste.

The flowers are aperient, tonic, astringent, and diuretic, and have been found beneficial in gravel, urinary obstructions, ulceration of the bladder, and in the early stage of dropsy.

Please understand that I cannot personally advise you, including on products or dosage, without seeing you in my clinic but ideas on how you might find a good herbalist in your area are here.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!




© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd