Dandelion / Taraxacum officinale
Dandelion is one of the best reminders that “weeds” are important food and medicine sources. Celebrated by herbalists, beekeepers, and wild food foragers, Dandelion is not so loved by gardeners and farmers, who wish nothing more than to eradicate this persistent little plant. And who doesn’t have that memory of picking the white seed puffs as a child and blowing them into the wind while making a wish?
Dandelion is one of the first flowers that blooms here in the Texas spring, making it an important source of pollen and nectar for the bees. It has been used medicinally for centuries with traces of it being used throughout Europe, Russia, Asia, and North America. The entire plant is edible, and it’s not uncommon to see Dandelion greens for sale alongside salad in grocery stores, and popular coffee-alternative blends using roasted Dandelion root. The flowers can be eaten with salads or infused into wine, and there are all kinds of recipes using Dandelion as a food…but let’s talk about what it can do for us medicinally!
Dandelion’s claim to fame is its role in supporting the liver and the digestive system as a whole, and it plays a big part in the elimination process. Dandelion leaf is high in vitamins A and C, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and B vitamins, while the root is high in protein, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. The root also contains an important starchy carbohydrate known as inulin, a prebiotic that can help restore gut flora while optimizing digestive function.
The root and leaf are known as bitters, which can help to enhance appetite and digestion by stimulating the production of bile and digestive enzymes, thus improving digestion, absorption, and elimination. Dandelion can also support the elimination of excess dampness in the body, and supports the natural cleansing functions of the liver and kidneys. Dandelion leaves have long been considered a spring tonic and are one of the most effective diuretics used in herbal medicine. The leaves encourage the elimination of uric acid and metabolic wastes, and have proven useful in human clinical trials in cases of edema, urinary stagnation, and symptoms of high blood pressure. Its high mineral content, especially potassium, can help to offset mineral loss from diuresis (excessive urination).
There are a multitude of ways we can incorporate herbs into our daily lives, and Dandelion is a great start for this season! Think of adding some Dandelion to your regimen this spring by including the leaves in your salads, drinking the tea daily for elimination, or taking the tincture to assist with digestion.
Peoples Rx carries a number of products containing Dandelion root and/or leaf in a variety of forms–tincture, drink, capsule, bitters…take your pick! Gaia Herbs makes a few products. Their Dandelion root tincture, Liver Cleanse tea, and Liver Cleanse capsules are all great options. We also have Urban Moonshine bitters, which are blended with Dandelion leaf and root. If you’re looking for a good coffee alternative, Dandy Blend is a tasty blend featuring roasted Dandelion root! And as always, our knowledgeable wellness team is always in store to help you choose which products might be best for you!
Laurène Elliott-Deyris is an Herbalist and Wellness Specialist at Peoples Rx. She received her training at The Wildflower School of Botanical Medicine in Austin and is furthering her clinical studies with the Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine program out of North Carolina.
**This article is not intended to be medical advice. Please consult your healthcare practitioner before use.**
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