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Monday, October 29, 2012

17 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Herbal Conference Experience




I probably can’t call myself an herbal conference veteran, but I have been to a fair number of conferences over the years. As a result, I’ve had the chance to perfect my herbal conference experience (mainly from making all the classic mistakes).  

Herbal conferences can be amazing experiences. They offer the opportunity to download an astounding amount of varied information in a short amount of time. You can also meet herbalists from all over the country who you’ve never even heard of before. Some of my favorite people are people I’ve met at a conference. 





Herbal conferences can also be a challenging experience. From travel mishaps to strange food to bloated expectations - lots can go wrong! 

I hope the following suggestions help you to have your best conference experience! 

1. Plan ahead

I am publishing this article in the fall of the year, after most conferences are done for the year, mainly because of this point: plan ahead! Whether it is asking for time off of work, making travel arrangements or simply saving your pennies, conference plans are best done in advance.

If money is tight, most conference have early bird discounts for those who register early, also many offer volunteer positions for full or partial registration price. Most of those volunteer positions go fast! 

2. Choose which conference(s) to attend wisely

There are so many things to consider when choosing which conference to go to. People often use location as a determining factor. Definitely the closer the conference is to you the less travel expenses and the smaller your carbon footprint. It’s obviously an important consideration. 

However, don’t let location be the only determining factor. Who is presenting at the conference? Do you resonate with numerous teachers? What classes are being presented? Are there multiple classes that are of high interest to you? Consider paying a few extra hundred dollars to attend the conference that you will get the most out of (vs. the one that is closest to you).

3. Take care of yourself before the conference

The time leading up to a conference can be a little bit stressful. Preparing your work/house/family/garden for your absence, combined with travel plans, packing, etc. can leave you harried and stressed. 

Combine the added stress with the increased exposure to pathogens (from airports the conference itself) is a great recipe for susceptibility for illness whether it’s traveler’s diarrhea or an upper respiratory virus. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to a large gathering of people and there’s something “going around.” Take preventive steps! 

In the weeks leading up to a conference I take even better care of myself than normal. I get extra sleep (I know I am going to need it!), take adaptogens and immunomodulators and exercise every day. I take immunostimulants while in the airport and often bring elderberry potions for the duration of the conference. Note: I can’t remember the last time I got sick at a conference. 

4. Learn how to be in two places at once. 

If you haven’t heard the jokes about cloning yourself or acquiring Hermione’s device (from Harry Potter) to be in two places at once then you’ve obviously never been to an herbal conference. This joke is as prevalent as discussing the weather. As you might have guessed, this ubiquitous nature of this joke comes from the fact that, well, it’s true. 

Most class times will be fraught with the ever impossible decision of deciding which incredible class to attend. 

Some things to consider. 
Is this class relevant to your life now? One of the first conferences I ever went to had each class labeled as to whether it was beginner, intermediate or advanced. I chose to go to most of the advanced classes and most of those classes were way over my head and had little bearing on my life. Unfortunately I am a slow learner and it took me a whole weekend to figure it out! 

Who is presenting the class? Sometimes the who can be more important than the what. Remember conferences are about the experience. If there is a teacher that you have long admired that lives far away from you and you’ve never seen them live before, it may be worth it even if their class isn’t first on your “to-learn” list. Some people are simply amazing presenters or their classes are offered in a way that isn’t easy to replicate on paper. Doug Elliot’s performances are a good example of this! 

What is the class about? Do your best to figure out what the classes are about ahead of time. Consult the class notes. If possible, ask the teacher specific questions about the materials that are going to be presented to determine if the class is a good match for you. Think about your own learning goals.

No magic required, you can be in two places at once! There’s this amazing device that actually does enable you to be in two places at once. It’s called a voice recorder and it’s a good investment! Conferences can cost hundreds of dollars, not only in the ticket price but also time off of work, travel, eating out, etc. Make the most out of it by getting a  high quality voice recorder for those times you can’t decide where to be. Make sure you can get good sound quality from the recorder. I promise you will probably never listen to something that is barely intelligible and sounds like static. 

Keep in mind that technology can and will fail. So, it’s still a good idea to decide which class is a higher priority for you. 

Always ask the teacher before you record. 

See if you can enlist the help of a friend to set up the recorder for you. 

