A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows. -Doug Larson
You’ve probably pulled, stomped or even sprayed a natural super-food that grows right in your backyard! Dandelion is mostly known as a backyard weed, but it is one of my favorite herbs and has amazing nutrient qualities and health promoting properties. Who knew the white puffy flower plant that grant so many childhood wishes could offer so many health benefits?
All the parts of the plant can be used in various ways though the roots and leaves are the most commonly used.
ROOTS AND LEAVES
Dandelion has a variety of nutrients and the leaves and root contain Vitamins A,C, K and B-vitamins as well as minerals including magnesium, zinc, potassium, iron, calcium and choline. 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!
- Liver Support and Detoxification: According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “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” (Source).
- Clear Skin: Due to its natural magnesium and zinc content and its 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.
- Blood Sugar Balance: According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “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” (Source).
HOW TO USE DANDELION
Though you can buy dandelion root and dandelion leaves pre-dried and pre-harvested, it is such a simple herb to harvest yourself and a great way to save money. These are some of my favorite uses:
- The leaf used in teas for a nutritive herbal tea
- In a poultice externally for skin irritations
- Breading the flowers and pan frying them for a nutritious treat
- Sautéing the leaves in olive oil for a nutritious treat
- Chopped dandelion leaves added to soup for extra nutrients
- Roasted dandelion root as a tea in place of coffee
*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 and never by a busy road.