I Love Dandelions!
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
When I was growing up, my family lived in a little house surrounded by a big expanse of lawn and gardens. Luckily for me, my Dad was okay with all the plants cohabiting with the grass, including Dandelions. I can remember lying amongst them in the Spring, picking them and having a good look at the sticky, milk-colored liquid which oozed out of the flower stems, and fashioning very generous bouquets for my mother. I learned the hard way, in my bare feet, that the bees love these flowers too!
Decades later, as a herbalist and student of ecosystems, I have learned more reasons to love this plant. The first thing that comes to mind is their importance to our bees, and especially the honey bees in the hives next door to me now. Between all my Dandelions and Forget-Me-Nots, the bees find plenty of nectar and pollen during their early Spring forays to our property. The Dandys provide much-needed nutrition for the bees of all kinds at a time of year when flowering plants are just getting a start.
As a herbalist, the tincture (alcoholic extract) that I make of the roots in the fall is one of the most-used remedies in my pharmacy. Dandelion roots are some of the best medicine for our poor over-worked livers. Your liver is probably the hardest working organ in your body, performing about 500 functions 24/7. Think of all the ways we abuse these precious livers of ours, such as drinking alcohol, eating foods laced with chemicals, drinking water full of chlorine, breathing less than pristine air and inhaling all sorts of things out-gassed from clothing, curtains, and carpets in our houses. Oh, and how many of us do not have too much cortisol circulating in our bloodstream from living in a constant state of stress? These chemicals are certainly not what your liver signed on for when it evolved thousands of years ago. I think it's not by chance that Dandelions have spread all over the world. We need them! Some Dandelion root tincture for a few weeks in the spring and again in the fall does wonders, giving us back our bright eyes, health and vigor. I think of dandelion root as support and encouragement for our livers, helping them get rid of toxins and giving them the blueprint for regaining proper function.
And, BTW, the leaves of the Dandelion are very rich in minerals (potassium, calcium, sodium, phosphorus, iron) and vitamins (A,C, choline, niacin). Because the leaves are so phosphorus rich, they are a valuable diuretic. The flowers and leaves can be added to salads. It's as good as a multi-vitamin! But be careful where you pick. It must be somewhere far away from Dandelion-hating sprayers!
One last pitch. When I was first starting out in my studies of the plants, I received a phone call from my mother. She was very upset, having just been diagnosed with primary biliary cirrhosis. The doctor had really frightened her with tales of how this would progress, and that there was nothing to be done. Well then. We got to work!
Of course we talked about a cleaner, leaner diet, but I also told her to make a trip to the village health food store and buy some chopped roasted Dandelion roots. I told her how to make a decoction and that she should drink one cup every single day, which she did to the letter. A few months into this protocol, she had a liver biopsy. What did they discover? Beautiful, normal liver tissue. My mother lived to one month shy of her 90th birthday, and although she had some serious health issues, including severe osteoporosis, her liver wasn't the problem.
Are you ready to embrace our wonderful friend and ally, the Dandelion plant? This Spring have a good look at her and enjoy her nourishment at dinnertime. Say thanks and rejoice with the bees at the beauty and wealth we have here on this home of ours, Earth.