Dandelion, blowball, cankerwort, Irish daisy, monk’s head, priest’s crown, swine snout, wild endive, witch gowan, and yellow gowan
Dandelions are a versatile plant that can be harvested for their leaves, roots, and flowers. For those who prefer a less bitter taste, the first green leaves of spring are the best choice. However, those seeking the beneficial bitter flavor can harvest the leaves all season long. To harvest the root, use a digger tool to extract the entire taproot from the ground in either the spring for bitter roots or the fall for sweeter roots. Scrub the root well before slicing it from top to bottom and laying it out to dry, or leave it whole to preserve the latex. If you want to avoid the bitter flavor, simply pop off the open yellow flower and leave the green sepal behind.
Dandelion is highly regarded by herbalists for its ability to promote liver health. It is known to effectively reduce inflammation and congestion, while also supporting the detoxification process of metabolic waste. Dandelion is particularly beneficial for the liver and gallbladder, as it stimulates the latter and helps ease inflammation and congestion in both organs. Its hepatic and cholagogue properties make it a popular choice for those seeking natural liver support.(1)
Dandelions have been known for their healing properties for centuries. The Tang Materia Medica, written in 7th century China, was the first to mention the plant's medicinal benefits. Avicenna, an Arabian physician from the 11th century, also recommended dandelion for restoring health. The Doctrine of Signatures, which suggests that plants can be used to treat ailments based on their physical characteristics, notes that dandelions, with their yellow hue, can be used to cure diseases with similar yellow tones, such as jaundice. In the Catholic tradition, the plant is considered sacred to St. Bridget. (2)
Dandelion is a powerful natural remedy that can help balance out the sweet flavors that are so common in Western diets. Its bitter taste stimulates the appetite and activates digestion and metabolism by encouraging the production of bile, gastric enzymes, and pancreatic enzymes. Dandelion root is particularly effective as a choleretic, increasing the amount of bile produced by the liver and gallbladder to aid in the digestion of fats. You can easily incorporate dandelion into your diet by adding its leaves to salads or taking a dandelion root tincture 20 minutes before meals to support healthy digestion, ease indigestion and constipation, and gently improve bile flow. (3)
Dandelion stem sap is a natural latex that can dissolve warts when applied topically. Those with a latex allergy should be cautious and do a skin patch test before using it.(4)
Dandelions are more than just pesky weeds in your lawn. In fact, all parts of the plant are edible and have medicinal properties. However, each part of the plant has its own unique benefits. The roots, for example, are great for reducing LDL cholesterol, supporting brain function, and balancing metabolism. The leaves, on the other hand, are known for supporting eye health, reducing water weight and bloating, and promoting weight loss. And if you're experiencing stomach cramping or pain from backaches or headaches, the flowers can provide relief while also improving night vision. (5)
Dandelion root contains inulin, a type of soluble fiber that can help promote healthy digestion and bowel movements. It also contains bitter compounds called sesquiterpene lactones, which can stimulate digestion and improve liver function. Dandelion root is often used as a natural diuretic to help reduce water retention and swelling in the body. Dandelion leaf, on the other hand, is a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, and potassium. It also contains antioxidant compounds that can help reduce inflammation and protect against cellular damage. Dandelion leaf is often used to support the immune system and promote healthy skin.
The Tang Materia Medica (Tang Ben Cao) is a Chinese herbal medicine text that was compiled during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). It is one of the earliest and most important works on Chinese herbal medicine, and it includes detailed descriptions of hundreds of medicinal substances, including dandelion.
In the Tang Materia Medica, dandelion is referred to as "Pu Gong Ying" and is described as having a bitter and slightly cold nature. According to the text, dandelion has a range of medicinal properties, including:
1. Clearing heat and detoxifying: Dandelion is believed to have a cooling effect on the body and can be used to help clear heat and toxins from the liver and gallbladder. 2. Promoting diuresis: Dandelion is considered a natural diuretic and can be used to increase urine production and help eliminate excess fluids from the body. 3. Relieving swelling and promoting blood circulation: Dandelion is believed to help improve blood circulation and reduce swelling, making it useful for treating conditions such as edema. 4. Soothing the liver and improving vision: In traditional Chinese medicine, the liver is believed to be closely related to vision. Dandelion is thought to have a soothing effect on the liver and can be used to help improve vision.
The Maori people of New Zealand used dandelion leaves as a diuretic and to treat skin conditions. The Australian Aboriginal people used dandelion leaves as a food source, eating them raw or cooked. They also used the plant to make a tea that was believed to have medicinal properties. The Inuit people of Greenland and Canada have traditionally used dandelion root as a food source. The root is typically roasted and used as a coffee substitute.
Root decoction: 2-3 teaspoons simmered in water for 10-15 minutes 3x/day
Fresh leaves can also be eaten steamed or raw.
Dandelion is generally considered a safe tonic herb. However, it belongs to the Asteraceae family and may cause reactions in those sensitive to other asters. People with gallbladder or kidney issues should consult their doctor before taking dandelion. (6)Those on blood thinners or diuretics should avoid it. Dandelion should not be used in cases of acute gastric inflammation as it stimulates stomach acid. Germany's Commission E advises against using dandelion in cases of bile duct obstruction, gallbladder empyema, and ileus. In the case of gallstones, consult a physician before use.(7)
(1) Hoffmann, David. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
(2) https://www.whiterabbitinstituteofhealing.com/herbs/dandelion/ Whiterabbitinstituteofhealing
(3) Tillotson, Alan Keith. (2001). The One Earth Herbal Sourcebook. New York, NY: Kensington Publishing Group.
(4) Bennett, Robin Rose. (2014). The Gift of Healing Herbs. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
(6) Holmes, Peter. (1997). The Energetics of Western Herbs, Volume 1, Revised Third Edition. Boulder, CO: Snow Lotus Press.
(7) American Botanical Council (2000). Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Online: Dandelion Root With Herb. Retrieved on October 27, 2014 from http://cms.herbalgram.org/expandedE/Dandelionrootwithherb.html.
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