All You Need to Know about the Dandelion- the basics of the marvelous plant.
In my opinion the Dandelion is one of nature's wonder plants. They are full of health benefits and are free. I have been using the leaves and roots for years now to help me stay healthy. I could feel in the difference in only a few short weeks. I love using it in herbal teas and as a coffee substitute.
Dandelion is made of a large genus of flowering plants in the Asteraceae family. They are native to temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere of the Old World. Dandelion can grow to around12 inches and are tap-rooted, herbaceous plants, with toothy spatula-like leaves that are shiny and hairless. There stems are topped with bright yellow flowers. The flowers are sensitive to light, so they open with the sun in the morning and close in the evening. The roots are with white milky substance that is bitter, but not poisonous.
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They now grow virtually worldwide. Hundreds of species of dandelion grow in the temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and North America and are very well-adapted to their environment. They were introduced into the Midwest from Europe as a food source for the honeybees in spring.
There are no poisonous look-alikes. Other very similar Taraxacum species such as chicory and wild lettuce resembles dandelions in the early spring. All these edibles also exude a white milky sap when injured, but chicory and wild lettuce leaves have some hair, at least on the underside of the midrib, while Taraxacum leaves are bald.
Alternative Names: Lion's tooth; Priest's crown; Swine's snout; Taraxacum officinale, Blowball, Cankerwort, Doon-head-clock, Fortune Teller, Horse Gowan, Irish Daisy, Yellow Gowan, One-O'clock.
While most people think of it as a pesky weed there are others that consider it a valuable herb with many culinary and medicinal uses. It is rich in vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc. Its leaves are often used to add flavor to salads, sandwiches, and teas. The roots can be used as coffee substitutes and as a tea, and the flowers are used to make wine.
Today, dandelion roots are mainly used as an appetite stimulant, digestive aid, and for liver and gallbladder function. Dandelion leaves are used as a diuretic to stimulate the excretion of urine. The history of using Dandelion can be document back for 100's of years. In traditional medicine, dandelion roots and leaves were used to treat liver problems. Native Americans also used dandelion decoctions to treat kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and stomach upset. Chinese medicinal practitioners traditionally used dandelion to treat digestive disorders, appendicitis, and breast problems. In Europe, it is used for remedies such as; fever, boils, eye problems, diabetes, and diarrhea.
Medicinal Uses and Benefits:
Dandelion leaves produce a diuretic effect and the roots act as an antiviral agent, appetite stimulant, digestive aid, and promote gastrointestinal health. Dandelion flower has antioxidant properties. The plant may help in the treatment of liver disorders, high blood pressure, may help improve the immune system. Some preliminary animal studies have shown that dandelion may help normalize blood sugar levels and improved lipid levels lowering total cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing good cholesterol in diabetic mice.
High Blood Pressure: Dandelion juice is a natural diabetic and increases urination this helps to lower high blood pressure. The fiber in dandelion is also helpful in reducing cholesterol and cholesterol is a big factor with high blood pressure. It is also rich in potassium, and is very effective in lowering blood pressure by replacing sodium.
Liver Disorders: Dandelion can help the liver in many ways. While its anti oxidants, vitamin-C and Luteolin keeps it the liver functioning properly and protects it from aging. Other compounds in the plant help treat hemorrhages in the liver, to maintain the proper flow of bile, stimulates liver and promotes digestion.
Diabetes: Dandelion juice can help diabetics by stimulating the production of insulin from the pancreas keeping the blood sugar level low. Since it diuretic in nature, it makes the diabetic patients urinate frequently which too helps remove the extra sugar from the body.
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Cancer: Dandelion is high in anti oxidants such as vitamin-C and Luteolin which reduce the free radicals, that can be responsible for causing cancer in the body, and it also detoxifies the body, which reduces the risk of cancer.
Gall Bladder Disorders: Dandelion is very beneficial for gall bladder and liver, as it improves their functioning, protects them from ill effects of oxidants, infections and regulates the secretions from them.
