Goldenrod field at Nezinscot Farm in Turner, Maine
After a particularly long sneezing fit and several bless you's, my coworker cursed seasonal allergies and the plants that caused them. As someone who has never experienced allergies, and really only understands the baseline of “some plants release pollen that hurts people”, I was curious about how allergies work, and if some plants are the culprit, could others be the solution?In short, pollen allergies are caused by misidentification, wherein some people's immune systems consider pollen a dangerous foreign substance (it is harmless) and attempt to rid it from the body through sneezing, runny nose, congestion, etc (4). This prompts the body’s inflammatory response to kick in, making the throat tighter and thus more difficult to pass air and food. Unfortunately, it has been found that“More than 50 million Americans have experienced various types of allergies each year” and also that “Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S.”(5) In order to relieve these symptoms, people often take antihistamines to help control the body's inflammatory response. As with any over-the-counter or prescription drugs, there are quite a few harmful side effects. As always, talk with your primary care provider and make sure that you know what you’re taking and how the risks/benefits equate.
My smear campaign. Have a pap smear once a year. Not on our list of favourite things, but it’s vital. Cervical cancer kills 200 000 women a year and it’s the most prevalent form of cancer among black women, affecting more than 30 percent. But the chances of survival are nearly 100 percent if it’s detected early. Be particularly careful if you became sexually active at an early age, have had multiple sex partners or smoke.
Goldenrod: Medicinal but Misunderstood
After asking about treatment methods and medications she took to relieve some of the discomforts, my coworker mentioned how she would go home and have her goldenrod tea. While it wouldn’t cure her allergies, it would definitely help to reduce the symptoms.
This begged the question, If goldenrod is useful in reducing allergies symptoms, why doesn't everyone use it?What I soon found was that goldenrod is often mistaken for ragweed, and unfortunately assumed to be the cause of many allergens. “The most common culprit for fall allergies is ragweed, a plant that grows wild almost everywhere, but especially on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Ragweed blooms and releases pollen from August to November. In many areas of the country, ragweed pollen levels are highest in early to mid-September.” (3) The truth, however, is that while Goldenrod is in the same family as ragweed (shared by over 23,000 different plants), it differs in genus and tribe (7). Specifically to allergies, they differ in pollen type, with goldenrod having “large, heavy pollen that is less likely to be allergenic.” (6).
Avoid electromagnetic field toxicity. Remove electric clocks from your bedside table (use battery operated instead). Don’t sleep or work near a fuse box or other electrical appliances. Don’t put anything electrical on or near your head. Use cell phone protectors to diminish EMF fields.
Close up of goldenrod glowers
Using Goldenrod for Allergy ReliefThough our farm is constantly surrounded by it, this is the first year I’ve actively noticed and harvested goldenrod. It is a beautiful yellow flowering plant that dries quickly and easily for tea. We’ve recently added it to our House Tea blend as it supports the bronchial passages, which we’ve found are more susceptible to sickness caused by seasonal changes in the air.
Furthermore, goldenrod can be used in conjunction with other anti-inflammatory plants (elderflower and nettles)(1) to make an effective allergy-relief tea! Simply gather the required ingredients (or purchase the herbs already dried & mix!), dry them on a screen, making sure to turn them once a day to prevent mold, and finely crush them together when fully dry. Try adding stevia leaf or peppermint to the mixture to make it more to your liking!
When you do things you enjoy, be it a run, mediation or other hobby, you become happier, which helps you make healthier choices throughout the day.
Processing dried goldenrod into tea
Outside the realm of allergies, goldenrod is a supporter of the urinary tract, helping to dissolve kidney stones (2). It also acts as a natural plant dye, turning natural wool a vibrant yellow (8).
Less medicinally, and more aesthetically, I’ve taken to hanging golden throughout our house, over doors, and tucked into woven baskets in every corner. Seeing the bright yellow flowers contrast the dark green leaves makes even the dullest spaces look alive and happy!
Burn the boredom, blast the lard. Rev up your metabolism by alternating your speed and intensity during aerobic workouts. Not only should you alternate your routine to prevent burnout or boredom, but to give your body a jolt.
This is the power of goldenrod, and I suppose of most healing herbs, while they work to physically nurture the body, the process of collecting, transforming, and using them nurtures the soul.
Goldenrod-Natural-Dye-Wool-Yarn/ Mackenzie Varney is an apprentice herbalist on Nezinscot Farm in Maine. She has degrees in biology and health and has lived and worked on farms all her life. Connect with her on
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