The plant known as the grindelia is commonly called the “gum plant” in North America. This plant is a perennial herb that can grow to three ft - one meter - when fully mature. The herb is characterized by possessing triangular leaves and yellow orange flowers that resemble the flowers of the daisy in appearance.
The Native American peoples utilized remedies made from the grindelia herb to treat bronchial problems as well as skin afflictions of all kinds, including allergic reactions to the poison ivy plant. The real effectiveness and medicinal value of this plant was not recognized by the orthodox practitioners of medicine in the US till the middle of the 19th century - after which it came into prominence as a major therapeutic and medicinal herb. Official recognition of the grindelia came with the introduction of the herb in the Pharmacopoeia of the United States from 1882 to about 1926. Modern herbalists still prescribe the herb as a major remedy in treating some types of disorders.
Leaves, flowering tops.
The remedy made from grindelia is considered to be valuable in dealing with cases of bronchial asthma. It is also effective in treating respiratory impediments caused by phlegm induced obstruction in the airways. The grindelia is considered to posses strong anti-spasmodic as well as expectorant actions. The remedy made from the grindelia brings a relaxing effect on the muscles lining the smaller bronchial passages and helps in clearing congesting mucus in the respiratory passages on the pulmonary system. The herbal grindelia remedy is also additionally believed to desensitize the nerve endings found in the bronchial tree and in helping slow the heart beat rate - this action leads to easier breathing for the affected individual. Remedies made from the grindelia are also used in treating chronic bronchitis and disorders like emphysema. The herbal remedy effectively clears up the accumulated mucus in the throat and the nose of the person affected by respiratory illness. Problems and disorders such as whooping cough, hay fever, and cystitis have also been treated using the grindelia remedy. The speed of healing in the skin following physical irritation and burns is also boosted by topical application of a poultice made from the grindelia herb.
The use of the grindelia herb can produce some side effects, which is the reason for it being contraindicated for some patients affected by specific disorders in the kidney or the heart. Different parts of the grindelia plant have different properties, dried leaves and the flowering tops possess anti-spasmodic as well as anti-asthmatic effects. The compounds present in these parts of the herb also induce an anti-inflammatory action, as well as being expectorant and sedative in action. Grindelia is primarily used as a herbal treatment for bronchial catarrh, particularly if there is an asthmatic tendency evident in the person. Grindelia based active compounds are excreted via the kidneys, a side effect is that this excretion can at times induce signs of renal irritation in the person using the herb. The grindelia is also used as a topical remedy for the treatment of many disorders, including the treatment of burns, the treatment of poison ivy rash, the treatment of disorders such as dermatitis, eczema and a variety of skin eruptions. Harvesting of the grindelia plant is usually carried out when the entire crop is in full bloom during the summer months. The herb can be used fresh ground into an herbal poultice for topical problems. The dried herb is also used for preparing herbal infusions, tincture and other remedies. The leaves and the flowering stems of the grindelia are the parts used in the preparation of the homeopathic remedy.
Habitat and cultivation
The grindelia is indigenous to the southwestern region of the United States and is also found in certain parts of Mexico. The normal time of harvest of grindelia is when the plants are in full bloom, typically late in the summer.
The grindelia is a hardy plant; it can easily grow with great success in most well drained soils with good exposure to full sunlight. The grindelia is persistent and can grow even on soils with poor nutrient content such as dry sandy banks along rivers and streams. The grindelia does not tolerate cold temperatures very well, and is absent from the colder areas of the United States. The range of temperatures tolerated by the herb range down to between -5°C and -10°C in the winter - anything colder than this can result in the death of the plant. A persistent balsamic odor can be detected from all parts of the grindelia plant.
Grindelia plants are propagated using stocked seeds from previous years. These seeds must be sown during the fall or in the spring inside a cool greenhouse. Once sown, the seeds must only be slightly covered with soil in the seedbed to allow for optimal germination. Once the seedlings emerge and turn large enough to handle by hand, each individual seedling can be pricked out into individual pots and planted out into the permanent sites early in the summer for optimum growth and development of the seedlings.
Herbal infusion: this form of grindelia remedy is prepared by steeping a teaspoonful of the dried herb in a cup of boiling water. The herb must be allowed to infuse into the water for ten to fifteen minutes at a stretch. A cup of this herbal infusion can be drunk thrice daily as a remedy for various disorders.
Collection and harvesting
Harvest of the aerial parts of the grindelia herb is carried out before the opening of the flower buds in spring. Collected plants are subjected to sun drying immediately and stored for later use in different herbal preparations.
Grindelia can also be used in combination herbal treatments of asthmatic conditions, by coming it with other beneficial herbs such as the lobelia and the pill-bearing spurge. This combination remedy is very effective in dealing with asthmatic conditions.