Common names: Dandelion, lion’s tooth, Irish daisy, wet-a-bed
Latin name: Taraxacum officinale
Part used: Leaves (fresh and dried) and roots
Medicinal uses: Although it’s known mainly as a weed, dandelion has many health benefits. The root is often used as a liver cleanser and detoxifier. The leaves have diuretic properties and are used to relieve water retention. The herb is also used to stimulate the appetite. The roasted roots are commonly used as a healthful coffee substitute.
Forms commonly used: Tea, tincture, capsule, dried herb and fresh herb.
Side effects: Although dandelion is generally safe, don’t use the leaf or root if you have gallbladder inflammation, gallstones, bile duct blockage, or intestinal blockage, unless you’re under the care of an experienced practitioner.
Notes: Most diuretics drain the body of potassium, but dandelion is a good source of the mineral—it replaces the potassium lost in urination. In the spring, you can pick the young, tender leaves and eat them raw. Dandelion leaves are available year-round at some health-food stores. The common name “wet-a-bed” is in reference to the plant’s diuretic properties.