Dandelions love us. How do we know? Dandelions not only bring health and healing to our entire digestive system, but also contain inulin. Inulin is a prebiotic, a food for our gut flora. That means that dandelions help to provide food and a healthy, strong “home.” Food and shelter. The basic needs of all beings.
Photo by Suzanne Tabert
Dandelion is a digestive bitter. It heals, nourishes, and balances the entire digestive tract, including the liver. Our entire digestive system comprises our mouth, esophagus, stomach, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, large and small intestines, and colon. The small intestine is where 80% of the body’s relaxing neurotransmitters are created, and 70 percent of immune activity occurs. By strengthening and nourishing the digestive tract, including the small intestine, dandelion helps a body have healthier nerve function and better immunity. As moods are a function of nerve strength, it seems once again that dandelions wish to bring us the healing we need to cope with day to day stresses that can add up.
Dandelion is the premiere herb to support the liver, allowing it to be strengthened, healthy and available at all times to do the many jobs it is designed to do. Dandelions help the digestive system to obtain full nutrition from the foods we eat. It tones and nourishes the spleen, skin, nerves, kidneys, glands, the urinary, circulatory and lymphatic systems, and the gallbladder. Dandelions can aid in reduction of uric acid and reducing edema in the joints. Dandelions can be a good herbal aid for treating inflammatory diseases such as chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.
Dandelion acts as a diuretic, removing excess water from the body, while adding potassium and other minerals. Commercial diuretics remove potassium and minerals from the body. Potassium is vital to cardiac health; therefore, dandelions may be a good choice as a diuretic.
That’s a lot of healing and nutrition from a plant that most people try to eradicate from their yard and gardens!
It so easy to get dandelion’s medicine in us as all parts of the plant are edible and delicious any time of year. In the spring, fill a jar with unopened flower buds, and a half part each of chopped onions, garlic, and grated ginger. Fill the jar to the top with 2 parts organic unpasteurized apple cider vinegar and 1 part liquid aminos or tamari. Let steep for a couple weeks before using as a healthy yet tasty condiment.
My Dad’s grandma used to send him out to pick dandelion leaves in the spring and cooked them up with onions, garlic, and bacon for a nutritious and inexpensive side dish. Feel free to substitute olive oil for the bacon grease if you wish.
As the seasons progress, the dandelion flowers infused in oil make a wonderful rub for strains and bruises. The fresh leaves and flower petals are a valuable addition to salads and sandwiches. Dandelions stimulate the digestive system and may inspire a desire to eat in those with dull appetites due to inactivity. Use the greens to make a crowd-pleasing pesto!
In the winter, dig the roots to make tinctures, vinegars, and roast them for a great tasting coffee substitute.
Photo by Suzanne Tabert
Roasted Dandelion Roots
Dig up the roots, clean them well, and chop them up finely by hand or food processor. Place the chopped roots on a cookie sheet about 1/2-inch thick and roast them in a 250-degree oven for about 3-4 hours until they are completely dry and dark brown. Let cool before putting the roasted roots in a jar. They’ll keep for up to a year! Substitute half the amount of coffee with roasted dandelion roots to wean off coffee. Over a few weeks, gradually add more roasted roots and less coffee until it’s all dandelion! As our bodies understand that good nutrition and medicine is coming in, it will begin to crave what’s good and forget to ask for what is not so good. Now that’s good medicine, hey? Personally, I love roasted dandelion root decoction with herbal honey and raw cream. The taste is full bodied and satisfying.
Photo by Suzanne Tabert
Dandelion Greens Pesto
• 4 cups washed dandelion greens. Do not blanch.
• 2/3 to 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1 cup nuts of your choice – almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, etc.
• 2-6 cloves garlic according to taste
• 1/4 cup romano or parmesan cheese
Put all ingredients in a food processor and process on high until creamy, making sure all ingredients are well blended. Use the pesto on baked potatoes, as a dip, on pizza, noodles; the choices are endless! The pesto can be frozen for up to a year. Bon appetit!
Thank you, Dandelions! Thank you, my friends! As always, I’m Wild About Plants and so happy to share some of what I know with you all. Take care and happy spring!