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Dandelion

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TARAXACUM OFFICINALIS

This common herb hardly needs any description, yet there are a few varieties, so to avoid confusion I will say that we are talking about the type with jagged edged and hairless leaves.

It is these jagged leaves that supposedly gave this plant the name lion, from the French dent de lion, although there are many theories on this. I like to think that it’s the yellow mane-like flowers.

It is native to Europe but has become naturalized in North America, considered an invasive weed by many. It proliferates in disturbed sites at low to middle elevations in North temperate climates. The seeds spread easily by wind. For personal use, wild harvesting in unsprayed areas away from traffic is fine but Dandelion is easily grown as a crop from seed. The flower heads should be topped before going to seed to promote root and leaf growth and avoid over-proliferation in your garden (and that of your neighbors). Young leaves for the pot are gathered before maturity but larger healthy ones can be used for medicine. The second year roots are dug in autumn. Distinct season changes result in a higher medicinal action. Individual plants may be grown indoors in winter for blanched greens. The roots may be chopped to facilitate drying.

The bitter principles are more active in the wild root.

Uses

This amazing herb really needs to be raised from its lowly position in the average persons’ esteem to a place of respect, reverence even! Dandelion root is a broad terrain alterative, clearing obstructions of the spleen, pancreas, lymph, gallbladder, urinary bladder and kidneys. As a result, many associated conditions like stubborn skin conditions (acne, eczema, and dermatitis), headaches, arthritis, swollen glands, irritable moods, depression, etc may show improvement. It is effective in treating a sluggish, congested liver, gall stones, sluggish digestion, especially after an illness, hepatitis recovery, jaundice, urinary tract infections, oliguria, chronic constipation, intestinal gas, some causes of hypertension, and high cholesterol. In helping the liver to eliminate hormonal excesses, it can be of benefit in adolescence, menopause, endometriosis, and abnormal growths in breast and other reproductive tissues.

Although they are much interchangeable, the root is predominately used for liver support, and the leaf is used for urinary tract complaints, and as the ideal diuretic for its potassium content.

Cautions and Considerations

  • There may be some consideration given to the use of Dandelion in the presence of large gall stones.

  • As with other cholagogues, avoid use in bile duct closure.

  • Rarely, there may be allergic reaction in those with ragweed (Asteraceae) allergy.

  • This plant is considered to be completely safe for long term use, and is in fact

recommended for such as a nutritive, even for mother and child.

  • Even small doses may promote emotional healing crisis through energetic effects on the liver.

  • May increase pain in those with hyper-secretion or hypertonicity of the digestive tract.

How to Use Dandelion

  • Fresh juice is taken in doses of 1-4 tsp.

  • 1 tsp of dried leaves or 3 tsp fresh, are steeped in 1 cup of boiled water for 15 min and taken in doses of ½ to 1 cup freely.

  • 1 tsp of dried root or 3 tsp of fresh, is simmered gently for 15 minutes and taken in doses of ½ to 1 cup freely.

  • Fresh leaves may be added to salads as desired or cooked as a pot herb. Soaked in salted water for 30min, leaves loose much of their bitterness (skip this if bitter effect is desired).

  • The powder may be taken in capsules or tablets of 500mg three times per day.

  • A tincture is often made in a 1:5 ratio and may be taken in doses of 5ml three times per day to a maximum of 100ml per week.

Constituents

Sesquiterpene lactones; Triterpenes; Phenolic acids; Polysaccharides; Carotenoids – the vitamin A content is higher than in carrots; Miscellaneous – protein, sugars, pectin, choline, thiamine, riboflavin, Vitamin C, sodium, potassium, fats, iron, inulin

Good Combinations

The leaf is well-combined with other herbs for urinary tract disorders, like Bearberry, Horsetail, Buchu, Corn silk, and Marshmallow.

The root is effective with other liver and digestive herbs, like Milk thistle and Artichoke. It works well with Burdock and Red Clover for skin disorders.

With Carduus marianum to support hepatocyte health, with Curcuma longa to reduce lever inflammation and increase antioxidant protection, with Arctium lappa for nutrition, strengthening, immune stimulation, to support detoxification, treat hypoglycaemia, and inhibit tumor growth. Berberis aquafolium is another very common plant in our area, and although usually employed specifically for skin problems, it is worth mentioning as it supports liver function and contains berberine alkaloids; albeit in lesser amounts than Hydrastis, but will still benefit mucous membrane health.

Interesting Tidbits

* The root is often roasted and ground as a coffee substitute.

* The flower head are commonly used for wine making.

* The flower, when rubbed on the nose can predict the enjoyment of butter. : )

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