Dandelion Herb Profile:
Latin Name: Taraxacum officinale
Description: Wait! Don’t spray that beautiful little, yellow flower in your manicured lawn…eat it! Dandelions have earned a reputation from most as an obnoxious weed, but around here we consider it to be a treasured (and tasty) medicinal plant. Dandelions grow virtually everywhere with their jagged green leaves and bright yellow flowers in the middle. Their white seed puffs are irresistible to children and herbalist alike. My youngest sister recently carefully gathered many dandelion seeds, wrapped them in an envelope and gave them to me to “grow in your herb garden so you can make more teas”! LOVE!!!
Parts used: Whole plant; flowers (fresh), leaves and roots (fresh or dried)
Medicinal Properties: I hope by the end of this post you will have grown to appreciate our beloved dandelion. Dandelions are a great source of nourishment containing vitamins A, B12 and C, iron, folic acid, calcium, potassium, silica and other trace minerals. The bitters in the root make for an excellent tonic for the liver and are used for all sorts of liver disorders and gall bladder concerns.
The leaf is a natural, safe and very effective diuretic. It is used specifically for those with kidney and urinary problems. It works better than synthetic diuretics, because it doesn’t deplete your body’s potassium, in fact, it replenishes it. Dandelion leaf is helpful to consume as a tea during a woman’s menses as it relieves bloating, breast tenderness and PMS related to water retention.
Common (therapeutic) uses: Anemia, Bladder infections, Bladder stones, Bloating, Constipation, Gall bladder problems, Hemorrhoids, Indigestion, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Kidney disease, Lack of appetite, Liver concerns, Obesity, Osteoporosis, PMS, Skin problems, and more.
Medicinal Forms: Here are a few ways to use/apply dandelion:
- Tincture (traditional or cider vinegar)
- Infusion (herbal “tea”)
Culinary Uses: The entire plant can be used to cook with and I have tried some delicious recipes myself! The flowers are fantastic cooked up as fritters (recipe soon). The tender, early spring leaves can be added to a salad (any older and they taste bitter). The root can add some digestive support when cut up and added to your favorite soup, stir fries or pot roasts. You can also enjoy dried, roasted roots, and then mix with chicory root and cinnamon bark for a yummy, smooth tea that is similar to coffee!
Precautions: Dandelion is safe for men, women (pregnant and nursing), children and pets. Avoid consuming dandelions exposed to herbicides or those growing by roadsides.
Where to find: Almost everyone I know has dandelions growing in their yard, however, not everyone has access to non-treated lawns. If you know your weeds are never, ever sprayed with chemicals, then you can harvest your own right from your backyard. For those who don’t have that luxury, visit my two favorite bulk herb shops online, Bulk Herb Store or Mountain Rose Herbs to find organically grown dandelion leaves and roots.
- The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook by James A Duke, Ph.D.
- Homegrown Herbs by Tammi Hartung
- Herbal Healing for Women by Rosemary Gladstar
- Prescription for Herbal Healing by Phyllis A. Balch