This week, we'll be looking into the medicinal attributes of the common dandelion. The Latin name for this plant is Taraxacum officinale. Its other names include: Blowball, Cankerwort, Cochet, Common Dandelion, Couronne de Moine, Lion's Teeth, Lion's Tooth, Priest's Crown, Swine Snout, Wild Endive.
Most people today look at the dandelion and see a weed, but in truth it is a wonderful medicinal herb mankind has been using for thousands of years to treat specific ailments. Native Americans have been using dandelion for centuries. In the past dandelion roots and leaves were used to treat liver problems, while the heads were used in both medicinal and culinary world. Native Americans would boil dandelion in water and take it to treat kidney disease, swelling, skin irritations, heartburn, and upset stomach. In traditional Chinese medicine it has been used to treat stomach problems, appendicitis, and breast issues. In Europe it was used in remedies for fever, boils, eye troubles, diabetes, and diarrhea.
Dandelion grows in the temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. Dandelion is a hardy perennial that can grow 12 inches high. The plants have deeply notched, toothy, flat leaves that are shiny and hairless. The grooved leaves funnel rain to the root.
Dandelion stems are topped by bright yellow flowers that open with the sun in the morning, and close in the evening or during gloomy weather. The dark brown roots are fleshy and brittle and are filled with a white milky substance that is bitter and slightly smelly.
The main effects of dandelion are in cleansing and healing the liver, and helping keep the urinary organs and tract healthy and clear of infection. It helps with loss of appetite, upset stomach, flatulence, constipation, and Arthritis pain.
Dandelion is usually taken by food, tincture, capsule, or in tea infusion.
Ailments which indicate treatment with dandelion include: Liver disease, kidney disease, bladder disease, urinary tract infections, flatulence, constipation, arthritis, and lack of appetite.
The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and may interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider.
It is not recommended to take dandelion if you are pregnant or breast-feeding; if you are taking a narcotic; or if you are going into surgery.
Latin Name:Taraxacum officinale
Medicinal Actions: Diuretic, Laxative, Tonic, Slightly aperient, a general stimulant to the urinary organs.
Indications: Liver disease, kidney disease, bladder disease, urinary tract infections, flatulence, constipation, arthritis, and lack of appetite.
Contraindications: While pregnant or breast-feeding; concurrently with prescription drugs or psychiatric medications; going into surgery.
Herbal Legacy - Dandelion
- Dandelion & Pumpkin Seed Pesto -
3/4 cup unsalted hulled (green) pumpkin seeds
3 garlic gloves, minced
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 bunch dandelion greens (about 2 cups, loosely packed)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Pour the pumpkin seeds onto a shallow-rimmed baking sheet and roast until just fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Pulse the garlic and pumpkin seeds together in the bowl of a food processor until very finely chopped.
Add parmesan cheese, dandelion greens, and lemon juice and process continuously until combined. Stop the processor every now and again to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Makes about 1 cup