Dandelions Are North America’s Native MedicineJun 11, 2021 ● By Gina Saka
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Dandelions are those pretty, little, yellow flowers commonly referred to as “weeds”, which are routinely removed and discarded from lawns across the country. The truth is, dandelions are not weeds at all, but completely edible flowers with powerful medicinal benefits. The plant is native to North America and Eurasia, and has been used as food and medicine for thousands of years. The roots, leaves, stems and flowers all have vitamins and minerals that support a healthy body and mind.
Dandelions contain high levels of vitamins K, C, A and B6 that support a healthy, balanced diet. There’s also a significant amount of iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium that help regulate blood pressure and produce healthy, red blood cells. Here are the benefits and uses of each part of this miracle flower:
Dandelion roots have long been used to treat liver and stomach issues, and today are commonly used to treat heartburn, gastrointestinal disorders, high cholesterol, diabetes and more. They contain bitter compounds that work as a mild laxative to aid with digestion.
Usage: Typically, the raw dried or fresh root is brewed into a tea or infusion. Additionally, the root can be made into a poultice and applied topically to ease acne, eczema, rashes and other skin conditions.
The dandelion flowers contain high levels of polyphenols, which help fight against cardiovascular disease and cancer. Plus, there are tons of antioxidants in addition to vitamin A and B12 content. The flowers can help relieve headaches, muscle cramps and even boost mood. In Korean folklore, they were used as a powerful antidote to skin infections and tuberculosis.
Usage: Dandelion flowers, like the roots, can be used in teas and tincture, in addition to infused into syrups, honeys, wines and cordials. Also, the sweet and crunchy flower can be eaten raw, breaded or fried. Even the sap from the stem of the flower can be used topically to treat rough skin, calluses, corns and warts.
Dandelion leaves, also known as dandelion greens, are the greens that grow in abundance directly around the flower. They are packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that help protect vision, control blood sugar, encourage wound healing, protect heart health and prevent certain types of cancer. They’re dense in vitamins A, C, K and calcium.
Usage: Dandelion greens are popularly used in salads. The taste is a bit earthy and bitter, kind of similar to radicchio. In a salad, they can be consumed raw and slightly massaged to make them more tender with lemon or dressing. Alternatively, the greens can also be sauteed with garlic and oil for a nutritious side to any meal.
Dandelions are a true medicinal flower that grow abundantly here in the USA. If one picks dandelions for consumption, they must be sure that the lawn has not been treated with any fertilizer or toxic chemicals. In addition, they should make sure that they are not allergic to dandelion or dandelion pollen. If unsure, avoid consumption. Teas and poultices, as well as the flowers and greens, can also be found in many health food stores and organic markets.
Gina Saka is a freelance writer located in San Diego who writes for Natural Awakenings magazine editions across the country. To connect, email [email protected].
Dandelion Tea Recipes
Dandelion is not only incredibly simple to forage, but most of this powerful healing plant gets to be used. While the root is the most commonly used, the leaf or flower can be used as well. Whether making an infusion, decoction, gold extract, juice, tincture or tea, one is sure to reap the benefits of this plant.
The following are two ways to make dandelion tea:
Dandelion Leaf Tea
1 tsp dandelion leaf
1 cup boiling water
½ tsp stevia, agave or raw honey
Add dandelion leaf to boiling water. Cover and steep for 10 minutes. Strain and serve. To reduce the bitterness, add stevia, agave or raw honey.
Dandelion Root Tea
1 quart boiling water
1-2 tsp dandelion root
Bring to boil 1 quart of water in a saucepan. Add 1-2 tsp of dandelion root to boiling water. Cover pot and reduce heat. Simmer for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and let pot sit covered for approximately 45 minutes. Strain and serve.
Dandelion Spring Salad
Yield: 4 servings
1 Tbsp virgin olive oil
1 tsp juice from a lemon
1 tsp raw honey
2 tsp chopped garlic scapes or wild (sprigs)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
2 cups organic dandelion
(rinsed and pat dry)
2 chopped tomatoes
1 oz parmesan cheese
A few dandelion flowers (rinse and pat dry)
Whisk the oil, lemon juice, honey, garlic, salt and pepper in a small mixing bowl. Taste for salt/pepper if you wish. Put the dandelion leaves and tomatoes in the bowl and toss to combine. Sprinkle cheese on top. Garnish with dandelion flowers.
Source: Shae Marcus, owner/publisher of Natural Awakenings South Jersey.