The Healthy Benefits of the Dandelion

 It's more important to know the person that has the disease then the disease that person has   Hippocrates 

This statement is worth repeating....again and again and again!  It's more important to know the person that has the disease then the disease that person has   Hippocrates 

This was my opener at my talk on the healthy benefits of the dandelion last week. Wouldn't it be great if our medical professionals were able to take the time to get to know us before they write that script? Well, the truth is it's  rare to find a doctor that can take that time with each of their patients. So my approach is to prevent disease from taking hold of us. 

Have you ever really looked at a dandelion bloom, it's like looking at the sun, so bright and giving. If we go deeper to learn how this tasty plant can support our health we'll learn it is packed with nourishment. Could this be why it is so abundant? Always trying to get our attention everywhere we go?  

BOTANICAL NAME;  Taraxacum officinale F. H. Wigg.1

Plant Family: Asteraceae; there are between 23-25k species known in this family

Taraxacum is derived from the Greek words ‘taraxos’ meaning disorder and ‘akos’ meaning remedy. 

I eat the blooms and leaves as I'm walking around in my yard. Of course, my lawn is clean from any type of harmful chemical sprays. Always know your source before eating or taking any herb. Also know if you are allergic.  

There are several ways to get the benefits of this all around good for you plant. I have a list at the end of this article. As you read on I have collected some good information on how our body uses the properties in the dandelion, a bit about it's history and useful ways for us to be supported by it. 

I hope you go out today and introduce yourself to our life supporting friend who I'm sure is sitting all around you with a big bright smile just waiting on your arrival! 

 Herbal Actions = Actions of a plant are how the body responds to the plant. Such as Hepatic, which works on the liver. This book has a good section on herbal actions. David Hoffman

The whole plant of the dandelion can be used; Choleretic = stimulates the flow of bile in gallbladder and liver, appetite stimulant, digestive bitter, cholagogue, and mild laxative actions, mild purgative, hepatic, tonic, lymphatic, alterative, demulcent= mucilage soothes and protects irritated or inflamed internal tissue. When used on the skin it is called an emollient. Diuretic, antirheumatic (muscular rheumatism)-root. *Mt Rose website andThe Herbal Handbook, David Hoffmann

Vitamins =  rich source of beta-carotene which we convert into Vit A. Vit C, Vit B complex, Vit D

Minerals = potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus.,organic sodium trace minerals.

Dandelion is a better source of protein then spinach!

 History/Folklore = Medicinal use of dandelion was first recorded in writing in the Tang Materia Medica (659 BEC). Later by Arab physicians in the 10th century. In the 13th century, it was mentioned in Welsh medicine, and has been used all over the worlds since. The root was enjoyed by pharmacists in Europe as a fresh juice, said to be less bitter, and referred to by its pharmaceutical name Succus Taraxaci.  Young dandelion leaves were traditionally eaten frequently in Europe, particularly France. In folk medicine all over Europe it was considered a reliable tonic which supported the digestive and urinary systems.

In the Us various Native American tribes considered dandelion to be a prized edible, a gastrointestinal aid, a cleansing alterative, and a helpful healing poultice or compress. The Bella Coola from Canada made decoctions of the roots to assuage stomach pain; the Algonquian ate the leaves for their alterative properties and also used them externally as a poultice. Additionally, the Aleut steamed the leaves and applied them topically to sore throats. The Cherokee believed the root to be an alterative as well and made tea of the plant, leaves and flowers, to calm the nerves. Further, they chewed the root to allay tooth pain; It is interesting to note that dandelion was used for pain relief by the Iroquois as well. They made a tea of the whole plant administering it for this purpose and also considered it to be an alterative tonic. In the southwestern US, in Spanish speaking communities practicing herbalism, dandelion called ‘chicoria’ or ‘deinted de leon’ was also considered a reliable blood purifier.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine TMC it is referred to as Xin Xiu Ben Cao or Pu Gong Ying and considered to be energetically sweet, drying and cooling. According to TCM, dandelion clears heat from the liver and has a beneficial effect on the stomach and lungs. It can uplift the mood and promote lactation.

The root was listed as official in the US National Formulary, in the pharmacopeias of Austria and Czech Republic, in the Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia and the British Herbal amongst others.

Cultivation/Harvesting = leaves are great any time but less bitter when young. Roots are higher in inulin in the fall and less bitter.

Flavor Notes/Energetics = Bitter, drying and cooling

Uses = It is an herb that is highly effective in strengthening and supporting the liver. It helps to balance the menstrual cycle as well. Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar strongly suggests this herb for bloating, pre-menstrual irritation, and for breast tenderness and says that it is invaluable to women going through menopause. The leaf can alleviate bloating by removing excess fluid from the system. The leaf contains potassium which is often lost through frequent urination. Dandelion roots benefit to the digestive tract is twofold as it contains inulin, which may support healthy bacteria in the intestines, and is also a bitter digestive tonic which tones the digestive system and stimulates the appetite. It calm heat and hot emotions, and is thus helpful in those that are irritated or nervous. *Mt Rose website

Works on the liver and gallbladder

Diuretic

Strengthens the urinary system

Incontinence and bed wetting, leaves are most effective for this

Reduce high blood pressure – diuretic, high cholesterol – high in fiber, pain of arteriosclerosis and joints – fiber reduces plaque, reduces swelling as a diuretic,  digestive problems – ferments in lg intestines, chronic illness – digestive system is healthier and elimination is cleaner, viral infections as an antimicrobial,  heart and lung irregularities.

Part of a natural cancer treatment, preventive especially breast cancer and other chronic illnesses by keeping the body clean, toned and healthy

Fresh flowers help with headaches

Gingivitis, gum disease – tincture or tea

Eczema, acne – stem, tea or tincture

Stimulates appetite in those who have lost their zest for food

*Backyard medicine

 Recipes = As the dandelion ages the leaves get more bitter.

Flowers dipped in flour and fried as croutons or snacks

Young leaves in fresh salads

Steamed young leaves, like you would spinach

Try using spices with them such as nutmeg, lemon peel, garlic, onion

I like to put the young leaves on a sandwich instead of or with lettuce

I also use the leaves in fresh green smoothies

Oil infused flowers can be used for salad dressings or for dry skin also used for age spots

Roasted roots for hot beverage

Sap/latex from stems are used to remove age spots, corns warts, bee stings, blisters

Allergic Reaction = There is lots of evidence of people actually being allergic to dandelion although I don’t know anyone who is. Would this be linked to hay fever? Symptoms could also include dermatitis.

If you have allergies to ragweed, marigold, chamomile, chrysanthemum, and daisy or are pregnant, nursing or taking prescriptions drugs be sure to talk to your doctor before eating.