Two years ago, in the early spring, we were up north near Chicago doing several seminars. As we traveled through the countryside to our next seminar, I was overwhelmed by the profusion of bright yellow dandelions carpeting the fields and roadsides.
Northern dandelions seem to grow taller and thicker than our southern variety. If that town was the only town in the entire world where dandelions grew, it would be on all the travel maps, renowned as a place of extraordinary beauty. People would come from everywhere to view the breathtaking wonder of the dandelions in the spring. But God in his wisdom and love didn't give dandelions to just a chosen few, He freely and generously gave them to most everyone. As I looked over that sea of dancing yellow flowers, I thought to myself, “The folks of this town will never starve, that is, unless they can't see the food God planted everywhere.” Chances are (unless you have poisoned them out of existence) you have dandelions in your yard as well. Dandelions grow all winter here in Tennessee, and according to author, James Duke, in his new book The Green Pharmacy, he finds dandelions growing all year long as far north as his home in Maryland.
Early in the spring dandelion salad leaves are joined by a yellow flower. Then, as spring wears on, a puff-ball pops up to entertain the youngsters, while underground the thick dandelion root grows yet deeper. Except for the puff-balls, which carry the seeds, all parts of the dandelion are used for herbs and food—the leaves, flowers, and roots.
The flowers have traditionally been made into a wine or tonic and used as a liver cleanser. Its effectiveness has been scientifically validated. The leaves can be eaten as a salad, cooked green, or made into a green drink. Theroot of the dandelion can be roasted for a coffee like drink. Dandelions are high in vitamins and minerals, especially calcium and vitamins A and C. They are high in protein, iron, manganese, potassium, and sodium—all nutritive salts for the blood. It is often used to treat anemia. As a food source, the dandelion could be invaluable. Most physical problems could be helped if not completely cured by a balance of nutrients.
As a medicinal herb the dandelion is a remarkable friend. It is a potent diuretic, which means it helps flush excess water from the body. As a diuretic, it can be used to reduce bloating before your cycle, or anytime you have swelling around your ankles or hands, which might indicate you are retaining water. As a diuretic, it can help keep the urinary passages flushed in case of irritation or infection. It could even bring some relief in congestive heart problems, which is water collecting around the heart.
Dandelion also stimulates the flow of bile, which makes it a good tonic for the liver and gallbladder. Most herb books recommend it for a wide variety of liver disorders.
Dandelion neutralizes acids in the body, thus it is often used by people as they lose weight to help keep the acid levels down, which rise as a person loses weight. Dandelion has antioxidants that help cleanse the body, which is why it is mentioned in many herbals as a help for people suffering with cancer. Because of its anti-toxin activities, many herbalists suggest dandelion to treat various skin problems.
I have counted 46 different medicinal uses of dandelion, as expressed in several herbal reference books. The list of disorders treated with dandelion range from acne to hepatitis, from bronchitis to yellow jaundice. All survival books say scurvy would be the number one debilitating and killing disorder if people were forced to a survival diet. Yet because dandelion is so available and high in vitamin C, scurvy could be eliminated completely.
History has revealed that the roaming gypsy people were extremely healthy and robust. The greater part of their diet was soups made from wild herbs of the field, stewed with a handful of hominy (see corn article from our February newsletter), wheat (called bulgur when cooked), beans, or an occasional rabbit. Along with Dandelions, they were most likely eating Plantain, Nettle, and chickweed, with wild onions and garlic for favor. No wonder they were known for their robust health.
I keep a gallon jar of dried dandelion root in my herb pantry. I used it this week in making a recipe for a person with a kidney infection. I have used it for expectant mothers with swelling hands and feet. I have given it to women that were anemic, since it is so high in iron. Likewise I have made it available to older women needing a steady, easy to digest source of calcium. Dandelion leaf and root are inexpensive and nice to have on hand. Herbal books will help you discover more information on the lowly dandelion.
Take your children on a nature walk and teach them to recognize the dandelion. Let them pick and taste the flowers, which are loaded with lecithin, a nutrient that is useful in liver aliments. Pick a few tender greens and let the children cook them for supper. Let them blow the puff balls to the wind, and teach them how the seeds are scattered. Let them try to dig up one of the dandelion roots and find how deep they grow. Take a book with you and find dandelion in the book. Teach the children as you learn. Knowing about dandelions could be an important part of their life and well being.
If you are going to utilize herbs, by far, the least expensive route is to collect your own or buy the raw herb. We grow many herbs, but we have found that in most cases it is cheaper to purchase them than to put in the labor of harvesting and drying. You may have been to the stores and seen how expensive theirs can be when purchased in capsules or tinctures. If so, you will be amazed at how inexpensive they are when purchased in their natural condition as a dried, cut herb. You will save more than 95 cents on the dollar.