People spray on the lawn to weed, while others use it to cure various diseases on the body. What could it be? Well, of course, dandelion!
Whether you want to eat vegetables or juice green vegetables, indulge in honey-flavored flowers or steep some dandelion root tea, this herb is pure magic!
The health benefits of dandelion include bone and skin health, which helps treat liver and urinary diseases, acne, jaundice, diabetes, cancer and anemia.
The only problem is that most people are killing plants that may help them. Dandelions are not annoying weeds and you should make the most of them!
Dandelions Are Not Weeds
Only in the twentieth century did humans decide that the dandelion was a weed. Before the invention of perfectly manicured lawns, dandelions were more less praised as a natural medicine, food source and out-right magic. Back in the day, grass was dug out to make room for the dandelions – just imagine!
According to the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, “The use of dandelion in the art of rehabilitation goes back a long time, and its history is like capturing dandelion seeds while they are floating on the grass. Thousands of years In the past, dandelion supplements have been used to help the body’s filters and the liver to remove toxins from the blood. In the past, dandelion was prescribed for every disease from wart to plague.
So far, Chinese medicine has praised dandelion as an ideal Botanicals: It’s a mild diuretic that provides nutrition and helps the digestive system to its full potential. ”
Dandelions are also good for your lawn. Their roots penetrate hard soil and help aerate the soil and reduce erosion. Their deep roots absorb calcium and other nutrients from deep in the soil, making them useful for other plants. These nutrients actually help fertile soil and improve the quality of grass and other surrounding plants.
The less we pay attention to dandelion as a “weed”, the more we can understand the true meaning of this plant-a natural medicine that can actually help treat many of the diseases we see today.
Top 10 Health Benefits of Dandelion
Dandelions are a green and growing first aid kit! Their ability to heal and nourish the body from the inside out make them one plant you definitely do not want to get rid of this summer. There’s a reason dried dandelion root is so expensive.
If you don’t have access to dandelion or can’t find any clean sources (steer clear of dandelion from sprayed lawns), you can always order your own dandelion seeds and grow them yourself!
Here are 10 of the most important health benefits of dandelion:
Dandelions are calcium-rich, which is the main element required for the growth of strong, healthy bones. They are also high in antioxidants like Luteolin and Vitamin C, which protect from loss of bone density and bone weakening (1).
One of the greatest benefits of dandelion is how it nourishing and healing the liver. Dandelion has been shown to improve hepatic function by detoxifying the liver and reestablishing hydration and electrolyte balance. It also increases the production and release of bile. One of the greatest benefits of dandelion is it’s effect on our liver.
A laboratory study on mice showed this medicinal plant’s ability to slow down the progress of carbon tetrachloride-induced liver fibrosis or scarring.
Dandelion helps stimulate the pancreas to produce insulin and helps regulate blood sugar levels. It is also a natural diuretic and therefore promotes urination. What does this have to do with diabetes? It helps remove excess sugar and salt from the body and reduces the accumulation of sugar in the kidneys (thus helping reduce the risk of kidney disease in people with diabetes).
As mentioned above, dandelions are a great natural diuretic, and so they help eliminate toxic build-up in the kidneys and urinary tract. The anti-microbial properties of dandelion also prevent bacterial growth in the urinary system, which is great for individuals suffering from recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Dandelion is an excellent detoxifier and antioxidant, making it one of the best herbal remedies for treating acne and other skin problems like psoriasis and eczema. It helps purify the blood, and improves liver function, both of which result in beautiful, glowing skin. The major chlorophyll content in dandelion greens is also a win-win for skin health.
Another important use for dandelion is its powerful effects against cancer. Many studies have found that dandelion root extract is effective in the treatment against leukaemia and breast cancer. It acts by inducing apoptosis in leukaemia cells, while leaving healthy cells alone. It also has a positive impact against cancer cells that are resistant to chemotherapy.
A 2011 Canadian study found skin cancer cells treated with dandelion root extract started dying off within just 48 hours of treatment. Dandelion root has also been shown to be effective against pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.
Thanks to the liver-healing abilities of dandelion, it also helps with jaundice, a disorder of the liver, where it overproduces bile and messes with the body’s metabolism. Dandelion helps regulate bile production, and also promotes urination, helping to get rid of excess bile.
Gall Bladder Disorders
Dandelion leaf is great for stimulating a sluggish gallbladder (the organ that stores and excretes bile as the body needs it). Gallstones can even be flushed out by using a combination of dandelion and milk thistle.
Dandelion contains mucilage and inulin (6), which soothe the digestive tract and make food processing easier. It is also a great source of dietary fibre, which is crucial for proper intestinal health and improving gut flora. If you suffer from constipation or diarrhea, eat some dandelion greens!
