All over the world a signal of spring is the blooming of bright, cheery dandelion. Dandelions grow pretty much anywhere and can thrive in a variety of conditions. While many people view dandelions as weeds and children might call them flowers, they are officially considered herbs and have been used for centuries in all sorts of medicinal treatments.
High in beta-carotene, antioxidents, photonutrients, trace minerals, Vitamins C, D and B complex, every part of the dandelion has valid use in a variety of different forms. It is common for people to create dandelion tinctures and other medicinal applications as well being used in making wine, beer, coffee alternatives, tea and more. Their young leaves can be sautéed and added to soups, eaten raw in salads or even used to create pies and jellies.
Keep in mind while there have been some promising studies conducted about the benefits of dandelion, there is still not enough supportive evidence for the FDA to endorse the use of dandelion for anything medicinal. However, dandelion use is popular and goes back many centuries with positive results. Always do your own research before leaping into any new thing, regardless of which way you swing.
Having said that, here is a list of popular ways dandelions are used:
- Digestive aid (has mild laxative properties)
- To increase urine production (this can help lower blood pressure as well as improve kidney function)
- Help detox the liver
- Skin toner
- Fight infections (especially viral)
- Antioxidant (helps prevent free radical damage)
- Has been shown in animals to lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar
- Helps lower high blood pressure
- Increases gallbladder function
- Helps decrease swelling
- Boosts immune system
- Helps lessen symptoms of arthritis
- May help fight certain forms of cancer
- Helps balance menstrual cycle
- Helps menopausal symptoms
- Helps reduce bloating
- Increases appetite
- Helps upset stomach
- Reduces intestinal gas
- Eases joint pain
Commercially grown and processed dandelion is readily available in most health food type stores. You can also harvest your own. Steer clear of dandelions grown by roadsides (that absorb exhaust) or in places where there could be chemicals used on them.
In early spring collect the young leaves for sautéing or salads. Tinctures can be made from parts of all of the plant.
Dandelion is generally considered safe for consumption but could cause allergic reactions in some people, especially those allergic to ragweed, daisy, chrysanthemums and marigolds. They should possibly be avoided by pregnant and nursing women. And since we’re not doctors and don’t want to replace yours, it’s always advisable to talk to your doctor before you switch anything up.
Have you used dandelion for anything? If so, what? And how did you like it?