Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis) is a little plant that you have probably walked past a trillion times. And that’s just walking down the street. You may know it by it’s pom pom fluffy flowers that make good toys for kids to blow, and hopefully make a wish upon. This is actually the flower gone to seed, and is cleverly waiting for you to do the work. This will cause the seed to be carried further away from the mother plant and grow anew.
This ubiquitous weed is powerful medicine and a valuable, free, nutrient dense spring salad-herb. All parts of this plant are used: root, leaf, flower and latex. Predominantly in Western Herbal Medicine the leaf and root are most used. The leaf is used to support the function of the lymphatic system and to nourish and move the blood. A powerful, nourishing duiretic. It is packed with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium, calcium, iron and B vitamins. This safe remedy increases the amount of water and blood waste eliminated through the kidneys and urine to eliminate congestion and fluid retention. The leaves can be used as a tea (fresh or dry) or tincture to improve circulation, pre-menstrual water retention, general fluid retention in the limbs and breasts, and even reduce blood pressure. It can also help alleviate joint pain by eliminating toxins out the body via the kidneys, alleviating arthritic and rheumatic aches and pains. The leaf is a valuable digestive bitter, and taking this in salads, tea or tincture will improve digestion by stimulating the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. The bitter taste is valuable but often absent in the western diet, needed to stimulate the function of the liver. By alleviating congestion in the liver pre-menstrual symptoms and depression can be reduced.
The root of dandelion is a supreme liver remedy. It supports optimal function of the liver, gall bladder, pancreas and spleen. It improves all digestion function, quality of the blood and may over the long term resolve chronic constipation. It is a strengthening and nourishing remedy, making you stronger and general health better. It is in general a wonderful tonic, especially when taken in spring as the body awakens from the slumber and congestion of the winter.
I have been experimenting with different preparations of dandelion, finding ways to take the leaf I’ve been foraging locally. One of the best and most palatable recipes I found was the one below from the delightful book ‘Wise Woman Herbal’ by the fabulous Susan Weed. What I love and appreciate about this recipe is that it combines dandelion leaf with the pre- and pro-biotic foods live organic natural yoghurt, cottage cheese and garlic. These three foods, combined with the dandelion will encourage the growth of good bacteria within the intestines, which is the foundation of all good health. In addition good digestive function enables the broad range of vitamins in the dandelion leaf to be absorbed, which again is a vital aspect in good health. Here’s the recipe;
1/4 cup yoghurt
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 cup dandelion greens
collect local dandelion leaves, thoroughly wash and chop finely with a sharp knife. Mix together with cottage cheese and yoghurt, add garlic powder and salt to taste. Store in airtight jar. Serve with any good quality cracker. Store in the fridge
Enjoy your spring greens!