Taraxacum officinale, F.H. Wigg, Asteraceae, Dandelion, Blowball, Lion’s Teeth, Chicora
Spring Plant Medicine
I love studying ways to stay healthy by eating seasonally. And I want to get to know how I can incorporate wild, seasonal plants into my diet like the wild dandelion. Most of the time they hold nutrients we need most and the wild edibles are naturally growing to help get us through whatever imbalances the season throws at us. I learned the importance of this recently from a course about the Chinese tao on vitality presented by Colin Hudon of Living Tea.
He talks about how spring is the time of regrowth and movement. Saying it is important to get the body flowing to remove built-up stagnation from the wintertime. The liver, lymph nodes, and blood need a chance to cleanse. And dandelion was one of the herbs mentioned that is great for this time of year. (Hudon) And since I have my very own dandelion patch growing in the backyard I was excited to try the fresh herb and learn more about what it can do.
How I Used Dandelion:
I gathered some of the leaves and blanched them and added them to ramen with shitake, bok choy, purple carrot, spring garlic, onion, and tofu. It tasted extremely nourishing and the bitter flavor went really well with the rest of the meal.
Then I did a hot infusion with the leaf. I thought it was going to be really bitter but it wasn’t at all. It tasted really good and I could feel it start to ease stagnation in my bowls. Another thing I am excited to try is my dandelion leaf tincture that I made. I feel like it is going to be super useful to have on hand.
The common dandelion was referred to as Pens Lenois in the 16th century. (Clos) Dandelion is originally from western Europe and northern Asia. (Escuardo)
To my surprise dandelion is a species that did not originate in the United States. It came over from Europe and now it’s just about in every single person’s backyard. And it was commonly used as a food source for early Americans and Native Americans. The settlers prepared the greens by first boiling them in water and then chilled them before eating them. They also dried the roots and roasted them to use as a substitute for coffee and tea. (Eric)
Also the Chinese use dandelion to treat colds. In ancient texts in Arabia the diuretic properties were noted. The tea was traditionally used to cleanse the gallbladder and liver.
Further research revealed that the greens helped aid digestion, and relieve the stomach. And was used as a blood thinner, purifier, and tonic. Dandelion wine was also commonly made to help calm the measles. (Eric)
Traditional Medicine Methods
The Cherokee used the root in tea to treat heartburn and indigestion. And was traditionally a common beverage they drank regularly. They dug up and dried the roots in the fall and roasted and used as a tonic and as food. (Eric)
Grandfather’s dandelion wine was also a commonly known concoction which was made with the blossoms. Grandmother’s were known to coat the blossoms and stems in flour, milk, and egg to fry them up into dandelion fritters. (Eric)
Chemical properties include: sesquiterpene lactones, eudesmanolides, germacranolides, guaianolides, pheny-propanoids, phenolic acids, flavonoids, apigenin, luteolin. Chrysoeriol, coumarins, scopoletin, aesculetin, cinnamic acid esters, hydroxycinnamic acid. Triterpenes, b- amyrin, taraxol, taraxerol, carotenoids, tutein, phytosterols, sitosterol, stigmasterol, taraxasterol, polysaccharide, inulin. (Kane, 120)
Dandelion As Food
Research done by Steiner in 1986 found that the chemical Taxaxacerin had an antibiotic action. And the diuretic properties helped relieve menstrual bloating, and high blood pressure.
Also the leaves and roots carry more vitamin A than a carrot. The vitamin and fiber content are viewed as a great way to prevent colon and intestine cancer. (Eric)
Nora Escuardo further researched dandelion as a food source in 2003. She found that weight loss can be a direct result of the diuretic and laxative properties of dandelion. It also contains a valuable source of fiber, minerals, carbohydrates, lipids, protein, potassium, and essential fatty acids. And she encouraged the use the greens in salad, especially in food desert areas that don’t have easy access to healthy foods. (Escuardo)
Kane Further explains that the dandelion stimulates gastric and hepatic biliary. The tea and tincture is taken before meals as a bitter tonic to help increase digestion and gastric secretion. Which helps the bile digest small intestinal fat. It is also very cooling to the liver and the bile production helps easier release of the gallbladder and helps prevent gallstone development. Combined with milk thistle the liver inflammation can be reduced which also helps release tension in the upper body, itchy eyes, and skin irritations related to the liver. (Kane, 120)
The Gut Bacteria Supplement You Have Been Searching For
Another interesting medical property to look into is the inulin content. Which helps the body digest complex carbohydrates. While also promoting beneficial microflora growth which helps stabilize the large intestine and limits pathogen bacteria from destroying good gut bacteria. (Kane,120)
Dandelion can be used to help treat gout, leaky gut syndrome, gallstones, kidney stones, and overall intestinal health. But do not use it if there is a biliary blockage. (Kane, 120-121)
Why We Need To Eat More Dandelion
It is amazing that most of us have stomach problems yet we don’t know about the simplest remedy that is natural and growing abundantly everywhere we look. What a shame that the use of dandelion is not common knowledge. It would tremendously help with so much pain that is caused by the all-American lifestyle. I am excited to know more about it and share this knowledge with as many people as I can. Such a powerful and delicious herb.
*Disclaimer: Be careful when harvesting dandelion and make sure you are sourcing from a place that wasn’t sprayed with pesticides. What happens to plant medicine when it is sprayed with pesticides? It turns into poison. Also always be 100% sure when harvesting wild plants to eat. You never know when there is a poisonous look a like.
If you like plant medicine content I think you will like this post about the mystical blue lotus.
Clos, M. (1907). Historique du Taraxacum officinale [Scholarly project]. In Archive. Retrieved April 30, 2021, from https://archive.org/details/biostor-156530/page/n1/mode/2up
ERIC. (1993). A Manual of Cherokee Herbal Remedies: History, Information, Identification, Medicinal Healing[Scholarly project]. In Archive. Retrieved April 30, 2021, from https://archive.org/details/ERIC_ED396878/page/n75/mode/2up
Escudero, N. L. (2003, September). Taraxacum officinale as a food source [Scholarly project]. In Research Gate. Retrieved April 30, 2021, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/226267173_Taraxacum_officinale_as_a_food_source
Hudon, C. (Director). (2021, April 21). VITALITY: The 12 essentials of true health [Video file]. Retrieved April 30, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1i6a8Ld0-s
Kane, C. W. (2017). Medicinal plants of the western mountain states. In Medicinal plants of the western mountain states(pp. 119-121). Tucson: Lincoln Town Press.