There is a whole group of
forgotten herbs that the European settlers brought over with them to the new
country. They grow so vigorously they have become common weeds in North America and we want only to eradicate
them. Chickweed, plantain and dandelion are among this group.
While we look at these plants, especially the bright yellow dandelion with loathing, open any book on herbals or holistic nutrition and you will find that dandelion mentioned many times over. Dandelion is so hardy and has so many uses. It has a long taproot that brings minerals from deep in the soil to its leaves and flowers. Dandelion is one of nature's richest green vegetable sources of beta-carotene, from which Vitamin A is created.. It is rich in fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and the B vitamins, thiamine and riboflavin, and is a good source of protein. Dandelion is also rich in micronutrients such as copper, zinc and other important phytochemicals.
In Rosemary Gladstar’s book “Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health”, one finds many recipes calling for the inclusion of dandelion leaf, flower or root. Rosemary Gladstar says” Dandelion is, I’m convinced, one of the great tonic herbs of all times. The entire plant is restorative and rejuvenating.” After researching this post, I would have to agree!
Dandelion is considered a liver cleansing herb along with burdock root and red clover, this in turn supports many other systems within the body. It supports immune function. Has a mild diuretic action which supports kidney function, which in turn lowers blood pressure and supports heart health. Dandelion is considered a “bitter herb” which improves digestion and make the body more alkaline.
So, how do you incorporate dandelion into your diet? The greens can be eaten fresh in salads or smoothies (this is how we use them most often), steamed or infused in tea, young roots can be added to stir fries or soups, or roasted and used as a coffee substitute which I have yet to try, but will be doing soon. The flowers, it seems, can be made into dandelion wine, a story about which my Mother was fond of telling! There are dandelion containing products in the health food stores from greens themselves to tea to a wonderful product called “NutraCleanse” which contains ground flax, dandelion and burdock. It is a great fibre product with all of the great benefits listed above.
There it is - the story of an amazing herb we all grow and very few of us take advantage of!