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Dandelion

  • Taraxacum officinale L.
  • Leontodon taaraxacum, Wigers
  • Compositae
  • Composite family



Common Names

herbsBlow ball
herbsCankerwort
herbsLion's tooth
herbsPriest's crown
herbsPuff ball
herbsPu gong ying
herbsPu-kung-ying
herbsSwine snout
herbsWhite endive
herbsWild endive


Parts Usually Used

Roots, tops, and leaves.


Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Description is hardly necessary. A familiar weed; 2-18 inches tall. A small rosette-forming perennial plant with a long thin taproot and a clump of entire or sinuate leaves. Flowering, leafless, stalk is hollow, with milky juice. The leaves are jagged-cut. Flowers are yellow; March to September, or sporadically all year. Seeds form "clocks" round balls of seeds with parachutes of hairs.


Where Found

The golden-yellow flower-heads of this poor, despised plant brighten up fields, hedgerows and many a drab piece of land. Found on lawns, waste places, throughout the United States and Canada. Native of Europe, found in most of the world.


Medicinal Properties

Alterative, cholagogue (increase the flow of bile), deobstruent, diuretic, stomachic, hepatic, laxative, tonic, aperient, (a very mild laxative), liver and digestive tonic.


Biochemical Information

Biotin, calcium, choline, fats, gluten, gum, inositol, inulin, iron, lactupicrine, linolenic acid, magnesium, niacin, PABA, phosphorus, potash, proteins, resin, sulfur, vitamins A, B1, B2, B5, B6, B9, B12, C, E, and P, and zinc.

Leaves: bitter glycosides, carotenoids, terpenoids, choline, potassium salts, iron and other minerals, vitamins A, B, C, D, G. (contain 7,000 units of Vitamin A per oz.) (compared with lettuce, 1,200 units per oz. and carrot, 1275 per oz.)

Root: bitter glycosides, tannins, triterpenes, sterols, volatile oil, choline, asparagin, inulin.


Legends, Myths and Stories

Potassium is often flushed from the body when synthetic diuretics are taken. But dandelion has an abundance of potassium to off-set this problem.

The feathery seed balls of the dandelion were once used by young girls to determine if their true loves were really true. They would blow on the dandelion fuzzy ball 3 times; if at least one of the fuzzy seeds remained, it was taken as an omen that her sweetheart was thinking about her.

Culpeper says dandelion is "vulgarly called Piss-a-Beds."

Since the 7th century, the Chinese have known about the antibacterial properties of the juice of the dandelion. Researchers recently discovered that dandelion may protect against cirrhosis of the liver. In Europe, the dandelion first appears as being used medicinally in 1485. The name dandelion was invented by a 15th century surgeon, who compared the shape of the leaves to a lion's tooth, or dens leonis. Old timers called dandelion the "King of Weeds."

A French authority claimed that the flowers and stems of dandelion are "enormously rich in estrogen." Dandelion was brought to the New World by the early colonists. They used the whole plant. The flowers made wine, the leaves made salads, the stems and roots dried and used medicinally. According to stories, dandelion never grows where there are no human inhabitants. The early pioneers found no trace of them in western America. After a few years, up sprang a dandelion head and soon there were millions of them. Native Americans learned to love them and would walk miles to gather them if they could not be found locally.

Dandelion coffee is made of high quality roots, now grown on specialized farms. Proper harvesting, drying and skillful roasting methods give dandelion a remarkable roasted flavor that many people readily accept as a coffee substitute. Dandelion coffee has been found to be of benefit to dyspeptic people, who cannot tolerate real coffee. The roasted root has no caffeine, so drink it as often as desired, even as a night cap.

Roasted dandelion root has almost a magical effect upon milk. Steep 1 heaping tsp. of roasted root in 1 cup of hot, not boiling, milk, for 5 to 10 minutes and strain. Sweeten if desired. The resultant liquid tastes like rich cream. Of course with fewer calories. Try on breakfast cereals, it is great. Also, try this dandelion milk in recipes that call for milk as an ingredient.

Add 1/4 tsp. powdered licorice to give dandelion milk a pleasant tang.


Uses

A mildly bitter herb that cleanses the bloodstream and liver and increases the production of bile. A natural diuretic and digestive aid. Improves function of the pancreas, spleen, stomach and kidneys. Take for anemia, gall bladder problems, gout, rheumatism, jaundice, anemia, cirrhosis, typhoid fever, neuralgia, hepatitis, abscesses, boils, decayed teeth, snakebites, cramps, fluid retention, constipation, and breast tumors.

May aid in the prevention of breast cancer and age spots. Reduces serum cholesterol, and uric acid. The greatest benefit of this herb is to help detoxify any poisons in the liver, but is also has been beneficial in lowering blood pressure. Root is one of the best remedies for treatment of hepatitis and may be a possible preventative for breast cancer.

Recommended for treating arthritis; it is said to disperse acidic deposits from the affected joints. To benefit from this herb, the leaves (slightly bitter) should be eaten raw in salads; or prepare an infusion in the usual way. Also, the 'milk' from the hollow stalks of this plant may be applied with good effect to all pimples, canker sores, ulcers, edema, and sores.

Dried root thought to be weaker, often roasted as coffee substitute. Dried leaf tea is a folk laxative. Experimentally, root is hypoglycemic, weak antibiotic against yeast infections (Candida albican), stimulates flow of bile and weight loss. All plant parts have served as food. Leaves and flowers are rich in vitamins A and C. Boil leaves and serve like spinach.

In Chinese medicine, dandelion is regarded as a blood cleanser, tonic, diabetes, and digestive aid. It is ground and applied as a poultice to snake bites.


Formulas or Dosages

Combine dandelion root, ginseng, and ginger root taken along with a sound nutritional diet will help people suffering from low blood sugar. Take a cup of this blend of tea, using either extracts or dried herbs, 3 times a day. The white sap from fresh plants is corrosive and can be effective against warts.

Hearty spring salads are quite effective. Gather the fresh dandelion leaves, the young stinging nettle leaves (Urtica dioica), and the birch leaves that are just unfolding. Mince the leaves and add this healthful green seasoning to any clear or thickened soup, vegetable stew, or salad shortly before serving. Sprinkle the finely chopped dandelion leaves onto a piece of buttered bread, mix them with farmer's cheese or another soft cheese, or put them on potatoes. If eaten regularly, you will be stimulating your body metabolism.

Dandelion root tea: Pour 8 oz. (1/4 L) of cold water over 2 heaping tsp. of the root plus aerial parts, bring slowly to a boil, let steep for 10 to 15 minutes, then strain. Drink 2 cups of tea per day; after breakfast or with breakfast, and before going to bed.

Fresh dandelion juice makes a good spring tonic. Flowers make dandelion wine.


Nutrient Content

Calcium, fats, iron, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, proteins, vitamins A, B1, B2, B5, B6, B9, B12, C, E, and P, and zinc. Rich in potassium and lecithin.


How Sold

Capsules: take 1 capsule 3 times per day.

Extract: mix 10 to 30 drops in juice or water daily.


Warning

Contact dermatitis reported from handling the plant, probably caused by the latex in the stems and leaves.

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