Also realize that some classes are an experience you need to be present for. 7 Steps to Cardiovascular Health is probably more amenable to taping than a flower essence meditation. 

Oftentimes John (from LearningHerbs.com) and I tape various presentations at conferences. Sometimes I hear people say, “well, if you are taping this one, I’ll go to another one”. Bad idea! Technology can and will fail. Also, we still have footage and audio recordings from years ago that we will get to... one day. So, always consider the recordings to be a bonus, if they work out. 

Larger conference often offer recordings of the lectures. Take advantage of this! 

5. Be social! 

This tip obviously isn’t for the extremely outgoing folks who thrive interacting with droves of people. Nope. This tip is for quiet, I-am-much-more-comfortable-speaking-with-plants-than-people-type. Get over it. Well, at least for a few days. 

Sure, we sign up for conferences mainly because of the classes, but the social interactions and connections you make can be as powerful as the classes you attend. I’ll repeat because it is that important. The social interactions and connections you make can be as powerful as the classes you attend. 

I can be rather shy in large crowds myself, so I feel for you. And I’ve been to conferences where I’ve done my best to hide and I’ve been to conferences where I did my best to meet new people. I probably don’t have to tell you which conferences are more fun. 

Sit with people at meal times. Introduce yourself to your neighbor before class. Smile. 

6. Bring extra cash

Maybe you think I am going to give you the finger waving lecture on having extra cash for unexpected travel expenses. That’s probably smart. But no. Bring extra cash because you will undoubtedly find amazing herbal treasures and specials deals at the conference and you will want, no need, them. Badly. 

7. Spread the appreciation love

It’s truly amazing all that goes into a conference. 

Teachers travel from all over to share their wisdom and experiences. Some conferences pay for the teacher’s travel expenses and offer them a teaching stipend as well. Some don’t. Besides the accumulated wisdom they share, teachers oftentimes put extra effort into that particular presentation from power point slides, to class handouts, to herbal samples, etc. If you enjoyed the class, clap hard at the end and if possible, let them know verbally that you appreciate the effort they put into being there! 

It’s easy for teachers to be in the limelight at a conference, but there are so many other people who have worked hard to pull off the event. Volunteers often work hard and they often do tasks that wouldn’t be everyone’s favorite thing. Thank them! 

Organizers of the event often spend an entire year preparing for it. Thank them! 

Sponsors of the event often donate money at a time when the organizers need it most (before ticket sales) and thus, make the event possible. Thank them! 

For whoever I left out, thank them! Spread the appreciation love. 

8. Don’t place all your expectation eggs in one basket

Years ago I was at an AHG symposium and David Winston had to suddenly cancel due to illness. I was bummed! I was really hoping to see him, and, as a matter of fact, I still haven’t seen him live. I was chatting with someone at the conference and I mentioned that David wasn’t going to make it and this person was outraged. He told me, “If I had known that I wouldn’t even have come!” and then he stormed off. Whoa! 

Sure, you may have your aspirations for the conference, but don’t go simply for one person or for one reason. It’s a package deal and you are just setting yourself up for disappointment. Enjoy the whole experience! Be open to the surprises along the way. 

9. Help make it better next year

Most (unfortunately not all) conference organizers are open to hearing suggestions on how to improve the event for next year. But they don’t know if you don’t tell them! I often hear people bitching and moaning about one thing or another which really doesn’t serve a purpose. Instead, leave kind, but constructive suggestions for the organizers on improvements you would like to see. 

10. Bring some herbal gifts

You know how you give your friends and family your amazing herbal products and six months later you find them unopened on their back shelf? That (ahem) never happens to me of course. But that might be happening to you because they just don’t know how great your crazy herb stuff really is. I love to bring little herbal goodies I’ve made to conferences to share them with the people I connect with. It’s fun! And it’s fun to see my herbal potions appreciated by people who know how awesome herbs are! 

11. Take care of yourself during the conference

Conferences can be hard. You’ve just traveled a long way, you are sitting for a long time in classes, I’ve coerced you into being far more social than you are used to, the food is strange and on and on. That’s okay! Just do what you need to do to take care of yourself. 

Miss a class time and go for a walk! Take a nap. Bring things to pamper yourself with. Don’t be overly focused on getting the “most” out of classes. It’s a whole experience and taking a nap or having some quiet time can refresh you for a more positive experience later. 

