Dandelions aren’t weeds!

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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