Dandelions, to the typical individual, is usually an eye sore. Something you painstakingly rid your lawn from so that they never sprout forth again. Little do these people know that the very plant they deem a weed, is actually something that could benefit their lives and strengthen their bodies. I too was one of these individuals not so many moons ago. When I realized how powerful these big yellow beauties were, I never saw them as a weed again. I saw them as the wondrous gift from nature that they truly are.
Dandelions: Taraxacum officinale
Every part of this plant is useful for both food and medicine. Dandelions are a perfect for detoxing after our long Winter slumber. It's good to pick and store so that you have it handy all year round.
According to Mountain Rose Herbs:
“Its leaves and root contain substantial levels of vitamins A, C, D, and B complex as well as iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese, copper, choline, calcium, boron, and silicon. In almost every herbal healing tradition, the root of the dandelion has been used for the treatment of a variety of liver and gallbladder problems.”
“Dandelions are through to correct the physiological reactions triggered by intense emotions that cause eyestrain or red, swollen, and painful eyes. They are used in teas and poultices for abscesses and sores, especially on the breast. They promote lactation and clear painful urinary dysfunction.”
“Typically used as tea or tincture. Chopped dandelion root rather than dandelion root powder is most often used to make teas combining dandelion and other herbs. Dandelion root powder is used when diuretic effect is emphasized. Chopped dandelion root can be combined with myrrh to make a poultice for boils and abscesses, with honeysuckle flowers to make a tea to be drunk to treat boils and abscesses, with skullcap and/or chrysanthemum flowers to make a tea to be drunk to treat sore eyes, or with heal-all to treat hard phlegm in bronchitis. Can also be administered in capsule or extract form for convenience.”
Digestive Aid – Dandelion acts as a mild laxative that promotes digestion, stimulates appetite, and balances the natural and beneficial bacteria in the intestines.
Kidney – This weed-like superfood is a diuretic that helps the kidneys clear out waste, salt, and excess water. This inhibits microbial growth in the urinary system too.
Liver – Dandelion has been shown to improve liver function by removing toxins and reestablishing hydration and electrolyte balance.
Antioxidants – Every part of the dandelion plant is rich in antioxidants that prevent free-radical damage to cells and DNA, slowing down the aging process in our cells.
Cancer – Dandelion acts against cancer to slow its growth and prevent its spread. The leaves are especially rich in the antioxidants and phytonutrients that combat cancer.
Diabetes – Recent animal studies show promise that dandelion helps regulate blood sugar and insulin levels.
High Blood Pressure – As a diuretic dandelion increases urination which then lowers blood pressure. The fiber and potassium in dandelion also regulate blood pressure.
Cholesterol – Animal studies have shown that dandelion lowers and control cholesterol levels.
Gallbladder – Dandelion increases bile production and reduces inflammation to help with gallbladder problems and blockages.
Inflammation – Dandelion contains essential fatty acids and phytonutrients that reduce inflammation throughout the body. This can relieve pain and swelling.
Immune System – Animal studies also show that dandelion boosts immune function and fights off microbes and fungi.
Are there any negative side effects to dandelions?
Until today I wouldn't have thought so. That's because they don't have an effect on me or my family. After reading this blog post, however, I feel its responsible to include it into the body of this article:
Dangers of Dandelion Tea
You don't have to forage too far for dandelions, flower heads, leaves and roots.
This time I just asked the kids to pick the heads for me. Dandelions are everywhere and are an absolute bounty in our yard. As long as there's no spraying going on you can pick where they lie. We're lucky as none of our neighbours spray their lawns. A couple of them actually offered up their weeds to our family. Some may think we're a bit odd, but truly most are happy to offer us what they don't use.
You also don't want to pick any too close to the roads due to the exhaust from vehicles. Pick from somewhere you trust.
If you're looking for the root I suggest getting your hands on a bulb planting tool that makes a deep hole.
This makes sure you get as much of the root as possible without wasting any. I take my roots, soak them in water and scrub them with a soft brush until clean.
You can dehydrate them or dry them on the lowest setting in your oven, checking them often to make sure they don't get over-baked. Once the roots are dried out you can store them in an airtight container. I keep my dandelion roots in canning jars. I actually keep all my dried stores in canning jars!
You can eat the leaves freshly washed and you can try them as well. If you wish you could freeze them. Personally I prefer the fresh and dried methods. Whether adding to a smoothie, soup, tea, stir-fry or salad, you can't go wrong with these greens.
The flower heads can also be dried for teas and they taste slightly like chamomile with a hint of apple. The fact that this flower tea is also an antioxidant so flavour plus the medicinal aspects make this tea a win/win.
Dandelion is used for loss of appetite, upset stomach, intestinal gas, gallstones, joint pain, muscle aches, eczema, and bruises. Dandelion is also used to increase urine production and as a laxative to increase bowel movements. It is also used as skin-toner, blood tonic, and digestive tonic.
Some people use dandelion to treat infection, especially viral infections, and cancer.
In foods, dandelion is used as salad greens, and in soups, wine, and teas. The roasted root is used as a coffee substitute.
What do I make?
Stay tuned friends! In the next couple of days I'll have some of my favorite dandelion recipes to share with you. Easy, cost-effective, homemade, wild-crafted and healthy recipes to cure what ails you. Some of these recipes were passed down from friends, some were found on websites and one is my own.
Until then, go out and pick some dandelions! Pour some hot water over the dandelion heads and make yourself a cup of tea.
I'm located in the Niagara Region of Southern Ontario, Canada.
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Your medicine is in the woods.
Your pharmacy is in your kitchen.