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Dandelion: The Overlooked Healer Underfoot (+ Dandelion Flower Lemonade Recipe)

dandelion flowers are powerful healers

Photo copyright 2024 Michelle Schoffro Cook. All rights reserved.

The dandelion is an herb in serious need of an image makeover. Cursed by many gardeners and those in quest of perfect lawns, dandelion is frequently viewed as a pest plant. If you walk past my home, you’ll know it from the dandelions that grow rampant on the front lawn. While my neighbors continue to douse the yellow flowers with harmful pesticides, I prefer to let the resilient and prevalent flowers grow. That’s because, in addition to dandelion’s excellent nutritional benefits, research supports its extensive history of use. Studies are increasingly showing dandelion may offer benefits in fighting cancer, preventing osteoporosis, treating Alzheimer’s disease, supporting liver health, and much more.

As far back as 1880, studies showed that dandelion is an effective treatment for hepatitis and swelling of the liver. A German study proved that dandelion root helped alleviate jaundice and reduce gallstones and newer research shows that dandelion root protects the liver against some harmful toxins.

dandelion for blood sugar, heart healing, gut health, more

Photo copyright 2024 Michelle Schoffro Cook. All rights reserved.

Using Mother Nature’s Free Multivitamin

Dandelion greens are like Mother Nature’s free multivitamin. They are rich in vitamins A, C, and K, contain vitamin E, folate (vitamin B9), and other B-complex vitamins, as well as the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. They are also a good source of the prebiotic inulin. Prebiotics are basically the food that help beneficial probiotics multiply in your gut. So, they are also like a free gut health boost too.

Most of the studies on the effectiveness of dandelion use dandelion root tinctures or dandelion root or leaf tea. You can make a dandelion root decoction, which is like a long-brewing tea made from the roots or fibrous parts of plants, using two teaspoons of powdered or coarsely chopped dandelion root per cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for forty-five minutes. Make a large enough batch to ensure that it won’t just evaporate during the cooking time. Drink one cup three times daily. I use roasted and powdered dandelion root to make a delicious dairy-free ice cream.

I add a handful or two of young dandelion greens to many dishes including: omelettes, quiches, or mixed green salads and make a refreshing lemonade from the brilliant yellow flowers. The flowers are rich in heart-healing polyphenols and antioxidant (read anti-aging!) carotenoids.

Dandelion Flower Lemonade

I pick about 30 to 40 fresh yellow flowers and steep them in one quart (roughly one Litre) of boiled water for 10 to 30 minutes, sweeten with a natural sweetener, and add the juice of a lemon or two. Chill and serve over ice.

Harvesting Dandelion

The roots, stems, leaves, and flowers can be harvested. Regardless of which you are using, be sure to gather them from an area free of pesticides and lawn sprays. Be cautious even about harvesting from your own lawn unless you live away from traffic and are confident of the land’s chemical-free status.

Dandelion greens and stems taste best when they’re young and tender. As they grow, they become increasingly bitter. To harvest the roots, conversely, look for large plants. I’ve found it easiest to harvest the roots after a rainfall, when the ground is still soft and the roots come out whole.

As always, check with your doctor if you have any health conditions and before using any herbs or remedies. This blog is intended for informational purposes only and should not replace a consultation with your physician. 

Be Your Own Herbalist Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, and Cooking

Learn more about dandelion and many other amazing and readily-available herbs in my book Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, and Cooking

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