Dandelion was one of the bitter herbs in the Passover tradition. The early colonialists brought dandelion from Europe. It is one of the planet’s most famous and useful weeds.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a member of the Asteraceae (Daisy) Family. It is a relative of Sunflower, Daisy, and Chamomile. There are over one hundred and fifty useful species. Opinions differ on the origin of its botanical name. Some believe the genus name; “Taraxacum” is from the Arabic or Persian, and means “bitter herb”. Or “Taraxos” is from the Greek, meaning, “disorder”, and akos meaning “remedy”. Or it could be derived from the Greek word “taraxia”, meaning “eye disorder”, and akeomai, “to cure”, as it was traditionally used as a remedy for eyes.
Folk names for dandelion include Lion’s Tooth, Amarga, Bitterwort, Blowball, Cankerwort, Chicoria, Clockflower, Consuelda, Devil’s Milkpail, Doonhead Clock, Fairy Clock, Fortune-Teller, Heart-Fever Grass, Irish Daisy, Milk Gowan Milk Witch, Monk’s Head, Peasant’s Cloak, Puffball, Priest’s Crown, Sun-in the Grass, Swine’s Snout, Tell Time, Tramp with the Golden Head, Piddly Bed, Yellow Gowan, Wet-a-Bed, and Wild Endive.
Dandelion, a native of Eurasia, grows two to eighteen inches long on a hollow unbranched stem with a rosette of shiny, hairless, coarsely toothed green leaves that are broader towards the top than at the base. The teeth are usually directed downwards. The leaves grow in a basal rosette. The plant blooms, one yellow flower per plant (which is actually composed of many tiny bisexual flowers). Each floret has five tiny teeth on its edge.
It has one of the longest flowering seasons than any plant and when a warm spell occurs in an off-season, it is not unusual to see a dandelion in flower. Underneath the dandelion flower is a green calyx with downward curved outer bracts. The seeds, born on a circular ball, known as “acheniums”, bear a feathery pappus and are carried on the wind, often as many as five miles from their origin.
Vitamins And Minerals
Dandelion is considered as one of the five most nutritious vegetables on Earth. The leaves and root are cold, bitter, and sweet with a slightly salty characteristic.
- The leaves contain beta-carotene, vitamin B1, B2, choline, inositol, folic acid, C, calcium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, taraxacin, bitter glycosides, and terpenoids.
- Dandelion root contains calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, choline, flavonoids (lutein, luteolin flavoxanthin, violaxanthin), pectin, inulin, taraxacin, taraxacerin, triterpenes (taraxol, taraxerol, taraxasterol, amyrin), coumestrol, levulin, mucilage, tannin, essential oil, asparagin, lactupicrine, phenolic acids (quinic acid, chlorogenic acid), caffeic acid, gallic acid, and fatty acids (myristic, palmitic, stearic, lauric).
Medicinal Benefits Of Dandelion
All parts of the dandelion are used medicinally.
- Dandelion roots are anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, cholagogue, choleretic, deobstruent, discutient, hepatic, hypnotic, purgative, and sedative.
- Dandelion leaves are antacid, antioxidant, febrifuge, hypotensive, restorative, and vulnerary.
- Dandelion leaves and root are alterative, anodyne, antirheumatic root, aperient, astringent, bitter, decongestant, depurative, digestive, diuretic, galactagogue, immune stimulant, laxative, lithotriptic, nutritive, stomachic, and can be used as a tonic.
- Dandelion flowers are anodyne, cardiotonic, emollient, hepatic, and vulnerary.
Health Benefits Of Dandelion Roots, Leaves, And Flowers
- Dandelion root is used to treat abscess, acne, age spots, alcoholism, allergies, arthritis, boils, chicken pox, cirrhosis, constipation, depression, dizziness, dyspepsia, eczema, headache, heartburn, gallstones, gout, hemorrhoids, hay fever, hepatitis, herpes, hypoglycemia, jaundice, measles, morning sickness, mumps, osteoarthritis, ovarian cysts, premenstrual syndrome, psoriasis, tuberculosis, tumors, varicose veins, and venereal warts.
- Dandelion leaves are used to improve amenorrhea, anemia, appetite loss, bedwetting, debility, dropsy, edema, insomnia, muscular rheumatism, nervousness, scrofula, scurvy, stomachache, and urinary tract infections.
- The leaves and the root are used to treat anorexia, appetite loss, Arthritis, breast cancer, breast tenderness, cysts, bronchitis, tonsillitis, cancer prevention, candida, cellulite, high cholesterol, colitis, congestive heart failure, computer stress, diabetes, dyspepsia, endometriosis, fatigue, flatulence, gallstones, hangover, hypertension, hypochondria, kidney stones, mastitis mononucleosis, obesity, poison oak and ivy, prostatitis, rashes, rheumatism, sinusitis, spleen enlargement, ulcers, and uterine fibroids.
- The flowers are used to treat a backache, depression, headache, menstrual cramps, and night blindness.
- Dandelion is a blood purifier which aids in the process of filtering and straining wastes from the bloodstream. It is useful in treating obstructions in the gallbladder, liver, pancreas, and spleen. The leaves aid in the elimination of uric acid. Use the root primarily for problems related to the liver, spleen, stomach and kidneys, and the leaf for liver, kidney, and bladder concerns.
- Dandelion is used to help clear the body of old emotions such as anger and fear that can be stored in the body’s liver and kidneys. It is an excellent herb for weight loss as the leaves are diuretic and the root improves fat metabolism.
- Consuming dandelion in the spring helps to counter the ill effects of a winter of eating only cooked, heavy foods. Drink dandelion leaf and root tea whenever embarking on a cleanse or fast.
- In the fall a bit of juniper juice is also used when treating arthritic conditions.
- As the dandelion leaf is a galactagogue, it increases the nursing mother’s milk supply and bolsters its nutritional quality – also a boon for the infant!
- The leaves and root of dandelion can make an excellent food or tea, rich in minerals for growing children.
- Because dandelion leaves and roots help to cleanse the liver, kidneys are therefore the blood; they are excellent for teenagers concerned about acne.
How To Use Dandelion Root, Leaves, And Flowers
- Dandelion flowers can be used as a poultice for wounds. The sap from the fresh stem can be applied to warts to get rid of them. The leaf can be made into a wash for fungal infections.
- The young leaves, gathered before the flower stalk achieves full height while the flowers have not yet formed, may be added to salads or used as a potherb. The fresh leaves can be juiced. The young flowers, with the green sepals removed, have a sweet honey-like flavor when young and can be eaten raw.
- The root can be cleaned and prepared like carrots or pickled. Roasted roots are made into a coffee substitute. Dandelion wine and beer are most enjoyable.
In Europe, many people commonly follow “the cure” which entails drinking three cups of dandelion root tea daily for six to eight weeks. They may do this twice a year, spring and autumn. Another spring cure is to take one or two tablespoons of dandelion leaf juice in a bit of water, morning and night, for several weeks.
Instead of spraying dandelions, learn to utilize this valuable health-giving plant. As with all herbs; do not collect from areas that have been sprayed in the past two or even three years. Dandelion is generally regarded as safe, although there is always a possibility that one can be allergic to anything. However, dandelion is considered safe even in large amounts. Pregnant women too use dandelion leaves to prevent edema and hypertension.
Dandelions provide one of Nature’s first foods for bee populations. Having dandelions in one’s yard helps to aerate the soil and make nutrients more available for other plants.
Learn to appreciate dandelion, that benefits our health and the well-being of our planet!