The high levels of iron, B-vitamins and protein in dandelion make it a perfect food to eat if you suffer from anemia or other blood-related disorders. Dandelion is also a natural diuretic, so it helps lower blood pressure by getting rid of excess salt in the body. The fibre in dandelion is also helpful in reducing cholesterol, which we all know is an integral part of maintaining a healthy circulatory system.
Picking & Processing Dandelion
Picking and processing your own dandelion might be an option if you have a yard with plenty of the plants. If you don’t have any dandelion in your yard currently, you can purchase dandelion seeds online to grow your own dandelion patch.
The entire dandelion plant is edible: flower, leaves and roots. It has a taste that resembles that of a spicier arugula. If you plant to harvest your own dandelion, make sure you harvest from an area that is not treated with chemicals or fertilizer of any kind. Avoid areas near freeways or public parks.
Some grocery stores even sell dandelion greens if you’re not up to foraging.
If you do plan on harvesting your own dandelion, the best time to do it is in the spring when they are young (before they flower) and again in the fall.
When it comes to harvesting, you want to try to pick the youngest leaves, which will be located on the inside of the growth. The oldest (and bitterest) leaves will always be on the outside. The best greens from the dandelion plant often come before the plant has produced its yellow flowers.
To harvest the leaves, all you need to do is pluck them out of the ground and collect them in a basket, bowl or bag. They’ll keep for a couple days in the fridge, but the fresher, the better (so try to eat them as soon as you pick them!).
Dandelion crowns are the densely packed circle of small leaves that are just about to produce a yellow flower. The crowns are the best tasting part of the plant (and the sweetest). Pick them if you can, before the plant has had a chance to flower. Dandelion crowns can be stored in the fridge for a couple days, or dehydrated for 1-2 days at 115ºF in a dehydrator (and then stored in a mason jar).
To harvest dandelion flower, pluck them off the green stem. Try to separate the flower from the green base, which can be quite bitter. You can store the flowers in the fridge for a couple days, or you can dehydrate them in a dehydrator at 115ºF for 1-2 days until they are completely dried out. Once dried, you can store in a mason jar and make tea with them throughout the winter months.
To harvest dandelion leaves, just pluck off the greens from the stem. Remember, the best tender greens are those that grow nearest to the stem. The larger outer leaves will be much more bitter (but they are still beneficial if you can handle the bitterness!). The leaves will store in the fridge for a day or two, but it is best to use them right away. You can also dry the leaves in a dehydrator at 115ºF for about 8-15 hours (or until crispy and dried). Once crisp, transfer to a mason jar and store in the cupboard to make tea.
Harvesting dandelion roots can hurt the butt, but it’s worth it. The best time to harvest dandelion roots is in spring, because in the cold winter, this is where all the vitamins and minerals are stored. You can use a weeding tool to dig and uproot the roots. Otherwise, you just need to dig with a spoon or other tool to remove the rich tubers from the ground. After the roots are harvested, they are thoroughly washed and scrubbed in a sink, then cut into small pieces, like carrots. You can boil it directly into tea using the roots, or you can dehydrate it at 115ºF for 1-2 days until it is completely dry. You can then store the roots as tea for winter use.
If you are not interested in your own dandelion picking and processing, or are unusable, here are some products you can use at home to fully benefit from the plants. Since these products are from other companies, please use the instructions for consumption on their products. As always, I will only link products I will use here:
– Organic Dandelion Leaf & Root Tea
– Organic Raw Dandelion Root Tea
– Organic Dandelion Tincture (whole plant)
– Organic Raw Dandelion Root (to make your own tea or tincture)
How to Use Dandelion
Dandelion can be utilized in all its forms. Whether you want to use the flower and leafy greens in your salad, or steep a body-warming tea with the root, you can receive so many benefits from the plant!
Dandelion Crowns & Flowers
Dandelion crowns and flowers can be consumed fresh on top of salads, or straight up as a snack. There are also many different applications for using the crowns and flowers as outlined below:
- Dandelion Flower Infused Oil
This oil can be used to heal chapped or cracked skin, and is also useful to soothe sore muscles and other aches and pains. The shelf life of the oil is about 1 year.To make it, fill canning jar about half-way with dried dandelion flowers. You can dry the dandelion flowers in a dehydrator at 115ªF for about 1 day (or until completely dry).
Once the flowers are in the jar, cover them with about twice as much as your favorite carrier oil (olive, sweet almond, apricot kernel, avocado and hemp oil are my favorites). Cap the jar, and place in a dark cabinet for 4-6 weeks, shaking occasionally as you remember.
Once the infusion time has passed, strain the dandelion flowers from the oil into another canning jar, and store in the fridge for up to 1 year.
- Dandelion Flower Salad
Young dandelion petals have a honey-like flavor; mature blossoms are bitter, but still nutritious and pretty. You can consume fresh dandelion flowers on top of your salad if you want to reap the benefits of the raw flower. Simply cut off the green stem at the base of the flower (the bitter part), and toss in whatever salad you’re making.You can also use dandelion flowers as garnish in desserts. The bright yellow hues make them the perfect option for livening up desserts of any type.
