If you’re like most, you’re thinking of the dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is limited to just another pesty weed that you have to worry about popping up in your front lawn.
You may be surprised to know that Dandelions, Dandelion Root and even Dandelion Leaves have healing properties that many consider a “Superfood,” and rightly so.
All parts of the plant are edible and very nutritious. Dandelions grow in all continents of the world and can be found all year round, but if you’re unable to grow your own dandelions there are plenty of highly nutritious alternatives.
According to The How to Herb Book, Dandelions can help improve a variety of health conditions.
There’s evidence that Dandelion leaves are proven as an antioxidant that also lowers blood sugar, but it may also be useful in treating jaundice, cirrhosis, edema, gout, eczema, and acne.
Dandelion leaves can be eaten raw in salad and in sandwiches, used as a garnish, and as an ingredient for green smoothies, or they can be cooked as greens.
The leaves taste slightly bitter but it is easy to get used to their flavor or they can be blanched which will help remove the bitterness.
The dandelion’s leaves nutritional value is high because they are a natural source of vitamins A and C, as well as minerals such as iron, calcium, manganese and potassium. Botanical.com informs us of additional benefits of dandelion leaves:
The dried Dandelion leaves are also employed as an ingredient in many digestive or diet drinks and herb beers. Dandelion Beer is a rustic fermented drink common in many parts of the country and made also in Canada.”
Not only do dandelion flowers contain the vitamins and minerals found in the leaves, but they’re also a good source of beta-carotene too, and are high in antioxidant properties.
However, if gathering them be careful not to collect them from anywhere where pesticides or herbicides may have been sprayed and do not gather them near roads where traffic fumes are a problem.
Dandelion flowers can be eaten raw too, just like the leaves, and they make a very colorful addition to salads.
The dandelion root is another useful part of the plant because it can be used to make dandelion root tea or non caffeinated dandelion coffee.
The roots should be washed and dried thoroughly, preferably in the sun. After drying the roots are roasted and then ground up to make a good coffee substitute.
Our favorite organic coffee substitute is Dandy Blend. Dandy Blend, which can be purchased from online stores like amazon, contains no caffeine, unlike ordinary coffee that has not been decaffeinated.
Dandelion uses in herbal medicine
The dandelion has lots of medicinal properties and is a very useful in herbal medicine.
It is a diuretic and is helpful with any conditions, such as high blood pressure, which improve with increased urination by the body.
Herbalists use the dandelion to treat liver, gallbladder and kidney problems. The herb is employed as an aid to detoxification of the body.
Dandelions are also used in the treatment of diabetes, anemia, constipation, skin care and to help promote good bone health. The dandelion is regarded as being useful in helping weight loss. This is due to its ability to increase urination and remove fluid from the body.
As a food source, dandelion flowers and leaves make a good source of fiber, so are of benefit to a healthy digestive system. Fresh and dried dandelion has also been used to help stimulate appetite.
Many cultures worldwide have used dandelions for the herb’s healing potential. The University of Maryland Medical Center informs us that the “Native Americans also boiled dandelion in water and took it to treat kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and upset stomach.
In traditional Chinese medicine, dandelion has been used to treat stomach problems, appendicitis, and breast problems, such as inflammation or lack of milk flow.”
It should be easy to find dandelions growing wild in most parts of the world but if this cannot be done the herb is readily available from suppliers of herbal products and health stores.
It is sold in the form of dandelion herbal tea, dandelion coffee, dandelion tincture, dandelion tablets and capsules, as well as being combined with other dietary supplements.
While dandelions are generally regarded as safe for consumption, some people have an allergy to them.
There are a number of precautions to be observed if you intend using dandelions as an herbal medicine.
The diuretic properties of the dandelion may interfere with the action of prescribed medications, so it is wise to inform your doctor if taking the herb and receiving a course of prescribed drugs.
Dandelions in popular culture
Dandelion “clocks’ are popular with children who blow the seeds away to see what time the dandelion says it is.
The dandelion flower is the emblem of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, where the citizens celebrate a “Dandelion Festival” every spring.
The dandelion is also the official flower of the University of Rochester.
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