The Secret Health Benefits of Dandelion
In this day and age, it seems odd to some that so many people could be so completely unaware of the benefits to be gained from those pesky dandelions you’re always trying to eradicate from your lawn.
For many, a dandelion is a weed, but to others, it’s a great medicine as well a culinary addition to many delightful dishes you can make right at home.
One author claims that every part of the dandelion can be used either for a food or medicine.
Start by washing dandelions as you’d wash any other fruit or veggie, and the flowers, leaves, even the roots, can be added to salads, hot or iced teas, syrups, salves, and the list just goes on.
Many use dandelion as a treatment for those muscle aches that seem to plague us more and more as we grow older.
Some claim that dandelions can help those suffering from loss of appetite, intestinal gas and even upset stomach. It can also increase bowel activity, so be careful.
Many use dandelion to treat skin infections, and even as a tonic to aid digestion.
Notes About Consuming Dandelions
A word of warning: Although teaching your kids the benefits of dandelions along with other commonly misunderstood herbs, can be not only informative but lots of fun, an important fact for the youngsters to learn and remember is the proper identification of dandelions.
Dandelions have some wannabe impostor breeds lurking around. The real thing has no spines or hairs on the leaves. There are no leaves on the dandelion stems, only around the base, and a real dandelion has only one flower.
It’s also very important to make sure your dandelions haven’t been sprayed with toxic chemicals or pesticides if you're going to consume them.
If you’re ready and willing to give dandelions a chance, you’ll find more and more dandelion recipes online.
You’ll learn a lot more about blood sugar balance, healthy skin, gut health, good digestion and how they also help keep your hormone levels in balance.
Dandelions Put Into Practice
Some believe that dandelions can be an inexpensive and helpful treatment for infections such as viral infections and even treatment of various cancers.
In the kitchen, cooks chop dandelion greens for use as a garnish or even as an addition to some of their sauces. The greens may also be eaten 'croque-au-sel'
(just plain and raw, with or without a bit of salt, but watch that salt intake too.)
Others swear by drinking dandelion tea. For that, they combine root, stems and the flowers to make a super-healthy and tasty tea concoction that many people love.
Broken down into its chemical components, the entire dandelion can be eaten raw, (or any other way you choose to use it), and although the list is too long to include here, every part of the dandelion is chock full of vitamins, and we’re talking about the vitamins and minerals our bodies need and use every day.
Did we mention that a cup of dandelion greens has only 25 calories and no high cholesterol? If that's not a healthy snack in its own way, we're not sure what is.
Since dandelion tea helps remove excess sugar, being a diuretic, it can be very helpful in fighting diabetes. As you may know, these days diabetes is getting to be
so common and alarming that it might almost be called a national epidemic now.
Preparing and Storing Dandelions
Once you’ve gathered your dandelions, deep roots and all, and have thoroughly cleaned them, they can be stored in the refrigerator for at least a week.
Some suggest wrapping the greens in a damp paper towel, but here’s a little tip: Produce, including lettuce, peppers, carrots, and yes, dandelions, will all hold up much better if you first wash them in cold running water, and then wrap them in a terry towel or paper towel and refrigerate for an hour or so.
Then, simply remove the produce from the refrigerator, get rid of the wrappings and re-wrap the produce tightly in a plastic wrap such as Saran Wrap.
Having done that, you’ll find that your produce will stay crisp and fresh for a much longer time, imparting its health benefits much more completely.
When you’ve chopped or torn up greens for a salad (including dandelion greens, naturally), follow the same procedure. Let sit in the refrigerator for an hour or so before unwrapping the greens, or adding in any other ingredients. You’ll find
your salad greens to be crisp, dry and much better-tasting.
Some add dandelion greens to other ingredients such as basil, parsley, etc. as a condiment for grilled or baked seafood. You could easily give that trick a try, too.
With a little imagination and experimentation, you’d be amazed at the multitude of different and exciting uses for any and all parts of dandelions.
Some make dandelion vinegar, dandelion honey, and even dandelion syrup. What will be your next big discovery to write a blog about using dandelions for?
One caveat: If you already take “water pills” you should discuss consuming dandelion with your medical provider. Always seek the appropriate counsel first.
Too much lithium and/or potassium in your body is not good. Dandelions may possibly decrease the speed at which the liver absorbs some medications.
If you’re one of those unlucky people who have to take a lot of medications, you should discuss the matter in detail with your health care provider.
Some of the medications that could be affected by consumption of dandelions include haloperidol, theophylline, amitriptyline, ondansetron, and verapamil.
Most consumers won’t be affected, but still, it’s better to be safe than sorry later.
Generally speaking, the best time to harvest the flowers is in the morning or early in the afternoon while the blooms remain open. Shortly before the sun sets they close up shop. The legend goes that this acts as a clock telling shepherds on the mountain (or dandelion pickers like you) that it’s time to head back home for the night.
One last hint: It’s smart to leave pieces of the root in the ground when you’re harvesting dandelions. That will ensure that the plant will more likely grow back for a better harvest in the future. Good luck and good health!
- Rosalee La Forêt, “Alchemy of Herbs”.
- Dr. Axe, “Food is Medicine”.