dandelion 02Dandelion

Dandelion | Taraxacum officinale

general characteristics

general characteristics

Common names include piss en lit (piss in the bed-French), lions tooth, blowball, preists crown, fairy clocks...to name but a few.
The humble dandelion needs little description being one of the most common and perhaps best known wild plant in the UK. Unfortunately, it is also the 'face' you will see on many brands of weedkiller....quite heart breaking when you become aware of the incredible medicinal and nutritional qualities it contains! "Pick it, don't poison it!" as herbalist James Green says.
Growing in all sorts of conditions but preferring sunny spots in grasses and on disturbed or waste ground it is a hardy perennial herb and a member of the Asteraceae (daisy) family.
The deep tap roots remain all year round with the leaves forming a rosette from which the flower stalks emerge in spring, then again in late summer. The 'clocks' or seed heads produce lots of seed by which the plant proliferates.
 
Organic dandelion root and leaf tinctures plus organic dandelion leaf and root as dried herbs are available to buy in our herbal shop.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

harvesting and preparation

harvesting and preparation

The leaves and root are the commonest parts used medicinally, although all parts of the plant are edible. The leaves can be harvested whenever they are available but are traditionally picked in the spring when at their most vibrant and are less bitter than late summer or autumn pickings. They can then be used fresh or dried and stored. Don't wash the leaves if you intend to dry and store them. The fresh spring leaves make quite a pleasant and extremely nutritious addition to leafy salads.

The roots can be dug early spring just as the first rosette of leaves are evident or in the late summer/autumn when they are richer in bitter substances which help the liver. Wash the root well, chop it into small pieces, pat dry and spread out on paper or fabric on a tray and dry thoroughly. Check regularly for mould or spoilage and discard any affected pieces. Make sure the pieces are thoroughly dry before storing in an airtight jar in a cool dark place.

 

Dandelions have a reputation as a pest of a weed so are routinely drenched with toxic herbicides in gardens, parks, community spaces and field margins etc. Keep this in mind when harvesting dandelions and don't pick from roadsides etc. Try and allow a small area in your own green patch for them to exist. Pick the flowers before they set seed if you don't want them to spread.

 

 

Organic dandelion root tincture and dried herb plus organic dandelion leaf dried herb are available to buy in our herbal shop.

 

 

 

therapeutic actions and uses


therapeutic actions and uses

 

Dandelions have been around a very long time, archaeological remains date its earliest appearance to around 30 million years ago. They have been used a both a food source and medicine for centuries, probably millennium.
Rich in nutrients such as vitamin A (thought to be the richest source of vitamin A of all the green plants) potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorous, the B vitamins thiamine and riboflavin (B1 and B2), vitamin C, are a good source of fibre, pectin and protein and other trace minerals such as copper, boron, zinc, molybdenum and a form of vitamin D.

Dandelion components are complex in their composition and actions but the sum of all the parts add up to a remarkable remedy, capable of stimulating metabolism in all the cells but especially those of the larger detoxifying organs such as the kidneys and liver.
 
Dandelion leaves are perhaps best known for their ability to increase urine output (diuretic) in a safe way, without exhausting the kidneys or putting them under undue stress. This makes them suitable for all forms of oedema/water retention, safe during pregnancy and effective for water retention during PMS. Take 1-2 tablespoons of fresh or dried leaves as a tea up to twice daily to help dissolve and pass kidney or bladder stones and gravel. Do this daily until all stones are gone...many recommend to wee into a bucket to check that all stones are passed!
Dandelion is also tonic to the kidneys, relieving inflammation and obstructions in the genito-urinary system.
The leaves can also be used in pleurisy to drain the fluids from the pleural cavity.
*It is a well known established fact that diuretic medications adversely affect the balance of salts within the body by depleting potassium levels and raising sodium levels. This can lead to dangerous side effects. For herbalists, dandelion leaves are the perfect diuretic, they are packed with potassium (a richer source than bananas) and maintain a good salt balance whilst still acting as a potent diuretic.
 
Dandelion can also be taken for an enlarged prostate.
 
Dandelion root is also a prime liver tonic and can help with acute and chronic hepatitis, to protect the liver from alcohol induced damage, to help alleviate jaundice (if breastfeeding a jaundiced baby, sip dandelion root tea throughout the day), it increases gallbladder and bile production so can help gallstones, is a spleen tonic, helps to protect the stomach from irritation, acts as a mild cleansing laxative in chronic constipation yet can also alleviate diarrhoea, offers protection against stomach ulcers, eases flatulence, bloating, indigestion, heart burn and is overall a potent promoter of good digestion.
 
The root also shows anti-inflammatory action against inflammatory bowel disease such as irritable bowel.
 
Dandelion root and leaves, when taken together in their dried or powdered form, lowers high cholesterol and can be preventative against atherosclerosis/arteriosclerosis (furring or hardening of the arteries from plaque growth in the blood vessel walls), coronary and congestive heart disease. It also has a beneficial action on blood flow through the veins so could be useful in varicose veins, phlebitis and haemorrhoids for example.
Dandelion leaf and/or root are the go-to herb for treating high blood pressure, partly due to their action on the kidneys which increase urine output and lower blood volume overall but also for their tonic action on the heart and blood vessels.
 
