Grindelia integrifolia – Gumweed
Gumweed – Grindelia integrifolia, G. squarrosa
Grindelia = after David Grindel (1717 – 83) German botanist;
integrifolia = L. “with entire leaves”‘
squarrosa = L. “rough”;
Identification: These biennial and perennial herbs grow from tap roots, have glandular leaves and gummy heads. The widely branching stems are 30 – 60 cm tall, often purplish; alternate, narrowly oblong to oblanceolate, serrulate to coarsely toothed but can be entire. The flower head is yellow, 2 – 3 cm wide. The flower and buds are covered in a milky, thick, balsam-smelling resin.
Distribution & Habitat: Found in dry, often saline prairies from Manitoba through to California.
Preparation & Uses: The resin is listed as being antispasmodic, diuretic, expectorant and sedative. It has most specifically been used for treating spasmodic respiration problems such as asthma, dry hacking coughs or whooping cough. Moore says it was sometimes combined with Yerba Santa. As a mild stomach tonic, it has been used for indigestion and colic.
For kidney and bladder problems, both tincture and tea have been used. A little brandy is usually added to the tea to dissolve the resin. Moore says it is specific for cystitis caused by fungi or food but not so good for “honeymoon” cystitis. He also states it is a mild cardiac relaxant though not all that reliable.
The Blackfoot Indians made a decoction of the dried ground root for liver problems and as a spring purge. Nevada Indians used small doses of the decoction during measles and smallpox epidemics. Gumweed is known to increase excretions.
Externally, fresh gumweed or fresh plant tincture can be applied as a wash for poison ivy/oak. It has also been used as a wash for burns, rashes, sores, wounds and the like. A poultice can be made of the herb and used for rheumatic joints, breaks, and wounds.