Dandelions aren’t weeds!

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I was out for a long walk the other day and was amazed at all the beautiful flowers and trees blooming but the one blooming flower I noticed the most was the Dandelion. Knowing all the incredible healing and medicinal properties this plant has I began to pick the roots, leaves and the bright yellow flower that this little beauty is known for. I know my fellow hikers and bikers who passed by must have thought I was crazy but if they knew what I knew about this delectable little herb they would never use one more pesticide in their lawn again. They shouldn’t be doing that anyway but that’s another blog! When you think of the Dandelion it really is considered the “Rodney Dangerfield” of the plants in that it gets “no respect”.  Many have often thought of it as a “weed” but the truth is that mother nature makes no mistakes and this is certainly true of this plant. The name dandelion comes from the French “Dente de Lyon” or “Lion’s tooth”,  named because of their jagged tooth-like appearance on the green leaves.

The  little Dandelion’s nutritional value is very high in vitamins A and C, with more beta carotine than carrots and more potassium than broccoli  or spinach, not to mention healthy doses of iron and copper for good measure.  Vitamin A is an important fat-soluble vitamin and anti-oxidant, required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and vision. The herb is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids, which helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure and makes an excellent natural diuretic. Iron is essential for red blood cell production. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Additionally, it is  a good source of Vitamin B, and zinc. Medicinally, Dandelions are considered very safe and effective as a general tonic that helps strengthen the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, stomach, and intestines,  improving bile flow and reducing inflammation in cases of hepatitis and cirrhosis.  Dandelions also help to dissipate gallstones and are believed to improve kidney function, thereby improving overall health and clearing skin problems. I have often used dandelion herb to break a fever and quicken my bodies ability to fight acute infection. Dandelion is one of the richest herbal sources of vitamin K. Vitamin-K has a potential role in bone mass building and in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease patients by reducing damage to the neurons in the brain.

Did you know that Native Americans use to boil the herb to make a tea to treat kidney disease and inflammation and that Chinese physicians use dandelion to treat digestive disorders and appendicitis? It always amazes me to learn about century old herbal remedies that are in our own backyard that most times are better and safer than any pharmaceutical drug out there!

Here is a great tip for addicted coffee lovers looking for a replacement beverage with a much healthier twist. Dandelion coffee is fantastic to help clear the liver and gallbladder rather than congest it like coffee does. The best way to do this is dig up the roots of a dandelion plant. Be sure to harvest the roots from a dandelion plant that has not been near a road way, so its free of pollution and one that has no pesticides or fertilizer on it. Look for large healthy leaves because this will tell you how big the root is. Pull the leaves off to use in salad or saute with garlic and onions to be served with dinner, pull the heads of the dandelion off and toss into your fresh garden salad or use for dandelion blossom tea.

To make dandelion coffee:

  • Remove the roots from the rest of the plant.
  • Wash the roots thoroughly several times to ensure all dirt is removed.
  • Cut the roots into very small pieces and spread on a baking sheet.
  • Dry the roots in a 150° oven with the door slightly ajar (to allow moisture to escape).
  • Roast the dry roots in a 350° oven, stirring frequently until mildly brown and fragrant.
  • Grind the roasted roots in a coffee grinder.
  • Use 1 teaspoon to brew 1 8 oz. cup of “coffee” .

To make dandelion blossom tea:

  • Pick a handful of dandelions and remove the flower heads from the green parts.
  • Rinse lightly with cool water to remove debris and dirt.
  • Put a few flowers into a mug and add boiling water.
  • Steep approximately 15 minutes or to taste. You can drink plain or add sweetener with honey, agave or stevia.

One thing I love to do with the dandi’s is put them in my dehydrator so that I can make my own dandelion tea or dried leaves to sprinkle in salads, smoothies or sandwiches. You can use them for your kids and loved ones to get their bodies to begin to cleanse without them ever needing to know. Sweet! Below is a picture of my freshly picked dandelions in the dehydrator just after I got back from my walk. I left them to dehydrate for 8 hours then put them in a closed container and sprinkly them on just about everything. My supply is already running low, need another session of weed picking. Thank God for weeds!!

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  1. Carla Y. Seleme, M. D. says

