A Sinus Formula for Allergies, Colds, and Flu
Written and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor
This blend is helpful as an internal remedy for sinus congestion due to seasonal allergies, head colds, or sinus infections. It is very drying and decongesting, and therefore isn’t the best remedy for the beginning stages of a cold when runny mucus can actually help expel pesky viruses. Instead, use during the latter stages of an infection when the mucus is thick and yellow-green in color.
The herbs can be taken in tea form, instead of tincture, but the tea will be unpalatable to some because of its astringency and bitter flavor. For people who run dry, add marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) and licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) root to the formula. Licorice is contraindicated in pregnancy, water retention, heart conditions, and high blood pressure.
- 2 parts tincture goldenrod flower and leaves (Solidago spp.)
- 2 parts tincture elderflower (Sambucus canadensis)
- 1 part tincture yarrow flower (Achillea millefolium)
- 1 part tincture nettles leaf (Urtica dioica)
Combine all the tinctures, using the above proportions. For a larger batch (yielding 8 ounces, or 240 ml), use 1 ounce (30 ml) of tincture as 1 part. This means that you would use 1 ounce (30 ml) each of yarrow and nettles to 2 ounces (60 ml) each of goldenrod and elder. For a smaller batch (yielding 1.4 ounces, or 40 ml), use 5 ml as 1 part. In this case, you would add 5 ml each of yarrow and nettles and 10 ml each of goldenrod and elder. You’ll need a glass beaker for the smaller measurements.
Use fresh plant tinctures if possible (1:2 95%), but you can substitute dried tinctures as needed. Combine all tinctures and store in a glass dispensing bottle. Dosage is 4 ml (⅘ of a teaspoon) three times a day.
Safety and Contraindications: Do not use in pregnancy. Although rare, goldenrod has caused allergic contact dermatitis after both handling and oral administration.1 Those with Asteraceae allergies should exercise caution with goldenrod. If you are harvesting your own goldenrod, be sure to gather only true Solidago species because there are deadly look-alikes (please see my in-depth article on goldenrod for details).
Herbs for Sinus Congestion:
Co-Starring Herbal Featurettes
Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)
Among its many uses, goldenrod is a premier decongestant, effectively alleviating upper respiratory congestion stemming from allergies, sinusitis, flu, and the common cold. It can be taken as a tea, syrup, or tincture for this purpose. In my experience, it is one of the strongest herbs for drying the sinuses.
Please see the above description of goldenrod’s Safety and Contraindications, and visit my article on goldenrod's medicinal uses for even more information.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Yarrow’s antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory actions make it valuable for resolving infections, clearing sinus congestion, and bringing comfort to painful symptoms. Yarrow’s flowers can be used in tea or tincture form as a decongestant for seasonal or environmental allergies, and as a classic cold and flu remedy.
Safety and Contraindications: Do not use internally during pregnancy, although external use is completely safe. Internally and externally, yarrow may cause side effects (contact dermatitis, photosensitivity, and allergic reactions) for those with Asteraceae sensitivity (although reactions are very rare).
Elderflower (Sambucus nigra)
Elderflowers are the blooms of the familiar elderberry shrub. The flowers, like the berries, are well-known for their antiviral properties and are healing for the upper respiratory system. Rich in tannins and volatile oils, they effectively dry up excessive mucus and help it flow more freely from the sinuses, alleviating stuffy nose, headache, and earache. As well, their flavonoid compounds are anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-stimulating.
An infusion of elderflowers is also beneficial for alleviating congestion in head colds, sinus infections, and allergic rhinitis.
Safety and Contraindications: No known precautions.
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)
Deep green nettle leaves are anti-inflammatory and drying to the sinuses, and are thus a helpful remedy for congestion. They also possess antihistamine properties and are a classic herb for the prevention and relief of allergies.
Safety and Contraindications: Although nettles is generally safe with relatively few cautions, there are a few things to look out for. Because it is a diuretic and astringent, it can be very drying as a tonic herb for folks who already have dry skin and dry mucous membranes. Additionally, its diuretic effects may compound pharmaceuticals with the same action, such as diuretic antihypertensive medications.
Ready for the full scoop on goldenrod? We share all about identifying, growing, gathering, and using this sun-bright wildflower here.
- Mills, S., and Bone, K. The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety (Elsevier Health Sciences, 2005).
Meet the Green Mastermind Behind Blog Castanea:
JULIET BLANKESPOOR is the founder, primary instructor, and Creative Director of the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine, an online school serving thousands of students from around the globe. She's a professional plant-human matchmaker and bonafide plant geek, with a degree in botany and over 30 years of experience teaching and writing about herbalism, medicine making, and organic herb cultivation. Juliet’s lifelong captivation with medicinal weeds and herb gardening has birthed many botanical enterprises over the decades, including an herbal nursery and a farm-to-apothecary herbal products business.
These days, she channels her botanical obsession through her writing and photography in her online programs, on her personal blog Castanea, and in her new book, The Healing Garden: Cultivating and Handcrafting Herbal Remedies. Juliet and her family reside in a home overrun with houseplants and books in Asheville, North Carolina.
