The medicinal power of grindelia or gum plant

This cheerfully flowering plant originates from California and is related to the Margriet. It is a winter-hardy plant that would not look out of place in many ornamental gardens. A tea can be made from the fresh or dried leaves. Grindelia is a medicinal plant in phytotherapy and homeopathy and is used to open the airways and to calm coughs. All medicinal uses originated from traditional use by the North American Indians. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Grindelias / Source: H. Zell, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)


  • Naming
  • History of use
  • Culinary use
  • Active substances
  • Grindelia, good for the respiratory tract
  • Grindelia for the heart
  • Dose and safety


In Latin this medicinal plant is called Grindelia camporum . In English it is called sticky gum plant because the plant is quite sticky. Dutch has an alternative name for the gum plant; you will understand why. If you divide the Latin name into individual words you get ‘Grind e lia camporum’ and that literally means: Grown from field quality. This refers to the fact that this plant can grow on different soils, both on poor sandy soils, where it thrives as it has few competitors, and on swampy forest soils.

History of use

Grindelia has traditionally been a medicinal herb. The Indians used it externally to treat rashes caused by poison ivy, a poisonous climbing plant. Respiratory problems were also treated with grindelia. A persistent cough can be combated with long-term use of this plant. Instead of Grindelia camporum, Grindelia squarrosa and Grindelia humilis are used for the same purpose. A decoction of the leaves was used by Indians as a remedy for diarrhea and stomach problems. The twigs were used for chewing; that would solve dental problems. A paste of the leaves was used to spread over the chest and to treat skin problems.

Culinary use

You can make a tea from the leaves, both fresh and dried. You can put the buds of the flowers in vinegar. You then get a kind of alternative to capers. You can chew the twigs; then thirst will last longer. Resin is extracted from the leaves and twigs. This resin is added to oil and keeps the oil fresh longer. The oil becomes rancid less quickly by adding this resin.

Active substances

Only the flowering tops of the gum plant are used. Most of the active substances of many medicinal plants are present in the plant just before or during flowering. The gum plant contains resin or resin with many diterpenic acids such as gravel acid and oxygrind acid. Furthermore, the sesquiterpene bitter substances such as grindeline, phenolic acids, polyalkynes, flavonols including acacetin, kumatakenin and quercetin, saponins, the essential oil borneol, tannins and phytosterols.

Grindelia, good for the respiratory tract

Grindelia or gum plant is a mild expectorant; a substance that loosens mucus. It has an excellent airway decongestant effect and has a cough-relieving effect on the airways. This effect is mainly due to the phenolic acids present, which have a mild antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect. Because of these medicinal properties, grindelia is used in phytotherapy for the following indications:

  • Cough,
  • Whooping cough,
  • Bronchitis,
  • Adjuvant for asthma and emphysema.

Grindelia or gum plant / Source: Jean Tosti, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

Grindelia for the heart

As far as heart disease is concerned, don’t take it lightly and experiment for yourself, but if you have mild problems, you could consider using Grindelia. Grindelia is recommended by some herbalists, homeopaths and herbalists for its antispasmodic effect on smooth muscles such as those of the blood vessels and the heart. This effect gives it medicinal properties for:

  • High bloodpressure,
  • Too fast heart rate.

Dose and safety

Below are three different uses of grindelia.

  • You should not use more than four to six grams of grindelia per day.
  • 30 drops of the mother tincture three times a day.
  • An infusion (tea) three times a day. Use a teaspoon of dried herb per cup of tea.

If you keep these therapeutic effects in mind, no side effects are possible. At high doses, irritation of the kidneys and stomach may occur. If the dose is too high, the liver can be damaged and liver inflammation can occur, which is potentially fatal. But again it must be said that this cannot happen if the therapeutic dose is maintained.