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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Herb of the Week - Dandelion

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) 5-30 cm (2-12 ins).

Dandelion is a common weed that grows widely throughout the northern hemisphere in pastures, meadows and lawns, mostly in temperate climates. The name "dandelion" means "lion’s tooth"—a reference to the jagged, tooth-like edges of the plant's leaves.

Dandelion flowers are sensitive to light, so they open with the sun in the morning and close in the evening or during gloomy weather. The dark brown roots are fleshy and brittle and are filled with a white milky substance that is bitter and slightly odorous.

Although dandelion is considered a weed, its roots and tops are often used for medicinal purposes. It's also consumed as a food. Different parts of the plant can be eaten as a vegetable (leaves); used to make a coffee-substitute (roots) or fermented into wine (blossoms).

Dandelion has been used to improve gallbladder function, to stimulate digestion glands, and to combat rheumatism and gout.
Among other things, dandelion root and other parts of the dandelion have been used as a gentle laxative, a digestive aid, to treat liver and kidney problems and to relieve inflammation, boils, fever and diarrhea. Dandelion root is known to stimulate the appetite and promote digestion. While the dandelion is still regarded as a noxious weed here in America, in Europe dandelion greens are often added to salads and used in the same way as lettuce and other greens, and dandelion root is believed to help regulate blood sugar levels.

What Dandelion Root Does:
Dandelion root provides vitamin A ( even more than spinach!), vitamin C, vitamin D and vitamin B complex, as well as zinc, iron and potassium. Because of its iron content, it is widely used as a remedy for liver ailments, and has a diuretic effect that can help rid the liver of toxins. Potassium is also necessary for proper kidney function, and can help lower blood pressure. Vitamins A, C and B complex are all important for heart health, and there is some suggestion that dandelion root may help lower cholesterol.

Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin A and the B complex vitamins, also have antioxidant properties. For this reason, a number of ongoing studies are examining its effectiveness in fighting tumors and preventing cancer. The early results are mixed, but promising.

- Because of its high iron and zinc content, dandelion root is often used as a treatment for anemia.
- Dandelion root has mild laxative properties and is often used to help maintain regularity.
- Dandelion root is also a mild appetite stimulant, and teas made from dandelion root and leaves are often used to help relieve digestive problems like flatulence, fullness and constipation.
- The B vitamin family in particular helps stabilize moods and is often recommended to those suffering from depression. Dandelion root is a high source of B complex vitamins.
- Because of its positive effects on the liver and digestion, dandelion root may help boost the effectiveness of other vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

Parts Used:
Dandelion leaves produce a diuretic effect while the roots act as an antiviral agent, appetite stimulant, digestive aid, and may help promote gastrointestinal health. Dandelion flower has antioxidant properties. Dandelion may also help improve the immune system.

Health care providers clinically use dandelion root to promote liver detoxification and dandelion leaves to support kidney function.

Available Forms:
Dandelion herbs and roots are available fresh or dried in a variety of forms, including tinctures, liquid extract, teas, tablets, and capsules. Dandelion can be found alone or in combination dietary supplements.
Dandelion root is available as a freeze-dried herb, in capsules, in liquid extracts/tinctures or teas. Dandelion leaves can also be consumed in supplement form, or else eaten raw (typically as a salad green).

Here is an article that explains how to harvest and roast the root to make your own coffee substitute:
How to Roast Dandelion Root- Coffee Substitute

(use this link for the following recipes)
Dandelion Recipes to Obtain its Health Benefits

-Dandelion Root Tea or Dandelion Tea Recipe
-Dandelion Flower Tea Recipe
-Dandelion Salad Recipe
-Dandelion Root Coffee Recipe
-Dandelion Wine Recipe
I bet you never knew that common weed could be so good for you.... and tasty too!

Dandelion side effects

Though dandelion is generally safe and gentle, some people may have an allergic reaction to the milky latex in the stem and leaves. Dandelion root should not be taken with pharmaceutical diuretics or drugs that have a diuretic action. People who are taking medications for diabetes should use dandelion with caution, as it may intensify the blood sugar lowering effects of those drugs.

General Safety Advisory
The information in these documents do not replace medical advice.
Before taking an herb or a botanical, consult a doctor or other health care provider -- especially if you have a disease or medical condition, take any medications, are pregnant or nursing, or are planning to have an operation.
Before treating a child with an herb or a botanical, consult with a doctor or other health care provider.
Like drugs, herbal or botanical preparations have chemical and biological activity. They may have side effects. They may interact with certain medications. These interactions can cause problems and can even be dangerous.
If you have any unexpected reactions to an herbal or a botanical preparation, inform your doctor or other health care provider


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