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Looking for more blog articles about goldenrod?
Check out our golden guide to gathering, growing, and using fall’s most iconic wildflower.
20 thoughts on “Goldenrod Tincture: A Sinus Formula for Allergies, Colds, and Flu”
Could you point out where the recipe for the Meadowsweet and goldenrod naturally fermented homemade soda is as I cannot see it in your article. Thanks.
Sarah Sorci says:
Thanks for letting us know that this fermented soda recipe is missing, Claudia! I’m checking with teammates for a recipe to share and I’ll reply again when I have more info.
Sarah Sorci says:
I wasn’t able to locate a recipe made specifically with meadowsweet and goldenrod, but there are lots of fermented soda recipes online that encourage you to substitute in whatever herbs you wish. Here’s a nice recipe from Milk and Honey Herbs where goldenrod and/or meadowsheet could be utilized in place of tulsi. Enjoy!
Thanks. will try and greetings from the Netherlands
Gwen Scott says:
If you add the licorice and marshmallow to the blend for dryness how many parts of each do add.
Sarah Sorci says:
Using the ratios in this post’s recipe, I would start by adding half a part to 1 part marshmallow root (or 1-2 parts marshmallow leaf) to the tea blend version of this recipe, and then adjust if more or less soothing mucilage is desired.
Since licorice root is traditionally used in small amounts as a formula balancer, is quite sweet, and can raise blood pressure when used in higher quantities, I would add a small amount of licorice (less than 5% of the tea blend).
I have a lot of dried nettle and elderflower. Can I combine those two herbs overnight in a medicinal infusion, and then add the goldenrod, yarrow and marshmallow root tinctures? If so, how many cups of the infusion/tincture blend should I have every day?
thanks very much!
Sarah Sorci says:
In this article, Juliet notes that it would be fine to prepare the suggested tincture formula as a tea, and preparing half as a tea and half as a tincture would work well, too. Since marshmallow’s mucilage is water-soluble, I would add this herb to the tea component of the protocol.
With the tincture formula (2 parts goldenrod, 2 parts elderflower, 1 part yarrow flower, and 1 part nettle leaf) Juliet recommends 4 mL (4/5 teaspoon) 3 times daily. If I were removing the elderflower and nettle from the tincture to make tea instead, I would prepare three cups of tea each day using the instructions in Juliet’s Infusions and Decoctions article, and take 2 mL (instead of 4 mL) of the tincture 3 times a day as a starting point.
Caroline Cutroneo says:
Thank you very much, Sarah!
Is it possible to combine all fresh herbs together to make 1 tincture, rather than make all the tinctures separately & combine them afterwards???
Sarah Sorci says:
Some folks do prefer to mix all the herbs for a formula together when they make the tincture. Feel free to give that a try! Since I like to be able to mix-and-match more freely when formulating, I tend to make tinctures with just one herb and blend smaller amounts of formulas from there.
Thank you so much Sara!
Is the goldenrod Solidago Candensis?
Sarah Sorci says:
Here is a note from “Goldenrod Benefits: The Bee’s Knees for Allergies, Sinus Infections, and Urinary Tract Infections” on Blog Castanea:
“Any goldenrod species can be used medicinally, and identification to the species level is not essential—this is welcome news, as they readily hybridize and are generally considered difficult to identify to species. However, make sure you have properly identified your species as a true goldenrod in the Solidago genus! Proper identification to genus is crucial as there are yellow-flowered aster family members that are deadly toxic…If you have multiple species growing in your region, get to know their nuances by tasting and smelling the leaves (after you’ve properly identified the plant to be goldenrod!). Some varieties are more bitter, others more astringent, and some specialize in resinous flavors. Sweet goldenrod (S. odora) possesses honeyed hints of anise or licorice and is a prized beverage tea.”
You can find that article here if you’d like to learn more: https://chestnutherbs.com/goldenrod/
Thank you for your reply! I have started taking the goldenrod while I wait on the others to arrive and I feel better than I have in years! (Chronic sinusitis)
Is this formula something that can be taken routinely?
Sarah Sorci says:
I’m happy to hear you’re getting along with goldenrod so well, Shannon! In addition to the “Safety and Contraindications” notes about goldenrod in this post, here is one more note from “Goldenrod Benefits: The Bee’s Knees for Allergies, Sinus Infections, and Urinary Tract Infections”:
“Goldenrod can be overly drying as a beverage or tonic tea for people with a dry constitution, as it is diuretic, astringent, and decongestant. Short-term usage shouldn’t be a problem.”
I can locate all these tinctures except the goldenrod. Can you guide me to a place to buy that one? My sinuses have given me misery for years.
Sarah Sorci says:
Hi Shannon! Herb Pharm sells a goldenrod tincture, which you can purchase on their website: http://www.herb-pharm.com/product/goldenrod/
Chloe Hooton says:
I love this! Thank you. What’s the suggested dosage of this tincture?
Christine Borosh says:
The suggested dosage for this tincture is 4 ml (about 4/5 of a teaspoon), three times a day.