Goldenrod essential oil is steam distilled from the flowering tops of Solidago canadensis of the Asteraceae family. As the specific epithet (canadensis) indicates this gem is native to North America and often grown and distilled in Canada for its essence.
S. canadensis is one of over 100 species of Solidago1 and may be identified by its stems (up to 7’ tall with fine hairs at the top but smooth further down), leaves (sharply toothed, lanceoloate and covered with fine hairs) and flowers (multi-branched inflorescence at the end of each stem) where the nectar-giving heads are mostly on one side of long, droopy panicles.
Canadian goldenrod was introduced to Europe in the 1600’s and China in the 1900’s where it has become an “invasive thug” and has quite happily naturalized itself mainly due to its incredible allelopathic2 powers. There is interesting research3,4 on how North American Solidago competes in Asia with China’s native Phragmites australis and how the balance between nitrogen and phosphorus may be involved. Coincidentally, Phragmities is a major “thug” here in North America. Balance may be realized should we give plants a chance and stop physically and chemically abusing Earth’s ecosystems. Healing plants often show up where they are needed.
Goldenrod earned the unwarranted reputation of being weedy in North America due to its “aggressive” growth by rhizomes, which allow it to quickly take over disturbed sites. The plant is often found on abandoned farmlands and pastures, waste areas, thickets, prairies, open woods, along roadsides and fences. However, when the land is in-balance goldenrod can be seen happily co-existing with other plants. It prefers moist over dry soils and doesn’t mind a little shade. It is also an integral member of the ecosystem as it provides late-season nectar to myriad pollinators such as bees, solitary wasps, nectar eating beetles and butterflies to name a few.
This star of North America shows off its golden inflorescence from August through October—a time when ragweed (a known allergen) is also in bloom. Many people wrongfully blame Goldenrod for seasonal allergies whereas it may be quite beneficial for drippy-leaky allergy symptom control5.
Solidago (“to make whole”) is from the Latin “solidus/solido” (whole) and “ago” (“to make”). Consider how this plant shows up to “disturbed sites” where healing is needed. Overall, this plant is gentle, nurturing and kind—rather like its relatives yarrow and chamomile. When spending time with the plant and its essential oil, take the time to commune with good company and bask in the plant’s vibes of late hazy-lazy days of summer when the crickets are humming and the sun is still warm but less intense than during high-summer. Goldenrod reminds us that healing comes from slowing down and enjoying the nurturing company of others who genuinely love us. It nurtures contentment.
Goldenrod is a powerful but gentle aromatic. People indigenous to North America have worked with the plant (all parts) for its gentle efficacy for aches & pains, flu, fever, diarrhea, inflammation and catarrh. Emotionally and mentally it was used as a sedative, “as wash for a child who does not talk or laugh,” sleeplessness and excess crying.6
From an aromatherapy perspective Goldenrod is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, anti-viral, diuretic, expectorant, mucolytic, a blood mover, hypotensive, hepatic-stimulant and a venous tonic. I find the essential oil quite calming. It opens up the breath and lungs as it pulls down to the diaphragm and expands across the solar plexus—the blood quickens and pulsates but not uncomfortably so.
Following are core indications to consider:
|Circulatory||Vein tonic, works with the blood, hypo-tensive|
|Digestive||Supporter of the liver, kidneys and “rest and digest” response|
|Mind||Sleeplessness, agitated mind, supporting personal power (solar plexus) and contentment|
|Respiratory||Catarrh, astringent (drippy mucus)|
Chemistry Highlights: Goldenrod has an interesting representation of esters (bornyl acetate), monoterpenes (d-limonene, α-pinene, β-pinene, sabinene, myrcene) and sesquiterpenes (Germacrene D).
Is Goldenrod Essential Oil Safe?
Yes, Goldenrod essential oil is generally regarded as safe (GRAS).
