Scientific: Taraxacum officinal [WikiPedia]
Composition: Bitter glycosides, triterpenoids, tannins, volatile oils, inulin, vitamins A, B complex, C, Calcium, Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Protein, Selenium, Silicon, Sodium, Zinc.
Appearance: Dandelion is a perennial herb with a long, brown taproot. The leaves are jagged and pointy. They grow close to the ground and outward from a central point. They are a dark green on the edges and a lighter green towards the centre. The stems are light green to a dark reddish purple. The flowers are a bright yellow on the outside to a dark orange in the centre. When the flowers are mature, they turn into a white puffball of seeds that scatter everywhere when the wind blows. The scattered seeds sprout into new plants. Every part of the dandelion exudes a milky substance when it is damaged.
Parts Used: All
Common Uses: Dandelion has both medical and culinary uses. Dandelion greens are one of the most nutritious greens available. One cup of raw greens has:
- 112% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A
- 535% RDA of vitamin K
- 32% RDA of vitamin C
- 103 mg of calcium
- 1.7 mg of iron
- 218 mg of potassium.
Dandelion is also a good source of beta carotene, lutein, vitamin H, which has been proven to help weight loss, and over two dozen other nutrients. Dandelion greens add colour and texture to salads, stir-fry, and soups. The greens are the leaves. It is best to harvest them in early spring, well before the last frost is expected. They need to be gathered before the flowers bloom or they will be bitter. The best time is when the leaves have just emerged.
The root is also used for culinary purposes. It can be added to soups or ground up and roasted to make a drink like coffee without the negative side effects. The root of the dandelion is full of vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients, including inulin, which is helpful in controlling diabetes.
Dandelion herb has been associated with improving liver function and liver diseases such as hepatitis and jaundice. It is a strong diuretic that does not deplete potassium in the body. It has been shown to improve both constipation and diarrhoea. It purifies the blood, cleanses the digestive system, removes heavy metals from body tissues, and can help dissolve kidney stones. It has been shown to help weight loss, cure acne, lower high blood pressure, cure anaemia, lower serum cholesterol levels, reduce acid indigestion and gas, improve some cancers, and help control diabetes all with no negative side effects. The dandelion herb is full of so many vitamins, minerals and micronutrients that alone might be the reason it is so beneficial in so many different areas.
- The sodium in dandelions is thought to reduce the inflammation of the liver.
- Vitamin A helps fight cancers in the mouth and the lungs.
- Potassium, along with magnesium, has been shown to help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke.
- Dandelions are full of both potassium and magnesium.
- The fibre in dandelions lowers cholesterol, is beneficial to diabetes, and fights cancer and heart disease.
- Calcium has been shown to build strong bones and reduce high blood pressure.
- B vitamins lower the effects of stress.
Nutrients: The chief constituents of Dandelion root are Taraxacin, acrystalline and Taraxacerin, an acrid resin, with Inulin (a sort of sugar which replaces starch in many of the Dandelion family, Compositae), gluten, gum and potash. It contains substantial levels of vitamins A, C, D, B-complex, iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese, choline, calcium and boron.
- Improves digestion and absorption of nutrients because it stimulates the release of bile from the liver into the gallbladder
- Increases health for liver and gallbladder by providing sustaining nutrients
- Helps to digest fat
- Aids in healthy skin and protects against eczema
- Stimulates urination for a healthy urinary tract without losing essential potassium
Alternatives and Adjuncts: Liver and digestive problems, consider milk thistle, burdock, yellow dock, marshmallow, chickweed or Oregon grape.
Topic Specific Research:
- Dandelion [Ref]
- Taraxacum officinale and related species-An ethnopharmacological review and its potential as a commercial medicinal plant [PubMED]
- The Physiological Effects of Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale) in Type 2 Diabetes. [PubMED]
PLEASE NOTE that herbal and other natural products can harm your animals – not all plants are safe and gentle! Do not attempt using any of the ingredients listed, or any other plant matter, without the guidance of a qualified herbalist.