12. Call home, but make it short. 

Call home but leave most of your stories for later. Again, be present and open to the experiences of the conference. If you are spending gobs of time on the phone or emailing then you are probably missing out on meeting some great people or even some great plants. 

13. Think about your specialized food needs. Bring snacks! 

I’ve been pretty amazed at how well most conferences do at offering foods that work for a wide range of people. From vegans to paleo types to food intolerances, there is a lot to look out for. If you have a specialized diet, check out the menu ahead of time to make sure you can eat! Either way bring plenty of snacks. Worse case scenario is that you’ll bring them home with you. 

14. Try not to get hung up on what goes wrong

Travel, life out of the norm, large groups of people and high expectations offers many challenges. Get over it. Don’t let mishaps ruin your whole experience. Shrug off the bad and focus on the good. 

15. Leave class if you need to

Sure, it sucks, to get up in the middle of class and leave. But sometimes you have to. Hopefully if you have a personal health issue, you know to leave, but I also want to give you permission to leave if it is not the class for you. Is it way over your head? Too basic? Leave. Do so quietly. Enter your next class quietly. It’s amazing I even feel the need to have to say that, but after some recent experiences, apparently I do. 

16. Conferences are not necessarily a place of personal healing

I debated whether or not to include this in here. Sure, personal healing absolutely does happen at conferences. But my suggestion to you is that personal healing probably shouldn’t be your goal at a conference. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people approach teachers or herbalists at conferences to ask personal health advice. Rarely is this done in a non-intrusive way. 

If you have a chronic health problem that you need help with, hire someone for a consultation. Don’t hit them up after they’ve just talked for three hours straight to give you some free advice. 

On the other hand, if you have a chronic health problem, be open to the healing you may receive at the conference. Because yeah, that does happen. 

And obviously I am not talking about first aid or acute problems that may come up at the conference. If you need help, ask for it! Many times there is a first aid booth or an appointment first aid person who can help you. You may also find that a couple attendees brought some herbs with them... 

17. Take care of yourself after you get home

Can you tell that I am really into self-care? Honestly though, I think how well you prepare yourself before, during and after the conference has a huge impact on the whole experience. 

For example, John and I often plan an extra travel day before and after conferences. Call it a luxury, but I think this makes an enormous difference for us. The extra days on either end often mean that we don’t have to leave the conference early or arrive late due to travel hiccups. We don’t have to stress about hurrying. 

If you can, ease back into work and home life slowly after you get home. If you get home on Sunday, take Monday off. Take time to absorb your experience. Oftentimes conferences are life changing events. Honor that. 

More ideas? 

Certainly there must be a few more conference going tips out there! Please share them in the comments. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Herbal Face Cream Recipe Featuring Wild Roses



Creating your own luxurious creams is so rewarding! You can easily formulate sensuous creams, using only the best of ingredients for a fraction of the price you would pay for a similar natural product. 

I first learned to make cream by watching a video of Rosemary Gladstar making her famous perfect cream. I had always been so intimidated by the process and she really made it so accessible. 



There are a thousand variations of this basic recipe. I make it a different time each way so feel free to experiment with the different butters, different oils and different infused plants! 

Let's begin with the ingredients. I think of this recipe in three parts with the butters and wax, the oils and then the waters. 

You can buy all of these organic ingredients at Mountain Rose Herbs. This is where I buy all of my butters, oils, wax, herbs and hydrosol because they have the highest quality products at the lowest prices. Using the links on my blog to purchase items from Mountain Rose Herbs helps to support the information on this blog. 

The Ingredients for Wild Rose Facial Cream


Butters and Wax


Oils


Waters



1. Begin by weighing out the butters and wax. You'll need a scale to do this. 

In the original recipe Rosemary uses a 1/3 cup of butters. I don't like trying to get hard butters weighed into a measuring cup so I strongly prefer weighing them out with a scale. Rosemary often uses coconut oil and I sometimes to do. So many possibilities and butters to choose from! 


2. Mix together your oils. You are basically looking for 3/4 cup oils of any kind. Jojoba oil, almond oil, apricot oil and almond oil are also nice choices for light carrier oils. 