Blending with Goldenrod Essential Oil:
Goldenrod is rather subtle—it doesn’t “leap” off of a scent strip despite its preponderance of monoterpenes. The clean and freshly terpenic clear-blue-air aroma slowly hovers around, revealing wet grass in the late-summer sun. Hints of balsamic damp earth emerge—as if after a light misting of water on warm leaves. The feeling of late-sun warms and dries: soft and faintly sweet. The further dry-down is of sweet and grassy damp leaves with fresh notes of soft and honeyed perfume.
It is a joy taking the cap off the bottle. The sesquiterpene-rich oil gets a little resinous and sticky, like honey, and leaves residue on the mouth of the bottle.
Goldenrod gets along well with other members of the aster family such as Inula (Inula graveolens) and the chamomiles (Eriocephalus punctulatus, Matricaria recutita and Anthemis nobilis) as well as several botanicals rich in bornyl acetate such as Greenland moss (Ledum groenlandicum) and conifers such as Picea mariana and Abies balsamea. It also pairs nicely with other aromatics high in d-limonene such as Frankincense (Boswellia frereana, B. sacra), Palo Santo (Bursera graveolens) and innumerable friends from the Citrus family.
Creating Wellness Products with Goldenrod
Joyful Communication: Stock Bottle of Synergy
Like the late summer which is filled with the buzz and hum of many insects, Goldenrod has a lot to say. I dare write that it empowers openness, receptivity and communication. Consider how the flowers grow tightly knit in community—hundreds of little flowers on 1 plant! When blooming, the plant exudes joy. Harness that joy with the following synergy.
60 drops Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)
50 drops Corkbark fir (Abies lasiocarpa v. arizonica) or another conifer of your choice
15 drops Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus)
This blend may be lovely in an aromatic spritzer or to diffuse when looking to bring a convivial atmosphere to a room. Following are some ideas: add 25 drops to a personal inhaler. Add 10-15 drops in water diffuser, or 2ml in nebulizing diffuser. Add 30 drops to a 2 ounce aromatic spritzer.
Calming Lotion Bars
As aromatherapy is a mind-body connector, this blend of oils may help soothe irritations (e.g., post bug bite, scraps and cuts, mucus/respiratory support) and irritated minds, while being gentle and calming.
20 drops Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)
15 drops Inula (Inula graveolens)
5 drops Cape chamomile (Eriocephalus punctulatus)
Have you ever heard of lotion bars? They are a super portable way to bring topical anti-inflammatory care to the whole family. Click here for a recipe. The above blend will be enough to incorporate into the given recipe.
Gentle Dreams Slumber Oil
Combine the gentle classics of lavender and chamomile with goldenrod to bring sweet slumber to the little ones, the elders and everyone in-between. Consider putting this in a 1-ounce bottle with a pump or flip-top dispenser and massaging a small amount onto the chest and solar plexus before going to sleep.
1 fl oz of Jojoba oil
10 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
5 drops Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)
1 drop English chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)
Thank you for taking time out of your day to read about goldenrod essential oil. I have a bias with this plant as I love distilling it for the hydrosol and reveling in its deeply relaxing qualities. Every time I work with it I feel the golden sunlight of late summer and the buzz of the bees—a bit cotton-heady and very relaxed. The hydrosol’s aroma is similar to the essential oil: damp-clean-blue with earth after a light rain. Do you love working with this ally as well? Let me know.
1One of many, it also goes by many names: Canadian goldenrod, meadow goldenrod, common goldenrod, giant goldenrod, tall goldenrod, shorthair goldenrod (S. canadensis var. gilvocanescens), Hager’s goldenrod (S. canadensis var. hargeri), rough goldenrod (S. canadensis var. salebrosa).
2“The chemical inhibition of one plant (or other organism) by another, due to the release into the environment of substances acting as germination or growth inhibitors.” [Source: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/allelopathy]
5 I reference the herbalist Jim Mcdonald. [Source: https://herbcraft.org/nasaleyewash.html]
6Moerman, Daniel. Native American Medicinal Plants. Portland, Timber Press, 2009.