by Brigitte Mars: Dandelions are among the planet’s most notorious, yet useful weeds and are considered one of the five most nutritious vegetables on Earth…
Having dandelions in one’s yard helps to aerate the soil and make nutrients more available for other plants. By poisoning edible plants, we compromise how we feed people.
Dandelions are also one of the first springtime foods for the bees, and we know that harming bees is perilous to pollination of plants, which helps provide three out of every four bites of food we eat.
Dandelions have been maligned and people have been encouraged to purchase salad greens at a high price, that were in the earth maybe weeks ago, often shipped from far away, and though we are grateful for such abundance a fresher answer, that can serve as both healthy food and medicine, may be growing freely in your yard.
Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are members of the Asteraceae (Daisy) Family and relatives to sunflower, chamomile, and even lettuce.
The genus name; Taraxacum is from Arabic, Persian and Greek, meaning, “disorder,” and akos meaning “remedy.” The species name, officinale, means, “official, hence this plant has long been regarded as the “official remedy for the disorder.”
Folk names for Dandelion have included Lion’s Tooth, Fairy Clock, Fortune-Teller, Blow ball, Cankerwort, Consuelda, Milk Witch, Priest’s Crown, Sun-in the Grass, and Wild Endive. All this might engage your imagination to the many uses of this wild weed, gift to our planet.
Dandelion was one of the original bitter herbs of Passover. Early Colonialists brought dandelion to North America and protected it with fences.
The young leaves, gathered before flowering, are less bitter and may be added to salads and used as a potherb. The fresh leaves can be juiced. The young flowers have a sweet honey like flavor and can be eaten raw. The root can be cleaned and prepared like carrots or pickled. Roasted roots are made into a coffee substitute. Dandelion wine and beer are most enjoyable. You can even boil the long tender noodle like stems in water for two minutes, then drain and sauté them with garlic and olive oil!
Consuming dandelion in the spring helps to counter the ill effects of a winter of eating heavy foods. Drink dandelion leaf and root tea when embarking on a cleanse or fast. People may claim they need scientific proof on dandelion’s use as a medicine, but dandelion has been used by millions of people for thousands of years.
Dandelion leaves are antacid and antioxidant, and aid in the elimination of uric acid. They are high in beta-carotene, B complex, vitamin C, calcium and iron. Dandelion roots are anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and benefit the liver. Dandelion leaf is a galactagogue; it increases the nursing mother’s milk supply and bolsters its nutritional quality – a boon for the infant! Because dandelion leaves and roots help cleanse the liver, kidneys, and therefore the blood; they are excellent for those concerned about acne. It is a great herb for weight loss as the leaves are diuretic and the root improves fat metabolism.
Dandelion flowers contain lutein, which nourishes our eyesight. Of course you can purchase a bottle of lutein at a health food store, but you might start putting fresh blossoms in your salad instead.
It has one of the longest flowering seasons of any plant. Instead of spraying dandelions, learn to utilize this valuable health giving plant. As with all herbs; do not collect from areas that have been sprayed in the past two or even three years, or within fifty feet (15 meters) of a busy road. Dandelion is generally regarded as safe, even in large amounts; yet there is always a possibility that you can be allergic. Even pregnant women use dandelion leaves to prevent edema and hypertension.
A century ago people would actually pull the grass out of their lawns to make room for the more useful weeds that were often incorporated into the family salad or herbal tea. Educate your neighbors and home associations that having dandelions is a positive thing. How much healthier we might be if we collected fresh greens right outside our doors? Dandelions have survived the adversity of thriving, even when unwanted. By accepting this sunshine bright ray flower that offers itself freely, we can have better health and a healthier planet!
For more recipes and remedies, please check out my E Book, Dandelion Medicine: https://www.storey.com/books/dandelion-medicine/
Brigitte Mars is an herbalist and nutritional consultant of Natural Health with almost fifty years of experience. She teaches Herbal Medicine at Naropa University, and The School of Health Mastery in Iceland. She has taught at Omega Institute, Esalen, Kripalu, Sivananda Yoga Ashram, Arise, Envision and Unify Festivals, and The Mayo Clinic.. She is a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild.
Brigitte is the author of many books and DVDs, including The Natural First Aid Handbook, The Home Reference to Holistic Health and Healing, The Country Almanac of Home Remedies, The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine, Beauty by Nature, Addiction Free Naturally, The Sexual Herbal, Healing Herbal Teas, Rawsome! and co-author of The HempNut Cookbook. DVDs include Sacred Psychoactive, Herbal Wizardry for Kids of all Ages, Natural Remedies for Childhood Ailments, Overcoming Addictions, and Natural Remedies for Emotional Health. Her latest project is a phone app called IPlant.
Brigitte and her daughter, Sunflower Sparkle Mars run Herb Camp for Kids in Boulder, Colorado. Brigitte’s other daughter is world famous activist/yogini-actress/ international model, Rainbeau Mars.
Please check out www.brigittemars.com