Latin Name: Taraxacum officinalis
Common Name: Dandelion
Energetics: Cool, dry & bitter
Parts Used: Leaves, root & flowers
. . .
- Gastrointestinal tonic
- Antioxidant rich
- Mild liver stimulant, promotes bile production
- Stimulation of digestive tract, gets the ‘juices’ flowing
- treats fluid retention
- Can help treat hepatitis
- Aids blood sugar level control
- reduces cholesterol
- Support of the gallbladder
- The root is detoxifying - liver and gallbladder
- Treats and eases constipation
- Treats acne, eczema, psoriasis when used topically
- Reduces inflammation and can ease arthritis, osteoarthritis, and gout
- Leaf supports the kidneys
- liver tonic
- Can ease hot flushes
* There are some dandelion look-alike such as hawkweed (Hieracium pilosella), sow thistle (Sonchus spp.), young wild lettuce (Lactuca spp.) plants and cat’s ear (Hypochoeris radicata). (Tilford, 1997; Virginia Tech, n.d., Edible Wild Food, n.d.). Dandelions notable identifier here is that it only has one flower per stem which is hollow and not hairy.
Eating the weeds
Dandelion is indeed an edible - in fact from the root to the flower are edible and full of nutrients
The leaves are high in vitamins A, B, C, K and E , potassium, phosphorus, calcium and iron. They also contain folate.
The roots are high in iron, protein, manganese, vitamin A and phosphorus
(Pedersen, 2010; Weed, 1989).
How’s about a harvest?
Harvesting Dandelions are super simple, you can munch on some leaves when working in the garden, add them to a salad or a stir fry, use the tender leaves for a fresher taste and the older ones for a bitter digestive kick. The flowers can be harvested any time you see them and added to teas, salad or even fried for a crunch floral side. The roots are harvested in spring and autumn - the taste can vary here as the autumn roots store nutrients through the growing season making them sweeter and higher in a polysaccharide (inulin) which is great for the microbiome (read more here). (Murray & Pizzorno, 2005).
*please remember to practice ethical harvesting techniques*
When you taste mature dandelion leaves the first response is usually the scrunching of the face and a horrible ‘yuk’ response to the bitter taste - but did you know that exact flavour is what makes it one of the best liver and digestive tonics as well as an alternative (restore you to health)
David Hoffmann (2003) calls dandelion “a most valuable general tonic and perhaps the best widely applicable diuretic and liver tonic”
The bitter taste in the leaves activate the entire digestive tract and stimulate the digestive, eliminatory and detoxification processes within the body. This remarkable herb therefore aids in stimulating bile production, saliva and digestive enzymes which improves the entire digestive and eliminatory process. In olden times European people were known (and some still do) to eat dandelion greens in the spring (Wood, 2008) to “cleanse” the digestive system after the winter indulgences.
The root can be used to cool inflammation within the body, further it is used to cleanse the liver, pancreas and gallbladder. It does this by increasing the release of bile into the small intestine and aid in the breaking down and digestion of fats, this can sometimes have a mild laxative effect - thus releasing any congestion.
Through healthy detoxification and elimination Dandelion is able to “restore function to the body by way of the metabolism, through increasing both eliminative functions and also through increasing the absorption of nutrients” (Rose, 2008).
As an alternative it supports the liver in the metabolic process, removing all waste from the blood and eliminates this - resulting in healthy endocrine function, digestion, skin health etc.
Gentle on the gut
The root of dandelion is where the nourishment for the belly begins - as a prebiotic, inulin is an incredible carbohydrate which is able too feed our gut bacteria (microbiome) which allows for ease in digestion and strengthening all the good bacterias in our entire gastrointestinal tract. It has also shown to aid in stabilising blood sugar levels due to the inulin it contains.
Kind to the kidneys
Dandelion is able to increase the process of diuresis (increases the production of urine), as well as enhance elimination of metabolic waste such as uric acid which can result in gout, arthritis, rheumatism and water retention. The high mineral profile of this herb offsets the chance of mineral loss through increased urine production (Hoffmann, 2003).
Gimme the medicine!
Dosage & Preparation:
- Tea: drink a few cups a day
- Decoction (dried root): 2 tablespoons per 300ml water simmered on stovetop for 30min-4 hours, strain and drink
- Infusion (leaves):
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh leaf, chopped, in 300 hot water.
- 1-2tablespoon of dried leaf per 300 hot water.
- Tincture: detox tincture - 10 drops 1-3 times daily
Some recipes to play with:
Dandelion root coffee:
- Harvest some dandelion roots and spread them out on a baking tray to dry for a minimum of 24 hours
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and roast the roots until they are a golden roasted colour (around 15-20 minutes)
- Remove the roots from the oven and allow to cool and dry for 10 minutes
- grind them in a coffee grinder and store in an airtight container
- To make a “dande-coffee” take 1 tbsp per cup of water and allow to steep or press for 7minutes
- enjoy with milk and sweetener of choice
As inspired by The Wild Wisdom by Katrina Blair and The Herbal Academy
- 2 cups fresh young dandelion greens
- 1 cup basil
- 1 cup cashews, almonds, or pine nuts (or sunflower seeds)
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Wash and dry dandelion greens and basil.
- Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.