Dandelion greens are the bitter part of the plant, meaning they’re great for increasing production and release of bile in the liver. They can be eaten raw in salads, juiced, or even made into vinegar!
- Dandelion Vinegar
To make dandelion vinegar, harvest the leaves, stems and flowers from a fresh dandelion plant. Rinse them well, and fill a jar full with the plants (don’t pack too tightly). Next, pour apple cider vinegar over the fresh plants until the jar is filled. Cover the top of the jar with wax paper or plastic wrap, and then screw on the lid (to prevent the acid of the vinegar from eating away at the metal on the lid). Place the jar in a dark cabinet and store for 4-6 weeks, shaking occasionally. Once the infusion is done brewing, strain and store in another jar. It is now ready to use!You can use dandelion vinegar on your salads by combining it with some olive or hemp oil and some maple syrup and salt to taste.
Another use of dandelion vinegar is using it as a spot-dabber on itchy bug bites.
You can also use dandelion vinegar as a diluted hair rinse. Dilute 1/4 cup dandelion vinegar with 1/4 cup water, and rinse your hair with it to produce silky soft locks.
- Dandelion Juice Shots
Dandelion juice made from the raw plant is incredibly healing for the liver, and other organ systems of the body.To make, all you need is a juicer, and dandelion leaves that are freshly harvested. Run the dandelion leaves through the juicer to make 1-2 shots of fresh dandelion juice. I personally like to just take a shot, because it is so bitter, but some people like to make juice combinations with dandelion like adding in some apple, lemon and ginger (for about 3-4 cups of dandelion greens, add 1 apple, 1/2 peeled lemon and a thumb-sized piece of ginger).
- Dandelion Salad
Harvesting fresh, young dandelion greens and adding them to a salad of mixed baby greens is a great way to incorporate these plants into your diet!
Dandelion root can be used to make a medicinal tea for treating digestive issues, gallstones, inflammation, muscle aches, and bloating. It can also be roasted into a concoction that works as a great coffee replacement. There is so much you can do with dandelion root. Here are some of my suggestions:
- Dandelion Root Tea
Once you have harvested your dandelion root as outlined above under “preparation”, you will want to boil down the dandelion root in water to release all the beneficial nutrients.Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a pot, and add 1/4 cup dehydrated dandelion root. Reduce the heat to simmer, and put a lid on the pot. Let simmer for about 30 minutes, and then take off the heat to let sit and cool.
You can drink the tea as is, or add your favorite sweetener (maple syrup with dandelion is an amazin combination!). Depending on your stove and how hot the water was boiling and simmering, you might get more or less yield at the end. Drinking about one cup every day should suffice. If you have any extras left over, store in a mason jar in the fridge, and heat up the next day to consume.
- Dandelion Root “Coffee”
If you are looking for a replacement for coffee, look no further! Roasted dandelion root tastes very similar to coffee, and many people have used it to kick their caffeine addiction. There is even a company out there that sells a “Dandy Blend” as an alternative to coffee drinking!Using fresh dandelion root that has been cleaned and cut into cubes, roast at 400ºF for about 30 minutes until they’re completely dry and brown, but not burned. If your oven tends to run a bit hot, set the oven to 350 degrees and roast them for 40 minutes. They should come out dry and toasted, but not burned.
You can either take the roasted root and steep it into a tea, or you can grind down the roasted root to make into a powder similar to coffee. You can then take this powder, and utilize it as you would coffee in your coffee pot or french press.
Serve the dandelion coffee with coconut cream and a sweetener.
Whole Dandelion Plant
You can utilize the whole dandelion plant in things like tinctures where you can provide your body with the benefits of the whole plant all year long.
- Dandelion Tincture
To make a dandelion tincture, harvest an entire dandelion plant and wash each part very well. Once you’re done, chop the entire plant as finely as you can. You’ll want about 3-4 cups of fresh plant cut up.Place the pieces of the freshly cut plant in a mason jar (jar size depends on how much plant you’ve gathered up) then cover with an 80 proof or higher alcohol like vodka. Make sure you cover the lid with plastic wrap or wax paper before securing the lid, as the alcohol can eat away at the metal lid as it sits.
Cap the jar and store in a cool dark place for 2 to 3 weeks, shaking occassionally. Once it has finished sitting, strain into a clean mason jar or pour into individual tincture bottles with droppers.
Traditional herbalists recommend a dosage of up to 30 to 40 drops, three or four times per day, but since tinctures are quite powerful, I recommend taking no more than 5-8 drops a day. Use this tincture to help with constipation or a sluggish liver that leads to poor digestion and acne.
There are so many ways you can enjoy the benefits of dandelions. What are some ways you’ve utilized dandelion in your life? Let me know in the comments below!
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