A Dozen uses for Dandelions

If you are anything like me, you’ve got a love-hate relationship with Dandelions too. Growing up, I was my father's right hand gal when helping with lawn work.  I was taught to have pride in your yard and that dandelions are the enemy.  Then I became an Herbalist and my view on dandelions changed drastically. 

The history of the dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) dates back to the early colonists who brought it to North America, where people valued it for medicinal and nutritional benefits.  There are so many things that the dandelion can be used for.  The root contains a rich spectrum of vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, phosphorus and zinc, just to name a few. The leaves are particularly nutrient rich and contain beta-carotene, vitamin B1, B2, choline, inositol, folic acid, C, calcium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, taraxacin, bitter glycosides, and terpenoids.  So in other words: dandelions are super healthy and nutritious.  

How to use these “pesky weeds”:

  1. Make a bouquet of flowers for yourself or a friend.  Once you look past the idea of dandelion being a pesky weed, you can see that it is a beautiful flower and can add a burst of brightness to your day.
  2. When digging the plant; save the root.  Dry it out and make it into a tea to support the liver. 
  3. When you break apart the stem you will notice a white sap.  This can be applied to warts to get rid of them.  FYI it can turn the skin a bit black, that is how you know it is doing its job.
  4. Make a dandelion crown.  Choose dandelions with long stems and tie them to each other to make a crown.  This is one of my favorite things to do with children.
  5. Keep them!?! Dandelions provide one of Nature’s first foods for bee populations. Having dandelions in one’s yard helps to aerate the soil and make nutrients more available for other plants.
  6. After you dig and clean the root, then you can pickle them for a delicious snack.  
  7. Dandelion flowers can be used as a poultice for wounds. 
  8. Dandelion leaf is known as a galactagogue, it increases the nursing mother’s milk supply and bolsters its nutritional quality. 
  9. Cut and infuse the leaf with other plants such as nettle and alfalfa in vinegar or apple cider vinegar for a nutritive shrub.  Strain and add the infused vinegar to salads as a dressing, add it to sparkling water for a refreshing drink, or take a swig every morning for a nutritional boost. 
  10. The young leaves, gathered before the flower stalk achieves full height while the flowers have not yet formed, may be added to salads
  11. Add the flowers to your omelette.  Sauté them with a little butter and seasonings then add to the pan once the omelette starts to set. Pour a little flavored olive oil on top
  12. Make into a wine.  Boil 2 cups of flowers and 1 cup honey, juice of 4 lemons, and some spices such as cloves and anise in 2 liters of water. Cool, strain and add wine if desired.  Refrigerate and drink a glass daily.

Please note: As with all herbs; do not collect from areas that have been sprayed in the past two or even three years. Dandelion is generally regarded as safe, although there is always a possibility that one can be allergic to anything. 

Chrissy Lee-Manes
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