The vibrant green leaves, bright yellow flower and delicate whispy fronds make dandelion a very recognisable plant. The latin name for dandelion is Taraxacum officinale. Dandelion is a very common plant that is native to Europe, but is now commonly found throughout the world. It has a rich history around it’s use in herbal medicine throughout the centuries, and today it is still one of our most favourite and commonly used herbs.
The root of the dandelion plant is commonly used to support the liver. It is used for not only detoxifying the liver, but to also support the healing of liver conditions such as jaundice, hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver disease.
The root has a very bitter taste to it. It is this bitter taste that sparks a reflex action in the body when tasted. Digestive juices from the mouth, stomach, pancreas, duodenum and liver will begin to be released. It will encourage the gall bladder to secrete bile to help digest the fats that we eat.
This reflex action will also promote peristalsis, which is where wave-like muscle contractions push food through the digestive system. Bitters also have the ability to stimulate the body to help to repair the gut wall via a self-repair mechanism.
Dandelion root will also help to relieve constipation, manage cholesterol levels and balance blood sugar. All in all, it really is a great tonic as it is beneficial to so many conditions. In addition it is a very safe plant so we can take small amounts for long periods of time.
All of this is just from the root of the dandelion plant!
Now onto the leaves. The rich green leaves of the dandelion plant are very high in nutrients. This includes vitamins A, C, D, B-complex, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, choline, calcium and boron. Dandelion leaves are a great addition to your salad greens. Either grow them at home, or buy them from an organic source. Don’t pick the leaves off the side of the road, or from a park as you just don’t know what they have been exposed to. You also need to be confident that you are identifying the correct plant before you ever eat anything.
A herbalist will use the dandelion leaves therapeutically for the urinary system. Dandelion leaves are the perfect example of how mother nature makes the perfect medicine. The leaves are commonly used as a diuretic to help treat fluid build up or conditions of the urinary and kidney systems. Whilst pharmaceutical diuretic work well to remove fluid, they also can leave to body depleted of vital nutrients such as potassium. The benefit of dandelion leaves are that they are naturally high in potassium, and thus counter-balancing it’s diuretic action.This diuretic action is also wonderful to help manage high blood pressure conditions.
Next time you are in the health food store, have a look for some dandelion tea and see what it does for you. If you are still not sure if dandelion is right for you, send me an email and I can advise you on an individual level.