The bitter taste of dandelion leaves indicates that they are rich in phytonutrients and are very beneficial to the liver, which helps eliminate toxins.
Its scientific name is Taraxacum Officinale Weber. What a sophisticated name for a wild plant! It is primarily distributed throughout the Northern hemisphere, especially in Europe and America.
It has been cultivated for decades as a vegetable and eaten in salads. It is bitter in taste (even more so than arugula or Belgian endive).
Dandelion is known by its jagged, hard and rough leaves, but most especially for its flower, which is yellow and circular.
The flower is made up of a flowery plume that people oftentimes blow on to make a wish. In nature the wind is responsible for scattering the seeds nearby. That’s why they so commonly grow throughout large expansions of land.
Dandelion contains the following nutrients:
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin C
- Oleic acid
- Linoleic acid
What parts of dandelion are consumed?
Spring is the best time to collect the tender leaf shoots if you want to eat them fresh in a salad. You could also store them in a cloth sack to dry.
The roots are collected during the end of summer or in winter. They are stored in glass containers with a hermetically sealed lid.
The areas that are used include:
They’re like spinach and are eaten raw in salads, or cooked as a pie filling, for example. They taste fairly bitter once they reach a certain age, that’s why we advise eating the soft or small sprouts.
Some people drink infusions prepared from dried leaves for medicinal reasons.
Before they open, you can pickle them in salt and vinegar, as done with capers. They can then be fried or added fresh to salads.
Once the plant is two years or older (adult) you can begin to cut out part of the root. You can then toast it and use it as a caffeine substitute for making infusions.
What is dandelion good for? Medicinal properties
You already know what plant we’re talking about, so now it’s time to learn about its health benefits… and to start eating it!
In Europe dandelion is frequently used by diabetics. The roots contain easily digested sugars.
Treat kidney and urinary problems
In France, this plant is often called “pissenlit” (which translates directly to “pee in bed”). This is because dandelion has been used for a long time to stimulate the kidneys.
It also helps to tone these organs, to treat urinary tract infections and to eliminate kidney stones. It is an excellent diuretic that does not cause potassium loss, as with most other diuretics.
Improves the digestive tract
It is a mild laxative, a bitter tonic, which stimulates appetite in patients recovering from illness. It increases bile production and alleviates constipation and gastric disorders.
Leads to a peaceful liver
Dandelion is highly recommended for eliminating toxins that accumulate in the body. Consequently, it is related to good liver health. This herb is used to treat hepatitis, jaundice and cancer or liver tumors.
It also has cleansing properties for the blood and prevents chemical or food intoxication. It also cleanses the blood of fats (cholesterol) and uric acid.
It is a beauty tonic
This plant has been used for several years to treat breakouts, eczema or psoriasis, among other skin conditions.
An infusion can be prepared from one handful of dandelion flowers in one cup of boiling water. Allow to cool and it will be perfect for washing wounds (moisten a cotton ball in it and rub it over the affected area).
Dandelion has a significant amount if iron in the leaves and can be used to prevent or reduce anemia. It also allows the body to recover after being iron deficient for a long time.
It is great for pregnant women that generally develop anemia during gestation.
Helps with eye health
Individuals that suffer from poor night vision or are likely to suffer from some sort of macular deformation can consume dandelion to add vitamin A, beta-carotenes, and helenin to their diets.
These 3 nutrients stimulate the eyes’ ability to capture light, and they protect vision.
Treat varicose veins and hemorrhoids
This is because of the tannins in this plant. It provides relaxing and calming properties to alleviate external or peripheral circulatory problems, like varicose veins and hemorrhoids.
In these cases, it would be a good idea to take a seated bath with the liquid made from seeping one handful of dandelion leaves in water, or moistening a cotton ball in the tea and spreading it over the area.
Side effects and contraindications for dandelion
There generally aren’t very many adverse side effects to consuming this plant, excluding skin allergies or eczema. If you consume a lot of dandelion, you could experience diarrhea, heartburn, or stomach discomfort.
Fresh stalks could cause intoxication in children. It is not advisable to use dandelion tinctures during pregnancy or nursing due to its high alcohol levels. In this case, it’s best to consume a small portion of the plant either fresh, or dried.