The Dandelion is it a Pesky Weed or an Herbal Wonder?

By: Scott Meyers

Dandelion is considered to be one of the newest additions to the list of reputable herbal remedies. There has always been some curiosity about how the dandelion got its name. According to legend, the dandelion got its name from a surgeon in the 15th century who thought that the shape of the leaves resembled a lion's teeth. Dandelion is used differently in different parts of the world. In the West it is customary to separate the leaves and the root of the plant. However, in traditional Chinese medicine, it is customary to keep the plant intact when preparing herbal remedies.

While dandelions are often one of the first flowers to herald the arrival of spring, humans have recognized the potential of other herbs before turning to the dandelion, if at all. As an example, there is no written indication of anyone using this herb in the western hemisphere before it was noted in the Ortus Sanitatis of 1485. In traditional Chinese medicine, dandelion was virtually ignored until the 7th century.

The taste of dandelion has been described as cool, sweet, and sometimes bitter. It can aid a number of organs, including the heart. Dandelion leaves are some of the healthiest edible greens. If you have a lawn, dandelions are bound to grow there. Thus they are not just a healthy, organic alternative to supermarket greens, they are also very economical! If you use chemical means to rid your lawn of dandelions, just think of the money you will save by tossing these greens in a soup pot or salad bowl instead.

Dandelion leaves are known to contain bitter glycosides, vitamins A, B, C, D, and several minerals, including salt, iron, and potassium. The leaves also contain carotenoids, terpenoids, choline, and potassium salts. A juice created from dandelion leaves has been known to be an effective diuretic. Simply puree the leaves and take the juice whenever needed. Dandelion leaves are also believed to be good for bolstering the liver, and to aid digestion. Dandelion leaves can also be infused to create a tea that helps treat toxic conditions such as eczema, acne and gout.

The root of the dandelion plant is also often used for medicinal purposes. Roots contain tannins, volatile oils, triterpenes, sterols, bitter glycosides, asparagus, and insulin. Many traditional herbalists favor dandelion as a liver stimulant. The root is also often used as a gentle, nourishing, cleansing tonic. It has been used to treat a wide range of disorders including gallstones, joint inflammations, and chronic constipation. Dandelion root is also easily made into at tincture to treat gout, acne, and eczema.

Dandelion extracts can be found in a number of herbal remedies, and can also be prepared many different ways. Dandelion leaves can be consumed raw or cooked. Teas and tinctures made from various parts of this plant are both easy to make and affordable during the plant's growing season.

Alternative Medicine
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