Saturday, October 24, 2015

Remedial Dandelion

While most people consider the dandelion plant ‘Taraxacum officinale’ as an annoying garden weed, the truth is that this common garden weed is packed full of vitamins as well as minerals.

The young dandelion leaves are generally used to flavour salads or sandwiches, while the more mature (bitter) dandelion leaves are more suitable for use in brewed teas. The dandelion roots are better if dried and ground before steeping or infusing, and have proven to be an excellent coffee substitute for those trying to reduce their caffeine intake. It has also been reported that the dandelion flowers have been used in the production of certain beers and wines.

The dandelion plant is a common garden plant consisting of a rosette of leaves extending approximately 25cm with a distinct yellow or orange daisy like flowering head. The smooth uneven bright green leaves have jagged edges, of what looks like, backward facing teeth, and for this reason the plant was given the name dandelion which derives from the French ‘dent de lion’, meaning lion’s tooth. The hollow flower stem rises to approximately 30cm with one yellow daisy like flower head that sets into a puff-ball looking seed head with fluffy parachutes designed to carry each seed in the wind.

The common dandelion plant is more than just an annoying weed though, as already mentioned, it is actually a nutrient packed plant that presents many healthy benefits when consumed. The dandelion is one of the best plant sources of beta-carotene, vitamin A, and also a rich source of calcium, fibre, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, protein, riboflavin, thiamine, and vitamins C, H and K.

Considering this nutritional payload of the dandelion, this plant has only been primarily used as a liver detoxifier, natural diuretic, and anti inflammatory solution. Throughout history dandelion has been a highly valued herb, and considered to be one of the very best herbs known for gall bladder, liver, and spleen complaints, and one of the most active and safest plant diuretics.

Traditional and natural medicine practitioners as well as herbalists have highly valued the dandelion plant for all its medicinal and dietary benefits. In fact, the dandelion’s scientific name is ‘taraxacum officinale’ meaning ‘the official remedy for disorders.’ The roots and leaves were generally given to patients suffering gallbladder, kidney, or liver afflictions to stimulate and improve the function of these organs. A herbal tea made from the leaves proved to be an effective diuretic or urine stimulant and assisted in regulating an individual’s blood sugar level. Numerous other dandelion benefits include appetite stimulation, aiding in weight management, managing water retention and swelling, treatment of urinary tract infection, and symptom relief of herpes and genital warts, just to mention a few.

Drinking dandelion root tea daily or consuming the leaves has proven to be very effective for individuals suffering gall bladder or liver complaints. The leaves can be consumed on a regular basis as a preventative, whilst assisting the liver to function at peak efficiency. Furthermore, as the dandelion leaves are also a valuable alkaliser, when consumed regularly they counteract or neutralize acidity within the body, purify the blood, oxygenate the blood, and regenerate the cells. The bitter principles also stimulate digestion by salivation, and the production of enzymes and stomach acids. By stimulating the gall, liver, pancreas and spleen functions, the body is better able to digest and expel fats and oils.

The consuming of dandelion has also proven effective in stimulating mucus membranes, soothing the digestive tract, absorbing toxins from the bowel, and inhibiting unfriendly bacteria, therefore assisting friendly flora to survive and thrive. It has also been reported that drinking dandelion root tea daily, or consuming dandelion leaves daily (can be mixed with salads) has the ability to dissolve gallstones.

The dandelion plant has had a positive influence on individuals that suffer from anaemia, allergies, arthritis, asthma, low blood pressure, bone disorders, cardiac edema, high cholesterol, poor circulation,  colds, constipation, eczema and other skin conditions, hot flushes, gall stones, swollen glands, gout, heart burn, halitosis (bad breath), metabolic disturbances, rheumatism, sleep deprivation and fatigue, malignant tumours, and ulcers.

Regularly consuming dandelion has a reputation of relieving the symptoms of diabetes, the following blend of herbs taken after each meal has been found beneficial (2 parts dandelion, 1 part fennel, half part ginger and 1 part elecampane). Dandelion also contains excellent fat metabolising properties, for weight management or weight loss, several cups of dandelion root tea can be sipped daily, adding one or two tablespoons of cider vinegar to each cup.

Dandelion can be ingested in various ways including fresh or dried, tinctures, as a tea or coffee, capsules or liquid extract. Dried dandelion leaf or root steeped in boiling water can brew an infusion or decoction. The young dandelion leaves can be consumed raw, or mixed with salad, or soaked in salt water brine for approximately 30 minutes and then steamed like spinach. The root should be dried and then ground before using as a coffee or tea substitute.

*Note: When infusing or steeping dandelion root, the solution will be clear and there may be some doubt as to whether the steeping has actually occurred, for this reason I choose to use ‘course ground roasted dandelion and chicory root’. The chicory root will discolour the water giving peace of mind that solution is ready to consume!

For therapeutic solutions, dandelion can be consumed as dandelion leaf tea or dandelion root tea, or even by blending the fresh leaves with vegetables or fruit juices. An infusion of 1 teaspoon of ground dandelion root to 2 cups of boiling water, leave to steep for about ten minutes, and consume freely several times a day. Sweeten to taste with honey if desired. Alternatively, an infusion of five or six fresh leaves to 2 cups of boiling water, leave to steep for about ten minutes, can also be consumed freely several times a day.

A dandelion wash to relieve inflamed eyes, facial blemishes, or eczema flare ups can be prepared using the same steeping method as above and allowing to cool, this time using the dandelion leaves, stems and flowers. The white sap from the stems, if placed on warts several times a day is a powerful solution causing the warts to shrivel and eventually disappear.

* Please Note:
The use of herbs is an ancestral approach to treating disease and strengthening the immune system. Please be aware that herbal dietary supplements can trigger side effects in certain individuals, or interact with other supplements, or medications. To err on the side of caution, individuals should consult with their healthcare professional prior to embarking upon alternative medicinal treatments.