Urinary Disorders: Dandelion is highly diuretic in nature. Therefore it helps flush out deposits of toxic substances in the kidneys and the urinary system. The plant also has disinfectant properties, inhibiting microbial growth in the urinary system.
Anemia: Dandelion is full of iron, vitamins and protein. Iron is the integral part of hemoglobin in the blood, especially vitamin-B. Protein is essential for formation of red blood cells and certain other components of the blood.
Jaundice: Dandelion promotes liver health and regulates bile production. It promotes urination which removes excess bile and is a disinfectant in nature. It is more beneficial if taken with sugarcane juice, since it replaces the sugar in the body which is very much lowered due to action of bile, causing extreme fatigue and weakness.
Bone Health: Dandelion is rich in calcium, which is essential for growth and strength of bones, and is rich is anti oxidants like vitamin-C and Luteolin, which protect bones from damages due to free radicals and the loss in density.
Weight Loss: The more we urinate the more water and fats are lost from the body. Dandelion, being diuretic promotes urinating and thereby helping lose weight without side effects.
Skin Care: Dandelion milk or sap is useful in treating skin diseases which are caused due to microbial and fungal infection. This sap is highly alkaline and has germicidal, insecticidal and fungicidal properties. Care should be taken while using this milk to avoid contact with your eyes. It can also be used on itches, ringworm, eczema and may other skin conditions.
Acne: The cause of acne is due to toxic substances not being able to escape from the skin, thus causing eruptions and because Dandelion juice is a good detoxifier, diuretic, stimulant and anti oxidant, it helps detox the body. It is also said to aid in the secretion of hormones, increases sweating and widens the pores for the removal of toxics through sweat. The sap can be used externally to inhibit microbial infections
Other Benefits: Dandelion can also be used as a vegetable, is a good source of fiber and promotes digestion. It was used to treat scurvy, aids in healing of dyspepsia, infections in the stomach, intestines and urinary system.
How to use it:
Dandelion herbs and roots are available fresh or dried in a variety of forms, including tinctures, liquid extract, teas, tablets, and capsules. Dandelion can be found alone or in combination supplements.
Dandelion is available in many different forms available:
Dried leaf infusion: 1 - 2 teaspoonfuls, 3 times daily. Pour hot water onto dried leaf and steep for 5 - 10 minutes. Strain and drink.
Dried root decoction: 1/2 - 2 teaspoonfuls, 3 times daily. Place root into boiling water for 5 - 10 minutes. Strain and drink.
Leaf tincture (1:5) in 30% alcohol: 100 - 150 drops, 3 times daily
Root tincture (1:2) fresh root in 45% alcohol: 100 - 150 drops, 3 times daily
Standardized powdered extract (4:1) leaf: 500 mg, 1 - 3 times daily
The dosage for a child is one third of an adult dose. Most dosages for adults are calculated on the basis of a 150 lb (70 kg) adult. Therefore, if the child weighs 50 lb (20 - 25 kg), the appropriate dose of dandelion for this child would be 1/3 of the adult dosage.
Precautions and possible interactions with medications:
The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs can contain components that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. Dandelion is generally considered safe, but some individuals could develop an allergic reaction, mouth sores, increased stomach acid, heartburn and irritate the skin if applied topically. If you have an allergy to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigold, chamomile, yarrow, daisies, or iodine, you should avoid dandelion. People with gallbladder problems and gallstones should consult a health care provider before eating dandelion.
Do not use dandelion if you are currently taking any of the medications below.
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Lithium - Animal studies suggest that dandelion may worsen the side effects associated with lithium, a medication used to treat bipolar disorder.
Antibiotics, quinolone - Taraxacum mongolicum, also called Chinese dandelion, may decrease the absorption of quinolone antibiotics (such as ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin, and levofloxacin) from the digestive tract. It is not known whether Taraxacum officinale, also known as common dandelion, would interact with these antibiotics in the same way. As a precaution, dandelion should not be taken at the same time as these antibiotics.
Antacids - Avoid antacids and other medicines that lower stomach acid, such as Pepcid, Taganet, Zantac, and others.