One little known song asks the question, “How many dandelions this year will grow?” Indeed, many find this weed a nuisance and do whatever they can to get rid of it. However, you may regret doing this when you learn the benefits of this wild plant.
It is officially Taraxacum officinale but commonly called dandelion. The name comes from the French words ‘dent de lion,’ that mean ‘lion’s tooth.’ This is a reference to the jagged-edged leaves. Dandelion in your yard is identical to dandelion herbs with so many benefits. Let’s see what some of them are.
Though the leaves are used in the most diverse ways, all the dandelion plant has healthful benefits. A few uses for the flowers include making wine, syrup, and jam. They are used in cooking (dandelion flower cookies?), and are made into an oil to rub on sore joints. The roots can be roasted and ground to make a type of root coffee, or be eaten as a vegetable.
Dandelion leaves are an excellent source of iron, sodium, beta-carotene, vitamins A and C, and especially calcium. Some feel that dandelion might have been one of the “bitter herbs” mentioned in the Bible. The leaves do add a bitter flavoring to salads and they can also be cooked like spinach. The best leaves are those that appear before the plant flowers.
One of dandelion leaf’s greatest claims to fame is its ability to purify the blood and body organs. It is a wonderful liver cleaner and increases the output of the liver, the flow of bile into the intestines and the activity of the pancreas and spleen. This makes it a great treatment for hepatitis, yellow jaundice, and other liver related problems. By purifying the blood, it helps with some types of anemia. The acids in the blood that build up with weight loss are destroyed by dandelion. It also helps with low blood pressure, and builds energy and endurance.
Dandelion is good for female organs. It enriches breast milk in nursing mothers and this, in turn, benefits both mother and child. It is good for women both before, during, and after pregnancy. Women suffering from premenstrual syndrome may find that the diuretic action of dandelion helps relieve some of the symptoms. In short, dandelion is safe and healthy for men, woman, children, and even animals.
Dandelion flowers are an excellent source of lecithin, a nutrient that elevates the brain’s acetylcholine. As a result, it may help retard or stop regression of mental ability caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Lecithin also helps the body maintain good liver function as mentioned before. Dandelion also opens the urinary passages as part of its cleansing work.
Traditional Chinese Medicine uses dandelion to treat upper respiratory tract infections, including pneumonia and bronchitis. Native Americans used it to treat indigestion, kidney disease, and heartburn.
Dandelion leaves and flowers are best when freshly picked. If this is not possible, the leaves can be refrigerated up to five days when wrapped in a plastic bag. Be sure to wash the leaves thoroughly before using. Leaves may also be frozen for longer periods of time. You can also dry the flowers and leaves yourself and store them in a dark, dry, and cool place. Use them in the bath to treat yeast infections, or to make your own dandelion tea (steep about 1 tablespoon of dried leaves in 1 cup hot water). Dandelion may also be purchased in capsules, tinctures, and powdered form.
Dandelion is regarded as a safe herb. However, some people report allergic or asthmatic reaction to this herb particularly those with allergic reaction to ragweed or daisies. Some warn patients with liver or gallbladder disease to stay away from dandelion but others feel this opinion is not true.
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