    Dear Dr. Seleme,
    I appreciate your healthy column and
    professional insights.
    Furthermore, it is always refreshing to see a
    practical application of patient education
    with respect to a real world physician taking
    time to actually give a damn about patients
    health in general, theirs and those they will never
    meet, to commit all of the time and effort
    on their behalf to put together and maintain
    this well organized, fact-filled, easy, and
    intriguing on-line blog.
    Professional Kudos from the allopathic
    world! We can all learn a lesson and
    be inspired by your drive and enthusiasm
    for good health and medicine in general.
    Also, re: one of my favorite flowers, the
    Dandelion, after reading your column, I
    scattered a few shredded parts of the
    beautiful yellow heads on Welsh rarebit
    using gluten free bread, not buttermilk
    toast as the recipe called for. Yummy!
    Lended an earthy, organic, nutty, flavour.
    Also, placed some of the shredded heads,
    because I had some leftover in a homemade
    salad dressing using Monjes de Lontues
    Olive Oil and used it on a steak tartar!!! So
    Many fun things you can do with them, just
    hard for me to find good clean ones because
    I live on a 2 X 4 island, like a grain of sand
    In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, called
    Key West, FL. Sounds insane, but I might
    have to buy some to procure, unadulterated
    One more thing, for patients taking antibiotics
    it may lower your absorption of the concentration
    of the antibiotic so might not want to take while
    on antibiotic. Also, if on a chronic medication
    with a small therapeutic window, such as lithium,
    etc…, might want to have patients only use
    no more than four times per week and check
    a serum level to make certain their level stays
    within range. Also, patients on potassium-
    sparing diuretics might also only take no
    more than four times per week and check
    a level to be certain their potassium levels are
    stable. Once they check a level, which is
    compulsory anyway while on the medication,
    everything should be fine.
    Looking forward to trying some Dande tea!
    All the Best for you and your patients,
    Carla Y. Seleme, M.D.

  2. Carla Y. Seleme, M.D. says

    Dear Seleme Chiropractic,
    Just an update, I was watching an organic gardening video and saw the dandelions that resulted from the compost tea and man were they GIGANTIC and outrageous!!! This little guy out in the pacific northwest puts steeped (as opposed to brewed using the bubbling stone and all that jazz) compost tea all over his beautiful and well organized garden. The ground around it and the “weeds” including dandelions and clover were so abundant and lovely while participating in this unregulated symbiosis which was manifesting the extraordinary vitality of his garden environment. I saw a few of the leaves and they looked almost 24 inches in length and so broad and green; they were incredible. (I think the world’s record for dandelion length is 39.37 inches) I thought about your dande column and all of the potential those big little babies could offer and I know that in my next garden I will do the same. With everyone so looking forward to the Spring after this enchanting winter’s tale I wanted to encourage your patients and other readers to appreciate the other aspects of their garden and lawn. I was thinking of how much nitrogen fixation was going on with all of the clover explosion and it was so pretty with the white and pink and red flowers charmingly sprinkled everywhere. Van Gogh would have had a field day (pun intended). Remembering the image has now made me hungry. Unfortunately, I am out of dande’s so will browse your awesome website for other ideas that might be useful in helping me to create a gastronomical delight that is also nutritious and anti-inflammatory. Please continue this instructional website. I find it helpful in so many ways and I share a lot of the information with my own patients. Hopefully they are reading and learning on their own as well. Cheers!

  3. Hello there! This is my first visit to your blog!
    We are a team of volunteers and starting a new
    project in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work
    on. You have done a marvellous job!

  4. Ruth Koson says

    Dr. Seleme,

    From my cabin in the woods, I say “Thank-you” for posting such informative information about the dandelion! I have many of these “weeds” that grow all over my green acres. I have recently been exploring with great curiosity like a child within my world under the tree tops and hillsides in the beautiful Ozark Mountains. I stumbled upon exotic plants that grew native on my island home and wondered how on earth these plants could survive cold temperatures in the winter. I have the prickly pear cactus, yucca and many other edible and medicinal plants, trees and shrubs and weeds growing right here in a place that you would not think they would grow! I did some research and found that some of the exotics that have been introduced by man in to this area can survive temperatures that fall down to 20 degrees! After a winter, the prickly pear cactus will appear completely flattened out on the earths surface and look like it will never sprout back up, but just as soon as the Spring sun hits it the cacti will pop right back up reaching for the sun! I knew when living on my island home and investing in some land in the Ozarks bordering The Mark Twain Nat’l forest that I could ultimately survive off of the land with clear springs and many deer, wild turkey, fish in the rivers and a huge variety of wildlife. I have an assortment of wild berries that grow here with the blackberry being my favorite. I have started to develop a deeper curiosity in to the natural health remedies of what I see growing around me. Being familiar with Yucca, I recently took a walk and dug up yucca root and brought it back to my cabin. I cooked it like a potato and found it to be sweet tasting and filling. I know that in the “olden” days, the Doctors would have a patient who was constipated eat a large portion of this natural laxative to relieve them of their constipation! It contains a huge amount of fiber! I want to learn more about these edible healing and nutritious plants, shrubs, trees and even the fungi mushrooms that grow around me here in the wild. Now that I have seen your blog and the information that you have shared about the dandelion, I hope to gather some and practice making my own dandelion treats and drinks! The world around us is filled with so many treats! The Native American use to dry the seeds of the Yucca and eat them like candy! We have so much candy naturally growing within our forest walls. There are so many herbs and plants that were once used for medicine that have been forgotten or used little. I hope to re-awaken what has been forgotten and go for walks picking, digging up and bringing back to the cabin some of the many living things that naturally grow around me and practice making my own tonics that were once made and worked, but have been forgotten or, used very little. Cheers to the dandelions and all of the other “weeds!”

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