We are all familiar with the Dandelion plant – that pesky weed that takes over our yard and spreads its seeds in little white puff-balls all over the place. Most consider it a nuisance and nothing more. But what you may not know about the mighty dandelion is that it is actually a miraculous edible plant that has numerous health and medicinal benefits! In fact the dandelion is ranked in the top 10 most nutritious plant foods.
Rich in micronutrients, minerals, B vitamins, fibre and protein, this little unassuming weed is a powerful disease-fighter and health-promoter. Here are just some of the benefits of dandelions:
-it helps to clean out the urinary tract and prevent UTI’s
-it is a mild laxative and keeps the bowels moving normally
-it can help rebalance gut bacteria
-encourages liver detoxification
-it has anti-cancer properties (especially the leaves)
-it is full of antioxidants
-it helps to regulate blood sugar
-it is a mild diuretic and helps to lower blood pressure
-it stimulates bile production, which helps us to digest fat and absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K)
-it contains phytonutrients that can help lower inflammation
-it improves immune function
-it reduces kidney stones
-it contributes to and encourages weight loss
-it may help remove heavy metals and radioactive substances from the body by its blood purifying action
-stimulates milk flow in breastfeeding mothers
-improves skin health and can be an effective treatment for eczema and acne
-reduces joint pain
One study showed that dandelion root extract is amazingly efficient at killing cancer cells in those with chemoresistent melanoma, while having absolutely no toxic effects on healthy cells – something no conventional cancer treatment can boast.
There are many ways to consume dandelion. The easiest is to just go into your backyard and dig a few up, wash the leaves and throw them in a salad. You can also steam the greens gently for a side-dish. If you are going to harvest them yourself from nature, please be sure they haven’t been in contact with pesticides or fertilizers – as is the case with most public parks and lawns. They are also seasonally available in some stores, especially organic markets.
If you want to make use of the roots, you can buy dried dandelion root in herbal stores or online, or you can harvest them yourself (same rules apply as above). Dig up a few plants, cut off the tops and wash the roots well. If you have a dehydrator – pop the roots in there until they are dry, or put them in a low-heat oven. Once the roots are fully dried, break them up into small pieces and store in a glass jar or paper bag and use them for tea.
To get the most benefit from roots for a tea – put 1-2 tsp of root per 1 cup of water, in a pot on the stove. Cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Strain and serve.
You can also use the flowers for tea, and there are numerous recipes on the internet that incorporate the flowers, including flower-drop ‘pancakes’ that sound quite intriguing!
Caution: if you have an allergy to ragweed, be careful consuming dandelion as you may experience a reaction.