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Herbal Monograph

Herb:   GRINDELIA LEAF   (Grindelia Camporum, et al.)

Other Names:  gumweed, August flower, rosin weed, tar weed   (2);  gumplant   (15)

Character/Energetics:   Bitter, pungent, warm  (6);  bitter, pungent, aromatic   (38)

Meridians/Organs/Body affected: lungs, kidneys   (6)

Part used:  Flowering branches, dried tops and leaves of G. robusta and/or squarrosa gathered during flowering season.   (2)

Identification & Harvesting:   An erect biennial or perennial small bush up to 1 m. high, often branched above;  alternate leaves 1-2″ long, triangular or ovate, clasping, resinous, serrated.  Found in SW U.S. or Mexico.   (2)

Native to, but not plentiful in, coastal areas of California.   (13)

Young flowers and buds are covered in a thick, milky exudate that smells balsamic, a device that insures pollination if insects fail.  Found at elevations of 3000-8000 ft., from Arizona and New Mexico north to Wyoming.  Harvest flowers when first in bloom, leaves before blooming.  For tincturing, flowers are preferable.  An undecorative plant at best;  if you cultivate, throw the seeds out into the worst soil you can find and then disavow them when they sprout.   (24)

G. camporum an annual or short-lived perennial, hardy to 23F (-5C), oblong, toothed, resinous leaves up to 3″ long, resinous yellow daisy-like flowers about 2″ diameter in late summer.  All parts have a balsamic scent.  Found in arid climes.  Thrives in well-drained soil in direct sun.  Sow seeds in early spring at 60-65F (16-19C), or by semi-ripe cuttings in late summer.  Harvest cutting when plant is in full bloom.   (38)

Active Constituents:   Diterpene acids:  grindelic acid, hydroxygrindelic acid, 6-oxogrindelic acid, 7alpha,8alpha-epoxygrindelic acid.  Volatile oils:  incl. borneol.  Polyynes:  incl. matricarianol, matricarianolacetate.  Saponins, tannins.   (2)

Up to 21% amorphous resins, tannins, laevoglucose and volatile oils   (6)

Actions:   Demonstrated antibacterial effects.   (2)

Expectorant, antispasmodic, sedative, demulcent.  Small doses are thought to lower the heart    rate.   (6)

Antispasmodic, hypotensive;  acts to relax smooth muscles and heart muscles. This helps to       explain its use in treatment of asthma and bronchial conditions.   (8)

Small doses slow the heartbeat.   (13); antispasmodic and expectorant   (15)

Expectorant and sedative, with an action resembling atropine.   (34)

Anti-inflammatory, expectorant, antispasmodic, sedative.   (38)

Reduces violence and frequency of asthma paroxysm.   (57)

Conditions & Uses:  Used for catarrh of upper respiratory tract.   (2

Colds, nasal congestion, bronchial irritation, coughs incl. spasmodic and whooping coughs, asthma.  Used externally for burns, rashes, blisters, poison oak and poison ivy dermatitis.   (6)

Acts to relax smooth muscles and heart muscles.  This helps to explain its use in treatment of asthma and bronchial conditions.   (8)

Tincture especially useful for bladder and UT infections, 1-2 ml every four hours.   (24)

Used externally for poison ivy rash, dermatitis, eczema, skin eruptions.  Used internally for bronchitis, whooping cough, asthma, cystitis.   (38)

Combinations:   Usually combined with yerba santa as a syrup.   (6)

Can be combined with other antispasmodics such as pill-bearing spurge, or with other expectorants and lung tonics like cowslip or elecampane.   (15)

Combine with Lobelia (inflata), licorice, pill-bearing spurge, elecampane or cowslip for bronchial complaints.  Cayuga Botanicals R.D. Note — [Licorice considered incompatible with spurge in traditional Chinese medicine.]   (38)

Precautions:   No recorded health risks with designated dosages.   Possible gastric irritation and diarrhea side effects.  Large doses poisonous.   (2)

The plant may take up selenium compounds from the soil and store them.  This makes large doses mildly toxic.  Its high resin content is hard on the kidneys and therefore it should be used only for acute treatments.   (6)

Tends to take up selenium compounds from soil and store them, and large doses can be poisonous.   (13)

Reduces blood pressure;  avoid if you have low blood pressure.  High doses can irritate kidneys.(15)

Tincturing Process: Vita Mix: (Speed 5) Place 4 heaping ladles of grindelia in VM container. Process 75        seconds. 1 lb grindelia apportions well in (1) 1-qt mason jar and (1) 24-oz mason jar.        Alcohol: 70%.   (1a) 

GRINDELIA LEAF   (Grindelia Camporum, et al.)

Applications:   A fomentation may be applied to affected areas a few times a day.  Infuse 1 tsp of the flowering tops and leaves in a cup of boiling water covered until cool enough to drink.  Or take 5-30 drops tincture.   (6)

A fluid extract, diluted with 6-10 parts water, can be applied to poison ivy rash:  soak a clean bandage, keep it moist, change it often.  To make an infusion, steep 1 tsp dried leaves or flowering tops in 1 c. boiling water and drink 1 c./day.   (13)

Tincture especially useful for bladder and UT infections, 1-2 ml every four hours.   (24)


Dosage:   tincture:  1.5 – 3 ml.  Powder:  4-6 g.   (2)

General Notes:   Documented use for poison ivy rash;  listed US Pharmacopoeia 1882-1926 and in US National Formulary 1926-1960.



(1a) Cayuga Botanicals “Grindelia Tincture” file

(2)  PDR for Herbal Medicines (Medical Economics Co., 1998), pgs. 882-83

(6)  Planetary Herbology by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., p. 382

(8)  The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman, p. 205

(13) The Herb Book by John Lust, p. 214

(15) The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody, pgs. 138-39

(24) Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West by Michael Moore, pgs. 80-82

(34) A Modern Herbal (Vol. 1 A-H) by Mrs. M. Grieve, pgs. 376-77

(38) Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses by Deni Bown, p. 290

(57) Potter’s Cyclopaedia by R.C. Wren, F.L.S., p. 158


PHOTO: Wikipedia