Dandelion root and leaf are very effective at clearing heat, stagnation and congestion. It can be taken daily when in hot countries to help the body stay cooler and prevent against heat exhaustion/heat stroke but is also helpful for any signs of trapped heat and congestion which may manifest as thickened bodily fluids. Feverish conditions can also be eased through the use of dandelion, excessive sweating may also improve.
 
Dandelion root often forms a part of herbal formulas used to improve anaemia.
 
Dandelion root can be helpful in diabetes as it causes sugars to be released more slowly into the blood, regulates pancreatic secretions and acts as a tonic to the pancreas. It can also help to stabilise blood sugar in cases of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar).
 
Both the roots and leaves have been used successfully in certain cancers such as melanoma, cancer of the bile duct, pancreas, breast, uterus and prostate.....People who have benefited from dandelion have both eaten the leaves in salads and used the root as a drink. Regular consumption of dandelion root and/or leaves may help prevent cancer generally as they contain substances that inhibit the formation of new blood vessel growth associated with the growth of cancers (angiogenesis).
 
Both dandelion root and leaves are often used in weight loss formulas against obesity. The diuretic action, antioxidant activity and liver detoxing actions are partly responsible.
 
Herbalist Susan Weed suggests using dandelion root for increasing bone density and preventing osteoporosis. Its bitter action increases stomach acid production and helps extract maximum calcium from foods/herbs.
 
Dandelion root helps protect against the flu virus, is anti-microbial and is a potent anti-oxidant. The whole plant (root and leaves) in their dried form have shown great promise against HIV as discussed in this scientific paper. The seeds are also anti-fungal. Dandelion can be useful for any stubborn or deep seated chronic infection, anywhere in the body.
 
The milky sap (that exudes from the stalks when picked) can be regularly applied directly on to warts to help eliminate them. It is also an old remedy for eye disorders and can be applied liberally to corns.
 
Both leaf and root have a profound blood cleansing action and are great as a spring tonic. Both are famed for their ability to clear congestion and stagnation in the tissues and organs and to improve metabolic diseases. They form a large part of many formulas - but are powerful enough to be used alone - to help rheumatism and rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis, sciatica, spondylitis and gout for example.
 
Dandelion has the ability to break down thickened fluids such as sluggish lymph fluids, catarrh and other congestion. It will help blocked salivary glands and enhance the flow of saliva.
 
Dandelion root and leaves contain nutritive salts which help to purify the blood, improve cell metabolism and provide nutrition, making them useful in many stubborn skin conditions such as acne, hot itchy skin conditions, psoriasis, cellulitis, spots and the flowers were once used as a wash to improve the complexion.
 
Dandelion root can also help to combat fatigue and exhaustion as well as to improve recovery times after physical exercise. Take a teaspoon of tincture for a quick pick up. As a decent source of iron, the leaves can be taken in anaemia.
 
The leaves also help to increase healthy breast milk production. Eating a handful of fresh leaves several times weekly or taking the tea can help prevent and treat pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure in pregnancy. The leaves will also help with water retention during pregnancy. Dandelion leaves are also rich in folic acid.
 
Taking dandelion root can also protect the liver and gallbladder from the potentially damaging effects of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). It can also prove beneficial for hot flashes and flushes during menopause as it helps the liver process the extra circulating hormones. All parts of the dandelion are rich in phyto-oestrogens, the precursors to many hormones created by the body. Dandelion root would be in any formula I gave to a fibroid sufferer.
 
Root and leaves show an anti-depressant activity in animals and can help to improve the memory. Even some cases of manic depression have been greatly improved with dandelion.

 

Spiritual properties include shining a light in the darkness of the human condition, helping us to understand why things happen the way they do, to learn the personal lessons behind the traumas. Above all else dandelion represents persistence in the face of adversity and the ability to flower in adverse conditions.

dosage and cautions


dosage and cautions

* Dandelion (both root and leaves) are considered very safe and non toxic, even at quite large doses (larger than those stated below).
* Due to their diuretic action, do not take alongside any diuretic medications. I have often given dandelion leaf (alongside other herbs) for high blood pressure in place of prescribed diuretics, with very good effect.

Dried root in tea form: 1 heaped teaspoon of dried root simmered in a cup and a half of water for 15-20 minutes. Do this 3 times daily or brew the whole amount in one go and drink throughout the day. Older herbals advocate using 25g or 1 oz of root to several pints of water, simmering until the liquid is halved, then taking a wineglassful up to 3 times a day. Take before meals for the digestive actions.

Dried leaf  in tea form: 1 (up to 4) teaspoon of dried leaf per cup and stand for 10 minutes. Do this 3 times daily, last cup in early evening to avoid waking at night to wee.

Root Tincture: 1 teaspoon or 5ml in  a little water 3 times daily.

Leaf tincture: 1-2 teaspoons in a little water up to 3 times daily.

Powdered root:  1/2 a teaspoon up to 3 times daily.


Add fresh leaves to a salad or vegetable juice, steam like spinach and use as a vegetable, add to soups, make dandelion leaf and flower wine etc.
Chopped dried root can be roasted/toasted lightly and used as a very decent coffee substitute. Here is a youtube video detailing how you can make dandelion coffee. Fresh root can also be juiced or liquidised and a teaspoon or so added to other drinks.


Children
Add 12 to the child’s age. Divide the child’s age by the total.
E.g. dosage for a 4 year old...... 4 {age} divided by 16 {age + 12} = . 25  or 1/4 of the adult dosage.





 


 

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