You may know goldenrod best as a yellow wildflower, but it’s also a popular ingredient in herbal supplements and teas.
The herb’s Latin name is Solidago, which means “to make whole or heal” and reflects its use in traditional herbal medicine.
Goldenrod is most often used as a supplement for improving urinary health and reducing inflammation.
This article reviews the potential benefits, dosage information, and precautions for goldenrod.
Goldenrod grows in Europe, Asia, and North and South America. It flourishes in roadside ditches and fields and is often considered a weed.
The plant’s yellow flowers bloom in late summer and early fall. It cross-pollinates easily with other plants, so there are more than 100 different species of goldenrod. Many of these are thought to have similar health properties.
Solidago virgaurea — sometimes called European goldenrod — is probably the best-studied species in terms of its health benefits. It has uses in both traditional Chinese medicine and herbal medicine in some European countries ().
To reap its benefits, people consume the parts of the plant that grow above ground — particularly the flowers and leaves ().
You can buy goldenrod as a tea or dietary supplement as well. The tea may have a somewhat bitter aftertaste, and some prefer it lightly sweetened.
Summary Solidago virgaurea is the goldenrod species most commonly used for health purposes. Its flowers and leaves are used to make tea and dietary supplements.
Goldenrod supplies many beneficial plant compounds, including saponins and flavonoid antioxidants like quercetin and kaempferol ().
Saponins are plant compounds linked to many health benefits. They may particularly be effective in inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria and yeast like Candida albicans.
Candida albicans is a fungus that can cause vaginal yeast infections, as well as infections in other parts of the body ().
Saponins have also been shown to possess anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects in test-tube and animal studies ().
The flavonoid antioxidants quercetin and kaempferol in goldenrod help protect your cells from damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals ().
Free radical damage is a factor in many chronic conditions, including heart disease and cancer (, ).
Notably, the antioxidant activity of goldenrod is more than that of green tea and vitamin C (, , , ).
The flavonoid antioxidants and other plant compounds in goldenrod also have anti-inflammatory benefits.
Summary Goldenrod contains many valuable plant compounds, including saponins, which have antifungal effects, and flavonoids, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions.
In traditional medicine, goldenrod has been used to combat inflammation, which contributes to pain and swelling ().
In rodent studies, goldenrod extract combined with aspen and ash tree extracts in the supplement Phytodolor reduced the swelling of injured tissues by as much as 60%.
It also lowered inflammation associated with arthritis by 12–45% in rodents, with greater effects at higher doses ().
Goldenrod in Phytodolor has been tested in people as well. In a review of 11 human studies, treatment with Phytodolor was equally effective as aspirin for reducing back pain and knee arthritis ().
This may be partly due to quercetin, a flavonoid antioxidant in goldenrod with potent anti-inflammatory effects (, , ).
However, the bark of aspen trees contains salicin — the active ingredient in aspirin — which also contributed to the anti-inflammatory benefits of the herbal blend tested.
Test-tube research of Phytodolor suggests that it’s the combination of ingredients — rather than a singular ingredient — that produces the most significant pain relief. Thus, it’s unclear how much of an effect goldenrod has on its own ().
Human studies that focus on goldenrod alone are needed to clarify its role in treating inflammation and pain.
Summary In traditional medicine, goldenrod has been used to combat inflammation and pain. Animal and human studies also suggest that it may ease these problems, but it’s only been tested as part of an herbal blend.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA), a government group that oversees medicines, recognizes goldenrod as potentially useful for improving the effectiveness of standard medical treatments for minor urinary problems (19).
This means that goldenrod may support or increase the effectiveness of medicines like antibiotics for a urinary tract infection (UTI) — but the herb should not be used alone as a treatment for such ailments.
Test-tube research suggests that goldenrod may help ward off UTIs. Still, it may be most effective when combined with other herbs — including juniper berry and horsetail herb ().
For this reason, you may see herbal supplements for urinary health containing goldenrod and other herbs.
Additionally, test-tube studies indicate that goldenrod extract may help with overactive bladder, or the frequent feeling of needing to urinate. It may also decrease painful spasms of the urinary tract ().
When 512 people with chronic overactive bladder took 425 mg of dry goldenrod extract 3 times daily, 96% saw improvement in the urgency to urinate and painful urination.
It’s uncertain how long they took the extract before they noticed benefits (22).
Therefore, it’s generally advised to drink plenty of water when taking the herb.
While promising, more human studies are needed to confirm the benefits of goldenrod for urinary health.
