Dandelion – Taraxacum officinale
As May rolls along dandelions are starting to bloom everywhere – leaving the ground sun-speckled. Even with the cooler weather we have had recently here in Iowa, they are one of the the first, with their bright yellow flowers, to announce that it is indeed spring.
Considered a dreaded weed by many, the lovely dandelion is one of our best medicines. Native to Europe and Asia, dandelions can now be found around the globe. Their tenaciousness has earned them both respect and wrath. In some cultures, the dandelions are believed to possess the spirit of fairies, which gives them their “supernatural” power to survive. No matter how often they are weeded, they soon reappear. And I must say-for this I am thankful.
Dandelion is wonderful spring medicine and is often one of the first things I harvest as the days get longer and warmer. All parts of the plant can be used for medicine and food. The young spring leaves are used as salad greens and the flowers are delicious when eaten in salads or battered and lightly fried in butter. The roots are tasty roasted and served as a coffee substitute. There is no end to the delicious recipes you can create with dandelion.
Medicinally, when you think of dandelion think “liver”. Dandelion is one of the most well know liver tonics. Chemicals found within the plant cause the gallbladder to contract and release bile, stimulating the liver to produce more. As such, it supports overall health by gently improving the function of the liver, gall bladder and urinary tract and helping the body to eliminate toxins and waste. It is wonderful for treating skin conditions, such as eczema and acne, urinary tract infections, PMS and menopause symptoms, as well as more chronic liver conditions such as hepatitis and jaundice.
The leaf is an excellent diuretic equal in strength to many pharmaceutical diuretics. However, unlike most diuretics that tend to deplete the body of potassium, dandelion contains high levels of potassium, making it a wonderfully balancing diuretic that is safe to use.
Dandelion is nutritious and high in minerals and vitamins, such as vitamin A, B, C and D. An infusion of the leaves combined with hibiscus and honey is an excellent natural “Gatorade” to balance the body’s electrolytes. Its slightly bitter taste aids digestion by stimulating the release of gastric juices and it has been found to reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol. The sap has historically been used to cure warts.. And of course there is always dandelion wine.
So this spring instead of trying to kill your dandelions – eat them and rejoice. You can never take too much; they will always come back. In the upcoming Green Pharmacy Class, held here at the Journey Health Shop, we will be making many wonderful concoctions with Dandelion. I hope you’ll join us in the class starting June 6th to learn more about this and other wonderful herbs that we live among.
Caution: Do not use if you have bile duct obstruction, acute gall bladder inflammation, or acute gastrointestinal issues.
Here's a great recipe using dandelion flowers.
1 cup uncooked rolled oats 1 cup flour 1 tbsp. baking powder 1 egg 1/4 c. honey 3 tbsp. melted butter 1 cup milk (or almond milk) 1-2 handfuls of dandelion “petals” 1 tbsp. freshly grated orange zest 1/4 tsp. salt
Harvest dandelion flower heads on a sunny day when they are open. Gently rinse and let dry. Remove the green sepals and bottoms and separate the dandelion “petals”. Place the yellow “petals” into a bowl and use while fresh.
In a bowl beat the egg; add honey and butter. Blend well and then beat in the milk. Stir in the oats and let the mixture rest for 1 or 2 minutes. Sift all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add to the milk mixture along with the dandelion petals and orange zest. Mix just enough to blend. Fill muffin cups half full. Bake 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees.
You can make this recipe gluten-free too. Just substitute your favorite gluten-free flour for the Spelt flour.
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Plants are powerful medicine. Please use them with respect and awareness. The information contained in this mailing is for educational purposes only and should not be used in place of diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care practitioner.