When you saw the yellow flowers in the picture associated with this blog post, what were your first thoughts? Did you think, “Oh no, my lawn is ruined by that nasty weed!” or did you think, “Yum, lunch!”?
“Half the world love it, uses it for medicine, and dines on it regularly. The other half wages war on it with a heavy arsenal of pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides.” (Gladstar, 2012, p. 124).
Most people view dandelions, also known by the scientific name Taraxacum officinale, as garden pests but this plant packs a 5-star nutrition wallop. Both the leaves and root provide health benefits as medicine and food. The benefits offered by this humble “weed” extend to improved digestion, liver support, weight loss, cancer inhibition, and diabetes control (Murray, 1995, p. 88-89).
The leaf of the dandelion produces a powerful diuretic effect, one that can safely help with cases of water retention due to heart problems (Hoffmann, 2000, p. 91). Unlike synthetic diuretics, dandelion leaves provide and replenish potassium rather than deplete this essential mineral (Gladstar, 2012, p. 126).
“Throughout Europe and the Mediterranean, they are steamed, often with other wild greens, and served drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice. Delicious! Add a few chunks of feta for a festive dandelion feast.” (Gladstar, 2012, p. 126).
Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) use dandelion leaves to treat stomach problems, appendicitis (National Geographic, 2015, p. 77), and breast-related problems such as inflammation and lack of milk flow in lactating women (Murray, 1995, p. 88). The leaves contain a generous helping of calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin C and vitamin A (National Geographic, 2015, p. 77).
The root of the dandelion stimulates and decongests the liver, aiding this important organ in its work to remove toxins from our blood (Hoffmann, 2000, p. 91). It also encourages optimal digestion and stimulates the production of bile, the key component necessary for breaking down dietary cholesterol and fat (Gladstar, 2012, p. 125).
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Gladstar, R. (2012). Rosemary Gladstar’s medicinal herbs: a beginner’s guide. North Adams, MA: Storey Pub.
Hoffmann, D. (2000). Healthy digestion: a natural approach to relieving indigestion, gas, heartburn, constipation, colitis, and more. Pownal, Vt: Storey Books.
Murray, M. T. (1995). The healing power of herbs: the enlightened person’s guide to the wonders of medicinal plants (Rev. & expanded 2nd ed). Rocklin, CA: Prima Pub.
National Geopgraphic. (2015). Nature’s Best Remedies: The World of Health and Healing Around You. National Geographic Society.