Olive oil will make a very thick cream that can feel a little greasy. If you've never made herbal infused oils before you can learn how to do so in this video. I use fresh wild rose petals that I harvest myself. If you don't have access to fresh petals you can used dried rose petals

You don't have to use an herbally infused oil either. It can simply be a straight carrier oil


3. Slowly melt your butters on very low heat. I use a pan that I only use for cream and salve making that has a nice spout on it. (I found it at a thrift store for $2!) I use popsicle sticks to stir the mixture. 

4. Once the butters and wax have melted turn off the heat and slowly stir in the oils. You'll notice it start to thicken up a bit. If necessary turn the heat on low again until the oils and butters and wax have completely melted. I then pour this mixture into a large pyrex measuring glass. If you use a blender to mix the waters and butters then pour it into the blender. 



5. Let this mixture cool down in the fridge. It is ready when it is no longer clear and is just barely solid. Don't wait until it becomes too hard, if that happens, reheat and then cool down again. 



6. While the butters and oils mixture is cooling, mix together your waters. You can use distilled water in place of a hydrosol but I strongly prefer the hydrosols since they add additional healing benefits and help to preserve this cream longer. 


Let's pause for a word on preservation...

Preservation is a bit tricky with creams. Some people use grapefruit seed extract, but since this isn't a natural substance and it is potentially dangerous I avoid it. I used to have problems with my creams molding after a few months but once I started adding the cottonwood tincture that problem went away. Be sure to use only very clean instruments when making your creams, then store them in a cool place and they will last for several months if not longer. 

I use borax powder as an additional emulsifier. 

A word on essential oils

Using rose hydrosol and herbally infused oils will scent your creams very slightly. If you want a stronger rose scent you'll need to add Rose essential oils  Warning, these are expensive! I adore the scent of roses so much that I do pony up and pay for the rose essential oil. I use just a tiny bit and it lasts a long time. 


7. Once the butters and wax have cooled they need to be blended at high speed to mix them into the waters. I use a hand held cake mixer to do this. Some people use blenders. I like the ease of clean-up with the hand held mixer. 


What I do is slowly mix the butters, wax and oils mixture until it is all one consistency (generally it is in varying stages of hardening), then I turn up the mixer to high and slowly drizzle in the waters. Once the mixture has thickened and changes consistency I turn off the mixer immediately. You don't want to over blend or the cream will separate. 

8. Now you have an incredibly luxurious face cream that you can easily pour into jars. This recipe makes about 14 ounces of cream. 


Undoubtedly you'll have significant amount of cream in the bowl, blender, on the mixers, spoons etc. I learned from Rosemary that the best thing to do is get naked and use it all up. That's one thing I appreciate from Rosemary, she keeps it real! 

Another thing to make clean up easier is to use paper towels to soak up the excess oils before washing the blender and bowels with hot and soapy water. 

Enjoy your creams!

I have to warn you  about making creams, it's addictive! I love watching the oils and water combine to create this totally different substance. 

It's also addicting to create the most luxurious creams for a fraction of the price that you would spend on a similar (though often inferior) product at the store. 

If you aren't the type do-it-yourself type you can find a variety of beautiful creams and other herbal potions at PoppySwap.com. 





I'd love to hear from you!

Do you have a favorite version of Rosemary's Perfect Cream? I'd love to hear it in the comments below! 






Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Wild Rose Facial Cream Giveaway

Have you been enjoying Rosemary Gladstar's video series? 

Today all 23 videos are now available!!!!! 

Click here to enroll and find out all the details. 

I really love what Rosemary has to say in this video and John has a sweet surprise at the end. 




Next Giveaway

My last giveaway to support these awesome Rosemary videos is one of my most favorite and most used recipes from Rosemary - her perfect cream recipe. 

This famous recipe is used by many herbalists to create a beautiful facial cream that is deeply nourishing to the skin. 

In this giveaway I'll be giving away two ounces of my wild rose facial cream and two ounces of my wild rose body butter. This is quite the set! 






The wild rose facial cream is made with infused oils of wild rose petals, wild violet flowers and violet leaves and my own garden-grown calendula flowers along with rose hip seed oil, tamanu oil and several butters including shea butter and cacao butter. 

The wild rose body butter is one of my specialities! It's a rich blend of body butters that deeply nourishes the skin. 


Your body butter has THE most beautiful consistency. It's like rubbing on a cloud.
Rebecca Altman


How you can enter the giveaway. 

