The first line of a little-known song asks the question, “How many dandelions will grow this year?” In fact, in some parts of North America, the hills are yellow with dandelion blooms in the spring. Most are ignored or poisoned as a nuisance. If we had known what this article will reveal, we could have collected them instead of treating them as a curse.
The name dandelion comes from the French phrase ‘dent de lion’, which means ‘dandelion’. This refers to the serrated leaves of this herb. The fancier scientific name is Taraxacum officinale. Unlike the calendula (calendula), which is not the same annual flower found in American gardens, the dandelion, the grass, is exactly what you think grows in your garden or on a hillside. What makes this common herb so good?
The entire dandelion plant is useful. The roots can be eaten as a vegetable or roasted and ground to make a type of root “coffee.” A quick look through the Internet reveals that the flowers are used to make wine, in cooking (dandelion flower cookies?), a syrup, jam, and an oil to rub on sore joints. But leaves have the most diverse list of uses.
First, dandelion leaf is an excellent source of sodium, iron, vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, and especially calcium. Dandelion could have been one of the “bitter herbs” mentioned in the Bible. The leaves add a bitter flavor to salads or can be cooked like spinach. The best leaves are the bright green ones that appear before the dandelion blooms in the spring.
One of dandelion leaf’s biggest claims to fame is its ability to purify the blood and organs of the body. It is a wonderful liver cleanser and increases liver production, the flow of bile to the intestines, and the activity of the pancreas and spleen. This makes it an excellent treatment for hepatitis, yellow jaundice, and other liver-related problems. By purifying the blood, it helps in some types of anemia. Acids in the blood that build up with weight loss are destroyed by dandelion. It also helps with lower blood pressure and increases energy and stamina.
Dandelion is good for the female organs. It enriches breast milk in lactating mothers and this, in turn, benefits both mother and child. It is good for women before, during and after pregnancy. Women who suffer from PMS may find that dandelion’s diuretic action helps relieve some of the symptoms. In short, dandelion is safe and healthy for men, women, children, and even animals.
Dandelion flowers are an excellent source of lecithin, a nutrient that raises acetylcholine in the brain. As a result, it can help slow or stop the regression of mental ability caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Lecithin also helps the body maintain good liver function as mentioned above. Dandelion also opens up the urinary tract as part of its cleansing job.
Native Americans used it to treat kidney disease, indigestion, and heartburn. Traditional Chinese medicine uses dandelion to treat upper respiratory tract infections, including bronchitis and pneumonia.
Dandelion leaves and flowers are best when they are freshly cut. If this is not possible, the leaves can be refrigerated for up to five days wrapped in a plastic bag. Be sure to wash the leaves well before using them. The leaves can also be frozen for longer periods of time. You can also dry the flowers and leaves yourself and store them in a cool, dry, dark place. Use them in the bath to treat fungal infections or to make your own dandelion tea (steep about 1 tablespoon of dried leaves in 1 cup of hot water). Dandelion can also be purchased in capsules, tinctures, and powder.
Dandelion is generally considered safe, but some people report allergic or asthmatic reactions to this herb, especially those with allergies to ragweed or daisies. Traditionally, dandelion is not recommended for patients with liver or gallbladder disease, but some believe this advice is wrong.