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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 qualities and health promoting properties.
All the parts of the plant can be used in various ways though the roots and leaves are the most commonly used as herbs. Who knew that this plant with puffy flowers that grant childhood wishes could offer so much benefit?
Dandelion Root and Leaves
Dandelion is a source of a variety of nutrients and the leaves and root contain Vitamins (like A,C, K and B-vitamins) as well as minerals (including magnesium, zinc, potassium, iron, calcium and choline). The various parts of the plant have a long history of use as an herbal remedy, and every documented population in areas where it grows naturally has used it medicinally.
It also serves as an abundant natural food source, as all parts of the plant can be eaten. The root is often roasted and used in teas or consumed whole. The leaves make a great addition to salads or other dishes requiring greens and the flowers (while still yellow), can be eaten raw, cooked or even made into wine!
Traditional cultures have used dandelion to support digestive and hormone health and it was often consumed to support lactation or to help remedy issues like urinary tract infections.
Benefits of Dandelion
According to the How To Herb Book, this backyard superfood is beneficial in many ways, including:
Liver Support and Detoxification
Dandelion has been used for years by various cultures to support healthy liver function and natural detoxification in the body. Though it hasn’t been well studied, many people with hepatitis turn to it to help support the liver. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that:
In the past, roots and leaves were used to treat liver problems. Native Americans also boiled dandelion in water and took it to treat kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and upset stomach. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), it has been used to treat stomach problems, appendicitis, and breast problems, such as inflammation or lack of milk flow. In Europe, dandelion was used in remedies for fever, boils, eye problems, diabetes, and diarrhea.
Female Health and Hormone Balance
Due to its high levels of various nutrients and potential ability to help support the body’s natural detoxification systems, dandelion is often used by those with hormone imbalance, urinary infection and recurrent mastitis. Though not well studied, there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence from women who have used it to help remedy recurring UTIs or other infections.
Due to its natural magnesium and zinc content and its potential ability to support detoxification, dandelion is also know as being good for the skin. It can be used topically in applications like tinctures and poultices and many people also take it in capsule or tea form to help support healthy skin.
Good Source of Nutrients
Dandelion is a great source of many important vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants and nutritive salts, which may help support blood health and increase iron absorption. I personally often add dried leaves to teas for a nutrient boost or use dandelion root in place of coffee.
Blood Sugar Balance
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.
Uses of Dandelion Root and Leaves
Perhaps we wouldn’t be so quick to remove this “backyard weed” if we were more familiar with the myriad of uses it has. 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.
Here are some of the ways to use dandelion:
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 in coffee substitutes (my favorite is Dandy Blend). The root is considered a natural diuretic and is sometimes used for this purpose.
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.
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.
The flower can be used to make tea and even to make some types of wine. The leaves and root can also be used in teas, though they have a stronger taste and are often combined with other synergistic herbs for flavor and increased nutrient absorption.
Salads and Greens
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.
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 or if pregnant or nursing. Though it is generally considered safe, those allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigold, chamomile, yarrow, daisies, or iodine may not be able to consume it.
Anyone who gathers dandelion from wild sources (like the backyard) should make sure that the area has not been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides and that it does not come from an area where pets may have eliminated.
Ever used dandelion? How did you use it? Share below!
Discussion (110 Comments)
I use dandelion leaves in my green smoothies along with kale, parsley and beet tops, rainbow chard or whatever happens to be in season from the garden. Another wonderful post Katie. Thank you!
I love dandelion in my green smoothies as well!!
I have recently found that dandelion root is contraindicated for use by someone who has an intestinal blockage/bowel obstruction. This is true also for those with gallstones and ulcers. Important info, as we try to balance our health issues naturally without making ignorant decisions that may impact health negatively.
Can you explain is it that you should not use it if you have those issues?
That’s true. While dandelion is hugely beneficial (I love it) there are contraindications. Diabetics also need to use caution with dandelion root and should only use while monitored closely by a health professional. Always do your own research people! Stay safe while keeping healthy!
When I was little I would get warts all the time on my knees, so I’d use the milky juice in the stems on them. After about three days of applying the sap the warts would be gone. Bonus was the flowers are tasty. 🙂 Just had to be careful not to do that when Dad had gone nuts with the fertilizer/herbicides.
Does the sap dry them out?wondering if it would help poison ivy?
Liz, jewel weed is the best thing for poison ivy and is almost as easy to find as a dandelion!!!
Wow! I did not know this- my boyfriend is soooo allergic to poison ivy! Much better than gasoline (which he claims is the only thing that works well) I will have to try this next time we go to our farm! Thanks!!
It does help with poision Ivy and oak. I used to get it so bad when I lived in Ohio. It would help dry it out. I would split the stems and rub the juice all over the infected skin.
Claire – I’ve never heard that Dandelion juice would help for warts. Thanks for bringing this up. I’ll have to check it out myself. Thanks for sharing!
I LOVE dandelion greens! I gather them in by backyard and use them in salads.
I’ve been wanting to try dandelion, specifically The Dandy Blend that Hannah mentioned but have hesitated. On one of my last check ups I had an ultra sound for my liver (I had cancer in my liver in my 20s) and they noticed that my gallbladder has “sludge” in it. This sounds like an easy way to help move that sludge along! Thanks Wellness Mama!
Ask Wellness Mama about milk thistle. That may help you as well
I make dandelion root tea in the mornings and put it over ice with fresh lemon juice. During the work day or long drives for work, this is much more thirst-quenching and refreshing than just plain water.
Wonderful information, however, from a Mom’s point of view ….the MOST important use of a dandelion: IT IS THE FIRST FLOWER CHILDREN GIVE THEIR MOM! A most cherished memory! Thanks for so much great info.
Absolutely! My son LOVES to pick them in the backyard and say, ” Put them in your hair, Mama!”
Yes! I used to pick until my bouquet looked like a ball above my hand! My mom got lots of them with 8 kids! And I got them from my children! What a precious memory!
My Dad would make a dandelion salad and juice (the leaves and root) it too, when I was a teenager. The leaves only taste good in the early spring, after that, the leaves are bitter.
My favorite way to eat dandelion is is Dandy Blend beverage. It’s a nice alternative to coffee and I like it with cream. I knew that it had some diuretic properties, but a lot of the information in your article is new to me. Thanks for sharing!
Where do you get that? Do you have a link to post? 🙂
Amazon sells it: https://www.amazon.com/Dandy-Blend-Instant-Beverage-Dandelion/dp/B000SMN0DO/ref=as_li_ss_tl?th=1&linkCode=ll1&tag=wellnessmama-20&linkId=2618e4fe6ba8cffe29bdeb0b3b521f75&language=en_US
GREAT JOB. YOUR INFORMATION IS SUPERB. GREAT JOB DONE DUDE N THNKX FOR SHARING YOUR KNOWLEDGE WITH US…….NICE POST…KEEP POSTING