There are SEVEN ways you can enter this giveaway. You can do all seven and increase your chances of winning! Remember to leave separate comments for each thing you do!

1. Visit this link to watch the details about Rosemary's videos. There's a sweet surprise at the end that is worth waiting for.  Leave a comment here about the video. Signing up for Rosemary's videos is a plus, but not required to enter this giveaway. 

2. Leave a comment on this blog post about one of your favorite recipes that you've learned from Rosemary. 

3. Sign up for my newsletter and get a free ebook on the Taste of Herbs (Look for the sign up in the upper left column of this blog.) Leave a comment on this blog post to say you did so! If you've already signed up leave a comment about why you like my newsletter (I'll just assume you like it if you are on it!)  :) 

4. "Like" my Methow Valley Herbs page on Facebook and leave a comment on this blog post saying you did. (If you've already liked my page you can leave a comment about what you like about the page.)

5. Share this photo on my FB page and leave a comment on this blog post about it. 

6. Tweet this blog post and leave a comment on this blog post about it.

7. Pin the image above. 

Remember to include your name in your comments and do a separate comment post for each thing you do! 

The giveaway ends at 9 am on October 20th, 2012! 
At that time I'll draw the winner's name!

Good luck!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Goldenrod - a Torch of Healing




Goldenrod
Also called Blue Mountain Tea
Scientific name: Solidago canadensis, S. odora, S. virgaurea (and most likely many other Solidago species; do your own research before trying an unknown variety)

Family: Asteraceae (daisy family)

Parts used: aerial portions

Plant Properties: warm or cool depending on species, drying, aromatic, carminative, diuretic, diaphoretic, astringent, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, antiseptic, expectorant, anti-fungal

Plant Uses: bladder infections, kidney stones, seasonal allergies (allergic rhinitis), arthritis, tasty tea high in antioxidants, bleeding disorders, fevers, bleeding, diarrhea, fungal infections, venous insufficiency, edema

Plant Preparations: Tea, tincture, fresh juice, poultice, powder, infused into oil, poultice
Goldenrod growing at Ancestree Herbals. Photo by Chaya Kudla
When the tall spires of goldenrod begin to boast their yellow blooms I know we are immersed in my favorite season of the year. Goldenrod flowers mean long days, hot weather and plenty of swimming in the wild lakes and rivers. Just this past weekend we floated down the Methow River and spied many tall spires of goldenrod overlooking our passage.

Goldenrod grows all over the world and most species are probably medicinal in some respect or another. In this monograph we’ll be looking at the main species that are named above. Use your local field guides to find out what is growing near you. Let us know about your local goldenrods by posting your experiences in the forums!
For the urinary system… 
Goldenrod has a long history of use for the urinary system. It has been used for urinary tract infections as well as for strengthening the kidneys. Goldenrod is both astringent and antiseptic. By tightening and toning the tissues of the urinary system, as well as providing action against bacteria, goldenrod is well suited to addressing bladder and urinary tract infections.
Many of the older herbal literature sources cite it being used for kidney stones and it is still being used this way today.
The German Commission E has officially approved goldenrod for the treatment of bladder and urinary system inflammations.
Meanwhile, Goldenrod is one of the very few known trophorestoratives to the kidney organ. In any chronic kidney condition, this remedy is an indispensable asset and should be used long term. 
Peter Holmes
Energetics of Western Herbs
Seasonal allergies… 
Another area that goldenrod shines is for allergic rhinitis or seasonal allergies. I use it in many of my seasonal allergy formulas (often combined with peach and plantain) and have seen it completely eliminate the itchy-red-eyes, runny-nose and excessive sneezing symptoms for many people.
Goldenrod also works really well for cat dander allergies. I suggest that people keep titrating up the dose until relief is found. Matt Wood recommends it in small drop doses.
Many people despise goldenrod and blame it for their fall sniffles. However, the more likely culprit is ragweed or Ambrosia species. Goldenrod is pollinated by insects, not by wind. As a result, its pollen is heavy and sticky and does not readily float through the air and thus into people’s noses to cause the offending symptoms.
I recently asked herbalists what they thought of the goldenrod and allergy controversy. Most agreed that goldenrod does not overtly cause allergic reactions although Nicholas Schnell felt differently. I’ll include his words as a caution and I’d love to hear from you in the forums if you personally have experienced overt allergic reactions from goldenrod.
We have isolated cultivated goldenrod areas on our farm, with no ragweed of any species even remotely close. People will have acute wind born like allergies from it without touching it, just going close. I have noted this for many years. Science says it is impossible, but it is something I have observed. I have also found the leaf tincture to be reactive with many, even though I harvest it before the flowering stage.
Nicholas Schnell
Muscle pain and arthritis… 
In recent times goldenrod has gained popularity for relieving many different aches and pains from chronic arthritis to acute injuries. It can be infused into oil and rubbed into the painful areas for this purpose.
Goldenrod relieves most muscle aches. Try it for pains nothing else has touched. Give the oil a try for itches and swellings, too. 
Henriette Kress
Tasty tea high in antioxidants… 
I recently took a class with Robert Dale Rogers who is a phenomenal herbalist and presenter. He presents herbs by combining his lifetime of experience with historical uses and modern day research. He says that goldenrod has 7 times the antioxidant levels of green tea, to which he added, “One day someone will become rich by marketing goldenrod tea.”

