Health Benefits of Dandelions
“There is an unhealthy obsession with trying to eradicate this weed, this nourishing food, for a lawn.”
Dandelion – The Queen of all Weeds
\Dandelion is one of the most abundant weeds out there, growing everywhere it can. And instead of knowing all about the benefits of danelion living right outside the front door, we’ve been trained to have a very strong dislike for it. How about instead we learn all about dandelions health benefits.
Let’s put an end to the mission of wiping out all the dandelions in favor of a lawn. And then there’s the spraying of endless amounts of pesticides to get rid of the dandelions that definitely needs to stop!
When it gets down to it, how can we really dislike something with such gorgeous sun-like looking flowers. Those leaves, oh my goodness, they’re literally a bitter super green rich in minerals, especially potassium. And their roots are a gentle liver cleanser that supports healthy bowel movements.
So instead of waging war on them, let’s stop to learn all about the benefits of dandelions.
We might be surprised to find this weed is actually a pretty powerful medicinal friend!
- Thank you, nature, for once again providing me with something so magnificent for my health.
You don’t need to go to the ends of the earth for the next hottest superfood. There’s one in your backyard so let’s celebrate it.
Dandelion – The Queen of Weeds
Therefore, let me introduce you to Dandelion: Taraxacum officinalis for you latin lovers!
Dandelion is by far one of the most nourishing food/herbs we have the privilege of enjoying.
Dandelion is certainly one of the most beneficial herbs I’ve learned about in the last 20 years, and I know a lot of herbs.
It is cooling, bitter – esp. the leaves; and mildly sweet – esp. the roots.
It helps to clear heat (inflammation) and support the release of toxins and breakdown products of normal physiology through its direct action on the liver, gallbladder and kidneys…hence the superbness of this herb.
The Many Health Benefits of Dandelions
Dandelion leaf benefits:
Literally dandelion leaves are the ultimate healthy green, rich in vitamins and minerals (so long kale). They are extremely bitter which means they are great for your liver and gallbladder. See delicious dandelion recipe below.
Speaking of minerals, dandelion is a potassium sparing diuretic.
- This means it will help you pee more, which is a good thing as the kidneys are a primary place the body detoxifies and releases excess fluid. However, dandelion leaf won’t also deplete you of potassium – a common side effect for those on diuretics to control blood pressure.
- Here’s the problem with diuretic medications, potassium is SUPER important to Cardiovascular Health (well really all health), as it is one of the main electrolytes in the body.
- Muscles need electrolytes! Your heart is a muscle. So losing potassium is not really a great goal, but more an unfortunate side effect of how diuretics work.
Dandelion root benefits:
Dandelion roots are mildly bitter – absolutely nothing like the leaves though (wink)
They assist digestion and promote a healthy appetite – likely through its direct action on bile and bile secretion
- Cholagogue = helps the body produce bile
- Choleretic = helps the body move bile
Mild laxative – likely due to its prebiotic effect. Dandelion contains Polysaccharides, commonly referred to as inulin.
- I would not consider this effect to be noticeable to most people, but rather beneficial.
- So the prebiotics help make the stool regular versus acting like what most people think of with the term laxative (got to go!)
Why use it?
You should think about dandelion first and foremost for supporting liver and kidney detoxification pathways, in a gentle way for nearly all healthy people.
It is far and away a NOURISHING SuperFOOD!
So if you have no health complaints, but you want to stay healthy, use dandelion leaves and roots regularly to nourish you!
Next you can think about dandelion for more medicinal purposes, for the following conditions:
- Blood pressure: the leaves help reduce edema (swelling), while sparing the loss of potassium
- Edema/swelling: same as above
- Arthritis: often an inflammatory condition, the roots can support a healthy liver and digestive system which is the foundation of inflammation reduction
- Gout: similar to above
- Blood sugar: the roots support healthy prebiotic activity in the digestive system
- Skin issues such as rashes, red inflamed skin, eczema: the action on the liver and reducing inflammation is how this works
- Liver conditions
Dandelion may be contraindicated in those with bile duct conditions as it supports the release and flow of bile. So if you have the following issues you would definitely want to consult your qualified healthcare practitioner: obstruction, acute gallstones, and intestinal blockage.
Dandelion Leaf Recipe – Good for ya greens!
Get a local bunch of organic dandelion greens – from coop, grocery store or an unsprayed yard!
What you’ll also need: olive oil, garlic and a slice of lemon (or two),
- Rinse greens if they appear dirty
- Tear or chop up into bite size pieces – should get about 4 cups raw
- Finely chop 2-3 cloves of garlic
- Heat olive oil on low in a saucepan
- When warm, add greens and garlic
- Stir-fry just long enough for the greens to wilt and get nicely heated up: 5-7 minutes
- Remove from pan, add a squeeze of lemon and stir
- Serve warm
- Enjoy these bitter greens regularly!
NOTE: these greens are BITTER! If they are too much on their own, then mix them with another green you regularly eat such as kale, collards, or chard. Goal here is to learn to eat as much as you can!
Other variations on this recipe (from my Italian heritage) include: adding stewed tomatoes to the pan with the dandelion greens and garlic, and allowing to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
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