image of dandelion

Benefits of the Dandelion

Walking home today I noticed fields full of our favourite yellow plant… the Dandelion. Some people love it’s friendly yellow face, and others go running for various physical or chemical weapons and declare war on it. Before you take up arms against the dandelion consider a few of these points.

The name of the genus, Taraxacum, is derived from the Greek taraxos (disorder), and akos (remedy), on account of the curative action of the plant. The common name of Dandelion comes from the french “dent de lion” meaning teeth of the lion due to the shape of the leaves. Other common names include wet-the-bed and pissy-beds, which refer to its effectiveness as a diuretic.

Bee friendly

The Dandelion takes an important place among honey-producing plants, as it furnishes considerable quantities of both pollen and nectar in the early spring.  Bumblebees, solitary bees and honeybees all visit dandelions for food, along with hoverflies, beetles, and butterflies such as the peacock and holly blue. Goldfinches and house sparrows eat the seeds. Dandelion honey can be used as is on toast or made into mead (a honey wine).  Dandelion flowers can also be made directly into dandelion wine.

Weather predictions

The blooms are very sensitive to weather conditions: in fine weather, all the parts are outstretched, but when rain threatens the whole head closes up. It also closes at night as protection against the dews of night, then opens again in the morning.

Chic salads

The young leaves of the Dandelion make an agreeable and wholesome addition to spring salads. Full-grown leaves tend to be too bitter so pick the leaves when young.  Dandelion leaves can be used in place of lettuce in sandwiches or steamed with spinach.  As a variation, some grated nutmeg or garlic, a teaspoonful of chopped onion or grated lemon peel can be added to the greens when they are cooked. The leaves are full of vitamins A, C, lutein and zeaxanthin  and minerals as noted in this article, as well as antioxidants.

Coffee alternative

Dandelion Coffee is a natural beverage without any of the injurious effects that ordinary tea and coffee have on the nerves and digestive organs.  The coffee substitute is made by roasting and grinding the roots of the plant. It exercises a stimulating influence over the whole system, helping the liver and kidneys to do their work and keeping the bowels in a healthy condition, so that it offers great advantages to dyspeptics and does not cause wakefulness. Interested in trying it? Check out Dandy Blend.

Free Medicine

Diuretic, tonic and slightly aperient Dandelion acts as a general stimulant to the system, but especially to the urinary organs, and is chiefly used in kidney and liver disorders.  It is used as a bitter tonic in atonic dyspepsia (impaired stomach function), and as a mild laxative in habitual constipation.  It has a good effect in increasing the appetite and promoting digestion. Dandelion combined with other active remedies has been used in cases of edema and for cirrhosis of the liver, and also for pulmonary tuberculosis and some skin diseases. A decoction can also be used for scurvy, scrofula, eczema and all eruptions on the surface of the body.

In Chinese Medicine it is called Pu Gong Ying and is used for gallstones, bile stimulation, muscle aches, low urine output, indigestion, constipation, flatulence, as a tonic, and in anti-smoking preparations. It is also used for treating breast cancer. Traditionally, Pu Gong Ying/Dandelion plant has been used orally for diabetes, rheumatic conditions, heartburn, bruises, gout, stiff joints, eczema, and cancer.