You can buy goldenrod in bulk from my affiliate partner, Mountain Rose Herbs
Antioxidants are often called the key to good health and longevity. They can rid the body of free radicals, thus reducing the oxygenation of our cells. This process is often blamed for the aging process.
Goldenrod is a good source of the constituent rutin. This flavonoid is well-known for its antioxidant benefits and is considered especially beneficial for heart health. Rutin can increase capillary strength and support healthy circulation throughout the cardiovascular system. It is also being studied for its ability to stop angiogenesis (and therefore play a role in stopping certain kinds of cancers.)1
Have you tasted goldenrod tea? It is a very tasty tea, slightly sweet and astringent with a hint of volatile oils. A tasty treat with a higher antioxidant level than green tea!
Wounds… 
The name solidago means “to make whole.” Historical references site using goldenrod poultices for healing wounds and for use on burns. I don’t see a lot of contemporary herbalists using it in this way and it seems like a great avenue to explore.
The fresh leaves make a good addition to burn salves, combining well with yarrow, and plantain  oils. The dry and powdered leaves make a good styptic agent for shaving cuts; whereas the dried powdered flowers have been mixed with fresh cream in Russia, and used to heal indolent ulcers and tuberculosis of the skin.
Robert Dale Rogers
Herbalist
Colds and flus… 
Goldenrod has many actions that are beneficial during a cold or flu. It is a mild diaphoretic, helping to open the pore and release heat through the skin and therefore can support a person during a fever.
As an astringent and antimicrobial it can soothe a sore swollen throat – try it as a tea or infuse the fresh herb into honey.
It also helps to break up excessive and stuck mucous in the lungs, which can then be expectorated and expelled out of the body with more ease.
The exact mechanism is not known, but it appears that irritation in the gut causes a reflex reaction in embryologically related areas (lungs and kidneys), resulting in a tissue response to flush away the offending substance. This provides goldenrod with an interesting paradoxical effect, on the one hand being astringent and anti-catarrhal and on the other hand increasing the production of thin, easily eliminated mucous. The precise degree to which either effect occurs appears to depend upon the tissue state: tissues congested with thick, sticky mucous will benefit from a thinning of the mucous which makes for easier elimination; tissues producing too much mucous and tending to weakness will be benefited by a drying and toning action.
Paul Bergner
Fungal infections… 
The plant contains saponins that are anti-fungal and act specifically against the Candida fungus which is the cause of vaginal and oral thrush. It can be swished in the mouth (in the case of oral thrush) or used as a sitz bath for vaginal infections.
For non-allergy related chronic yeast infections I have found it of moderate use, and its effect is greatly enhanced by Beebalm and/or Alder (Alnus spp.). It also has a long history by indigenous North American people as a douche or vaginal soak in the treatment of infections, for general discomfort and preventative hygiene. While I am not a proponent of douches, I do think that herbal sitz baths can be extremely helpful in persistent, low-grade yeast infections.
Insulin resistance…
Another area that goldenrod is being studied is to ameliorate the symptoms of insulin resistance and diabetes. Some animal studies have shown it to be helpful.2 I mention this because it is an interesting new way that goldenrod is being used; however, keep in mind two very important things. One, studies involving mice do not indicate that the same results will be found in humans. And two, insulin resistance and diabetes are, most often, a disease of a poor diet and should never be treated without treating the diet first and foremost.