Summary Preliminary evidence suggests that goldenrod may enhance conventional medical treatments for urinary issues, including overactive bladder and urinary tract infections. However, more research is needed.
A few studies have tested goldenrod for other purposes, but much more research is required to confirm its effectiveness in these areas.
Preliminary studies have looked at goldenrod for:
- Weight control. Test-tube and mouse research suggests that goldenrod may combat obesity by regulating genes that control fat synthesis and the size of fat cells. For this reason, the herb is used in some weight loss teas (, ).
- Cancer prevention. According to test-tube research, goldenrod extract may kill cancer cells. Additionally, a rat study reported that injections of goldenrod extract suppressed the growth of prostate cancer tumors ().
- Heart health. Rats given goldenrod extract orally each day for 5 weeks before inducing heart damage had 34% lower levels of a blood marker for damage after the heart injury compared to the control group ().
- Anti-aging. A test-tube study found that goldenrod extract delayed the accumulation of old, poorly functioning skin cells. This may hold potential for deterring premature skin aging ().
Due to the lack of human research in these areas, it’s unknown whether goldenrod would have these same effects in people.
Summary Preliminary test-tube and animal research suggests that goldenrod may aid weight control, possess cancer-fighting properties, support heart health, and slow skin aging. However, these potential benefits haven’t been tested in humans.
You can buy goldenrod in the form of herbal tea, liquid extracts, and pills.
Liquid extracts are sold in bottles with droppers for easier dosing. Capsules and tablets containing dry extracts of goldenrod are more commonly found in blends with other herbs, such as juniper berry.
Dosages aren’t well tested in human studies yet, but traditional medicine doses suggest the following (19):
- Tea. 1‒2 teaspoons (3‒5 grams) of dried goldenrod per 1 cup (237 ml) of boiled water. Cover and let sit for 10‒15 minutes, then strain. Drink up to 4 times daily.
- Liquid extract. 0.5‒2 ml up to 3 times daily.
- Dry extract. 350‒450 mg up to 3 times daily.
These recommended amounts are for adults and teens. Goldenrod generally isn’t suggested for children under the age of 12 due to lack of data on its safety.
If goldenrod is used for a specific ailment, it’s usually continued for 2–4 weeks (19).
Further dosage guidelines can be found on supplement packages.
Summary Goldenrod is available as herbal tea, liquid extract in dropper bottles, and capsules or tablets — usually in combination with other herbs. Dose information is based on traditional medicine due to a lack of human studies.
Goldenrod is generally well tolerated without major side effects. However, there are a few precautions you should note, including allergies and interactions in people with certain medical conditions (19).
While goldenrod is sometimes blamed for airborne seasonal allergies, it’s not a major culprit, as its heavy pollen doesn’t travel easily by wind.
Still, it can trigger some allergic reactions, including skin rashes and asthma — particularly in people working around the plant like florists and farmers.
Goldenrod may also trigger reactions if you’re allergic to related plants, such as ragweed and marigolds (, ).
What’s more, orally taking the herb can cause an itchy skin rash — though this is rare ().
Additionally, the leaves of goldenrod are high in latex, a natural source of rubber. People allergic to latex — which is used in some medical exam gloves — may find that they’re also allergic to goldenrod ().
If you’re taking any medications or have a health condition, consult your healthcare provider before supplementing with goldenrod.
Since goldenrod may have a diuretic effect, you shouldn’t take it alongside prescription diuretic medication, as this may cause you to lose too much water.
The U.S.-based National Kidney Foundation advises that people with any stage of kidney disease, including those on dialysis or who have a kidney transplant, avoid goldenrod.
Additionally, goldenrod may cause your body to hold onto sodium, which may worsen high blood pressure ().
Lastly, avoid goldenrod if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, as data to show whether it’s safe under these conditions is lacking (19).
Summary Goldenrod is generally well tolerated, except in cases of allergy. Plus, people with medical conditions, such as kidney disease or certain heart conditions, as well as women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, should not take the herb.
Goldenrod has long been used in traditional medicine as an herbal tea or dietary supplement to treat inflammation and urinary conditions.
Preliminary test-tube and animal studies suggest that goldenrod may help these and other conditions, but few human studies have tested its benefits when used on its own.
Since research on goldenrod is limited, avoid using it in place of prescribed medication, and consult your doctor if you’re considering combining it with conventional therapies.
If you want to try goldenrod, you can find it as a tea, liquid extract, and pills in health stores and online.