Saturday, September 30, 2017

Dandelions: Potential above a weed.

Dandelions are the most common-found plant in just about any location you live in. If you have a garden, it's likely that you've come to curse their existence; spreading like wildfire and almost impossible to irradicate. However, these wonderful plants should not be viewed as just a nuisance. Dandelions have been used as a very potent healing herb for many centuries and their medicinal properties have found a resurgence in the modern era.

I know what you're thinking. "It's just a weed, how is that possible?"

It may be a weed to some just because they are good at what they do. They can grow essentially everywhere and the deep root systems that they have will make it more difficult to completely take them out. However, a weed by definition is: "A valueless plant growing wild, especially one that grows on cultivated ground to the exclusion or injury of the desired crop.(dictionary.com) but by that definition, Mint is a weed if left to its own devices ( and we all love mint to some extent or another).

So Dandelions may not necessarily just be a weed. What can they do for us? As mentioned above, they have some medical properties that would thrill the budding herbalist, they can be cultivated as food, and of course, dandelions have some magical properties. ( You didn't think I'd leave that out did you?)


Dandelions in Food

It should be important to mention early on that if you spray your yard with herbicides then I would not eat anything that pops up in your yard. If possible, try to set up a special trough that's well out of the way of your sprays and plant clean dandelion seeds in it to grow them naturally. 

Now, onto the fun. Most parts of the dandelion will be used in food or drink, but let's start from top to bottom.

Dandelion Flowers:

The flower heads are (in my opinion) the most versatile. They can be prepared for:
Credit: SimplyCanning.com
  1.  Syrups
  2.  Jams/Jelly
  3.  Cookies
  4.  Wine
  5.  Fried flower heads. Yum. 
There are many recipes online that will show you how to utilize them to their fullest potential. I highly recommend taking advantage of it.

Dandelion Leaves:

These are one of the more nutritious parts of the flower. The leaves can be used in:
  1. Salads
  2. Garnishes
  3. Quesadillas 
  4. Pizza greens
Honestly, these leaves can be used to replace lettuce in most of your favorite recipes. These are just a few I could think of right off the bat. However, if you do try it in some of your favorite dishes, post a comment. I'd love to see what you can think of!

Dandelion Roots:

This is another part of the Dandelion that's really good for you, and you might be surprised at how it can be used.

  1. They can be dried to be eaten like a carrot. Tastes good with a little ranch.
  2. Dandelion Coffee. Yes, this is real. For all of you coffee-lovers out there, there's a cheaper and healthier alternative. 
  3. Dandelion tea. One may think that the leaves would be better for this, but the roots serve a better purpose as a tea than the leaves will.
Some of these, such as the tea, may not come as a surprise. I've even seen Dandelion teas being distributed at health food stores so if you don't want to go through the trouble of dehydrating your dandelion roots for a cup of tea, you have an alternative. Similarly, Dandelion coffee is also sold commercially. I've been only able to find it online but keep your eyes peeled for it on the shelves of your local store. It may not be long before it makes its presence more known.

Dandelions in Medicine

As a fair warning, the information provided on this blog should never outweigh common sense or a doctor's professional advice as everyone has different needs and reactions to different things. So, as much as I hate sounding like a commercial, please consult your doctor before taking herbal remedies of any kind. Thank you.

When taking Dandelions medicinally, the parts used commonly are the leaves and the root. The best way to use the root is by tincture and the best way to utilize the leaf is by infusion. Dandelion root has been known to aid in digestion, liver function, and the pancreas. It also encourages bile secretion in your stomach, and while that may sound gross, bile helps stabilize blood sugar levels which is good news for those who struggle with it. Dandelion root has also been recognized for its ability to stimulate appetite in patients who struggled to eat. 

When taken with Burdock and Echinacea, Dandelion root can also aid in chronic skin problems such as acne, boils, and eczema. It works as a gentle blood cleanser which detoxes your body, including the liver. 

The leaf is just as useful in medicine, used as a diuretic, it encourages the kidneys to flush additional fluids which can aid in weight loss. The leaves also help lower blood pressure and tends to contain high amounts of potassium, Vitamin A, C, and Iron.  

Dandelions in Magic

When we were all young, we used to pick the Dandelion puffs and make a wish before blowing them out. Little did we know, this practice has elements of magic in it. Dandelions were seen to be used in aiding divination practices as well as making wishes come true. 

Drinking dandelion tea before a divination will increase your accuracy. Leaving the empty cup with the leaves still in it will call spirits to you. These aspects connect the dandelion with the Goddess Hecate who presides over the underworld and divination, drinking this tea during Samhain and Litha will make your abilities more powerful. 

Dandelions are also popular herbs to present to your altar during the Beltane and Litha as a celebration of fertility over the land. The little buggers multiply faster than rabbits, so they're virtually the perfect model for this stuff.

All in all, dandelions are much more useful than we've given them credit for in the past. With this new information, I hope to see and hear about what you're going to utilize this robust little plant with both your health and your practice.

 Bright Blessings!