Finding Goldenrod for your apothecary.

If you are unable to harvest goldenrod you can buy goldenrod at Mountain Rose Herbs
Edible uses… 
Goldenrod is a delicious edible. The flowers can be fried up as fritters (similar to elder flower fritters) and the more mild tasting leaves can be cooked and eaten as well.
Botanically speaking…
There are over 100 species of goldenrods (Solidago). Solidago virgaurea, S. canadensis, S. gigantea, and S. odora are all commonly used in a similar manner. Each species has varying degrees of qualities however. One species may be more bitter than the next, or more astringent. Herbalists can’t seem to agree on whether or not goldenrod is cooling or warming and I suspect this also has to do with species variation.
I haven’t heard of any Solidago variety being harmful, but it is always best to know exactly what you are harvesting and using. Check with local sources to see if your local varieties have a history of use. (Also note it can be very difficult to tell some of the species apart due to hybridization.)
Here is a range map of where the Solidago spp. grow in the US.
In my area the most common species is Solidago canadensis and so my botanical section will focus on that particular species. (Keeping in mind that exact taxonomy is difficult because of variations between species and geographic clines in characteristics.) Check your local field guides for specifics on the species growing near you.
Canadensis is a perennial herb that can be grown easily from seed. It grows from rhizomatous roots and can reach up to 6 feet tall. It generally grows in clumps – which are often clones.
The leaves grow alternate and are lance shape.
The flowers are numerous and yellow and appear at the top of the goldenrod stalk. There are numerous small flowers on each stalk.
If you hang out with goldenrod for very long you’ll quickly become acquainted with the goldenrod spider. This spider turns yellow or white depend on which flower it is inhabiting. As you can see from the photo it is also a voracious hunter, often capturing and devouring insects three times its size. When I harvested goldenrod this summer I shook out at least five goldenrod spiders!
Goldenrod spider on goldenrod flowers taking by my friend and naturalist, Bernie at Northwest Natural Moments
Special consideration should be given to the variability of the flavors and scents within the great many spp. of Solidago. If you have multiple species near you (and you probably do) take the time to taste the leaf and flower of each kind, and get to know the subtle differences. The most aromatic tend to be more helpful for mood elevation, kidney problems and external use, while the more bitter or bitter/aromatic spp. are especially nice for digestive issues and the astringent/aromatic types are great for upper respiratory issues and general mucus membrane over-secretion. These type of subtleties apply to all herbs, but Goldenrod tends to be a great example of it because of the many spp. and sensory variances even within a single species or subspecies.
Kiva Rose, herbalist
Plant Preparations… 
Goldenrod leaves and flowers are used for herbal medicine. Harvest the entire stalks (leaving behind some leaves) just before the plant blooms.
Goldenrod tea is a tasty and effective medicine. The longer you brew it and the more herbs you use the stronger the medicine will be. For a pleasing beverage start with 1-2 teaspoons of goldenrod leaves/flowers per 8 ounces of water. Increase the steeping time and dosage as needed. 1-3 ounces of herb can be used per day.
For more diuretic properties drink the tea cold. For more diaphoretic properties and to promote digestion, drink the tea warm.
Goldenrod-infused honey can be used for sore throats (or as a tasty treat).
Try using goldenrod-infused oil for achy joints and more acute injuries. This could also be made into a salve or liniment.

The entire plant can be tinctured as well. I often use the tincture for leaky, drippy, seasonal allergies and cat danger allergies.
Susun Weed recommends making goldenrod-infused vinegar to ‘improve mineral balance, help prevent kidney stones, eliminate flatulence, and improve immune functioning.”
Special considerations… 
Some people may have an adverse reaction to goldenrod. It’s always best to consume small amounts when trying an herb for the first time.
Summary
Goldenrod is plentiful all throughout north america - and offers a plethora of healing virtues.  Its golden torches announce the height of summer and remind me to savor the moment and appreciate all the green growing things that will soon be entering a winter's slumber. Goldenrod tea is tasty and full of antioxidants, the infused oil is great for painful joints the tincture can help stop a hay fever reaction.... certainly an important plant to grow your herbal knowledge.

This article was originally published on HerbMentor.com