Herb of the Month – Dandelion

May 7, 2013

 

Taraxacum Officinale (dandelion)

Dandelion is one of my most favourite weeds. I’ve never understood why people go to war with dandelions — my yard is full of them and frankly, if I were to remove them all I’d have no lawn! I love watching them cycle through — first their lovely green leaves appear, then their bright, sunny yellow flower faces.  At this stage the flowers attract all kinds of bees, butterflies and other insects – a treasure to watch.

DandelionsNot long after, they transform into lovely puffballs (seeds) that remind me of large billowy snowflakes. That’s about the time that I get the lawn mower out and give them all a “hair cut”.  I’ve never quite understood what the big deal is with having to have grass as lawn (isn’t grass a weed too?) when you can have dandelions. Flowerless, the leaves are lovely and soft and cooling to walk upon in the heat of summer, and I’ve noticed that on rainy days, they provide ample shelter for small critters (e.g. frogs) and insects.

Anyway, I digress. I really want you to know about the wonderful medicinal properties of dandelions.

PARTS USED:

Leaves
Flowers (before they go to seed)
Roots

ACTIONS:

Leaf — gentle diuretic (replaces potassium lost); hepatic; digestive tonic.
Root — digestive and hepatic tonic; cholagogue; diuretic and laxative.

USES:

Leaf:

Edema, especially of cardiac (i.e. heart-related) origin and as a natural complement to cardio-active remedies.
For urinary problems in general (e.g. mild bladder infections).
Strengthens and tones the bladder (very good for mild incontinence).
To a lesser extent the same actions as the root.

Root: 

Gentle tonic for the liver (to promote proper function).
For gallstone and problems related to bile; jaundice.
Helps to ease constipation (without causing spasms and cramps).
For general toxic conditions (it’s a safe and gentle cleanser).
To a lesser extent the same actions as the leaves.

 

DOSE:

Capsules:  250-1000mg 1-3 times daily.
Tincture:  50-100 drops, 1-3 times daily.

Tea (leaf):  1 teaspoonful of crushed dried leaves to 1 mug of boiled water; steep 5-10 minutes. Take 1-3 times daily.
Tea (root):  ½-1 teaspoonful of chopped (or powdered) dried root to 1 mug of boiled water; steep 10 minutes. Take, 1-3 times daily.

 

NOTES:

Because it’s a diuretic, dandelion leaf tea should be avoided later in the evening – so you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to go pee!

The white sap (“latex”) from the stem can be applied directly to warts as a long-term treatment to get rid of them.

 

DANDELION and CHICORY “COFFEE” RECIPE:

Into a glass coffee pot, teapot or stainless steel saucepan place 2-3 tablespoons roasted dandelion root and one heaped teaspoon chicory. Pour on 6-8 cups boiled water. Allow to steep for at least 10 minutes. The longer left to steep, the stronger tasting the “coffee” will be.

Strain the coffee and enjoy. Honey or cream can be added to taste, although this “coffee” tastes very good just the way it is.

NOTE:

To roast your own dandelion root simply spread the chopped root onto a cookie sheet and gently roast in slow oven (about 250°C) until it turns a darker shade of brow. Take care not to burn the root as it will become bitter.

Many die-hard coffee drinkers have made a very comfortable switch to this particular “coffee” and find that they do not miss their regular brew.

Ensure that herbs are purchased from a reputable health food store and are free from chemical residues.

Do not exceed more than 2-3 cups daily (especially initially) as both dandelion root and chicory are classified as liver and bowel cleansers and high doses may cause diarrhea.

 

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