Did you know you’ve probably pulled, stomped or sprayed a natural superfood that grows in your backyard? Dandelion is mostly known as a backyard weed, but it has amazing nutrient quality and health promoting properties.
All the parts of the dandelion plant can be used in various ways though the roots and leaves are the most commonly used as herbs.
According to Mountain Rose Herbs:
The leaves and root of the dandelion plant contain impressive levels of vitamins A, C, D, and B as well as minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese, copper, choline, calcium, boron, and silicon.
Though we often consider it a week in modern times, it has been used in virtually every area where it grows naturally as an herbal remedy and for promoting health. In fact, hundreds of years ago, it was used by various native cultures for supporting liver and gallbladder health.
Dandelion root and leaf are often listed as the ingredients of teas and poultices for abscesses and sores, especially on the breast and in female health remedies as they can help support lactation and remedy urinary issues.
Dandelion root is tougher and more hardy than the leaf and is often used in decoctions and tinctures for this reason. The powder is often added to coffee substitutes (my favorite is Dandy Blend). The root is considered a natural diuretic and is sometimes used for this purpose.
According to Mountain Rose Herbs:
Chopped dandelion root can be combined with myrrh to make a poultice for boils and abscesses, with honeysuckle flowers to make a tea to be drunk to treat boils and abscesses, with skullcap and/or chrysanthemum flowers to make a tea to be drunk to treat sore eyes, or with heal-all to treat hard phlegm in bronchitis. Can also be administered in capsule or extract form for convenience.
According to the How To Herb Book, this backyard superfood is:
- Supportive of healthy blood levels and may help purify the blood and support the body’s natural detoxification systems
- A good natural source of vitamins and minerals, especially calcium.
- A natural source of important compounds called nutritive salts that help the blood. Some theories suggest that a deficiency of these salts can lead to an imbalance that causes anemia.
- There are anecdotal reports of those with low blood pressure using dandelion to help restore energy.
- Dandelion has a long history of use for supporting the liver and the body’s natural process of detoxification. Evidence shows that it increases the activity of the liver and the flow of bile into the intestines.
- For this reason, some people with hepatitis take dandelion to help support their liver.
- These same supportive properties make it beneficial for the female organs and naturopaths often recommend supplements or teas that contain dandelion for helping balance hormones and reverse hormone related problems .
- Its effect on the blood and liver may also help it alleviate urinary problems. A friend of mine struggled with constant recurring urinary tract infections for years and a dietary change of removing sugar and adding in more plant foods including dandelion has helped her remain UTI free.
- Many people also notice improved skin from consuming dandelion, possibly because it supports the liver, which is tied to skin health.
The University of Maryland Medical Center also reports that:
Preliminary animal studies suggest that dandelion may help normalize blood sugar levels and lower total cholesterol and triglycerides while raising HDL (good) cholesterol in diabetic mice. Researchers need to see if dandelion will work in people. A few animal studies also suggest that dandelion might help fight inflammation.
The Many Ways to Use Dandelion
The entire dandelion plant can be used and if you have a safe (non-sprayed) source in your yard or community, you can consider harvesting it yourself.
The flower can be used to make tea and even to make some types of wine.
The leaves can be consumed fresh on a salad or in recipes as well as substituted for greens like kale and collards in recipes or cooking. The antioxidant rich leaves are the most diuretic part of the plant so while they can be consumed regularly, it is important to maintain hydration too.
The root may help improve digestion and relieve mild upset stomach, making it a great alternative to coffee for those who don’t tolerate it well.
It is important to check with a doctor before taking this or any herb, especially in large amounts or if taking any other medicine or supplement. Though it is generally considered safe, those allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigold, chamomile, yarrow, daisies, or iodine may not be able to consume it.
Ever used dandelion? How did you use it? Share below!