Herb of the Month: Dandelion

dandelion flowers

We probably all remember running through the grass as children and admiring the little yellow flowers that transformed into magical puffs of white — the dandelion flower. These flowers always seemed like little jewels growing out of the earth. To me, dandelions are synonymous with childhood wishes. Besides being a vehicle for childhood dreams, did you know that this weed is actually a medicinal wonder used in many ancient medical systems?

Dandelion is loaded with essential nutrients for the entire body. The leaves, which taste a bit like arugula, are packed with beta-carotene, which is the most common source of vitamin A. Just one serving of dandelion leaves contains up to two times the RDA for vitamin A. Dandelion leaves also have up to 50% of the RDA for vitamin C and are also a good source of vitamin E. My favorite way to eat dandelions is using the greens in salads or cooking them with other green, leafy vegetables like kale. I also like drinking dandelion root tea a couple of times a week – I just put one tea bag in a thermos full of hot water and sip.

The flowers are also edible. Dandelion flowers have also been found to contain compounds called flavonoids, which give the flowers their yellow color. Flavonoids are the same antioxidants that are found in red wine and green tea that help to fight disease. You can add dandelion flower petals directly into your salads or stir-fry them with your vegetables. The color yellow is used in color therapy to stimulate the stomach, spleen, and pancreas —  just another way these lovely yellow flowers help us with digestion.

Dandelion leaves and roots are used to cleanse the liver; treat problems such as diabetes, acne, cancer, anemia, high blood pressure, and gall bladder issues; premenstrual symptoms such as bloating, gas and water weight gain; and urinary disorders.

Dandelion is a natural diuretic that removes excess toxins and water from your body, which purifies the blood. By purifying the blood, your liver has to do less work. For many, the liver is overburdened with the amount of work it has to do on a daily basis. The liver is the organ that breaks down the majority of medications we take and it removes metabolites from alcohol and fatty foods. Dandelion not only benefits the liver, but also its digestive partner, the gallbladder. The gallbladder is responsible for bile production, which allows the body to break down fats. You need proper bile flow to utilize fats properly. As a diuretic, dandelion stimulates you to urinate more. This helps to cleanse the entire urinary tract and naturally lowers blood pressure.

Dandelion is also great for diabetics because it helps the body to produce insulin and control blood sugar. It also plays a role in bone health as a great source of calcium.

As you can see, this little yellow flower that many consider an unwanted weed is a blessing found in your own backyard. Next time you see one, make a wish – and share the story of how this little flower really is magical.