Dandelion – A Friend Indeed

Dandelion is considered to be one of the five most nutritious vegetables on Earth.  Both the leaves and roots boost health of the liver and kidneys and thereby assist with clearing of toxins.  A gentle digestive bitter, this food-like plant is loaded with nutrients- even the flower petals are edible!   Herbalist often use this wondrous plant as a general trouble-shooter!  

 

FAMILY: Asteraceae/ Compositeae – daisy family

Botanical Name: Taraxum Officinale

Common Name: Dandelion, Piss-in-bed

IDENTIFICATION: Perennial with basal, hairless leaves that are deeply toothed – broader towards the top than at the base.  Teeth are usually directed downwards with a single stem that are hollow and leak milky latex when broken. Each stalk holds one flower. 

PARTS USED: Leaves, root, flowers

HARVESTING:  Leaves are best in spring, gradually becoming tougher and more bitter.  Roots in early spring (higher in bitter alkaloids) or late fall (higher in inulin).

ENERGETICS: Cooling and Drying – leaf (bitter, salty), root (bitter, sweet – fall roots)

ACTIONS/PROPERTIES/INDICATIONS

Alterative, Digestive, Liver Tonic, Nutritive, General Trouble Shooter

  • Diuretic, Hepatic, Cholagogue, anti-rheumatic, laxative, tonic, bitter
  • Liver tonic, digestive, gallstones, improve bile – emulsification and digestion of fats, gentle laxative, lymphatic
  • Urinary system – diuretic (potassium rich), edema, UTI, kidney stones
  • Blood Cleansing (alterative) –> skin and joint issues, gout, PMS
  • Allergies – asthma, eczema, acute and chronic sinus issues
  • Cancer – part of folk medicine protocol, modern studies (i.e. Guelph) underway for use of root.

NUTRITION

  • The leaves are abundant in: Vitamin A (beta-carotene) Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorous, B Vitamin complex (including riboflavin-b2), and offers moderate amounts of manganese, sulphur, magnesium, silica, vitamin D.
  • Dandelion root is high in iron, manganese, vitamin A (carotenes), phosphorus, protein and moderate amounts of calcium, chromium, cobalt, magnesium, niacin, potassium, silicon, zinc, vitamin c (ascorbic acid).

PREPARATIONS

Roots: Eat as you would any root vegetable, roasted (coffee substitute), extracted in alcohol (medicine) or vinegar (nutrients), decoctions (slow simmer for 20 minutes) offer both medicine and nutrition.

Leaves: Eat as you would any green: salads, steamed greens, pesto (see recipe), extracted in alcohol (medicine) or vinegar (nutrients), drink as a tea or infusion (steep for 4-8 hours) for both medicine and nutrition.

Flowers: Add to salads (omit green), infused in oil – great breast massage oil, steep in wine or water, poultice as a topical aid for: sore eyes, freckles, insect bites, age spots, rough chapped skin. The milky sap in the stem is natural latex which is said to effectively dissolve warts (topical).

Note:  This blog entry is an excerpt from 2017 Wild Plant Walk “SPRING TONICS FROM THE WILDISH SIDE”

 

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