Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis)
Dandelion comes under the category of bitter herbs. As we know, it grows in fields and meadows, and flowers throughout the summer and is considered the beekeepers most loyal friend. There are an endless amount of uses for this herb, from cancer prevention to weight loss. Chinese physicians have prescribed dandelion since ancient times, for colds, hepatitis, dental problems and internal injuries. In ancient times, a poultice was made with chopped dandelion to treat breast cancer.
It is believed that these bitter principles stimulate the initial phase of digestion and release salivary and gastric juices. It works to strengthen the stomach, helps improve digestion and is involved in stimulating the release of bile from the liver and the release of bile from the gallbladder. It is a natural source of potassium and the leaves are rich in iron, which help clear up imperfections on the skin.
PMS and High Blood Pressure
It is also a powerful diuretic, which herbalists use to support women with PMS and also high blood pressure and in initial weight loss to eliminate water weight.
As a cancer preventative, consuming Dandelion tea daily, contains a major source of Vitamin A and also some vitamin C. These vitamins are antioxidants that help prevent the cell damage scientists believe eventually cause disease.
The young leaves of the Dandelion can be eaten in a salad or boiled as a vegetable, and are now available in most Farmers Markets. Dandelion leaves are often eaten on the Continent, especially in France. Due to the extreme bitterness of the full-grown leaves, they should not be taken. But the young leaves make an excellent salad, either alone or combined with other plants, such as lettuce, shallot tops or chives.
Jenny’s Clinic stocks many herbs including dandelion roots as an alternative to coffee. It can also be mixed with a little real coffee for an interesting taste. To make your own dandelion coffee, in the autumn, dig down deep into the soil and take the roots that are least divided. Wash thoroughly and dry in artificial heat and grind them down with a pestle and mortar or a coffee grinder. Do not cut them as much of the medicinal use is held within the milky juice of the stems.
Dandelion should be a welcome addition to any diet. This ‘weed’ is one of the best herbs available to us most of the year round, and right on our doorstep.