I'm not including any pictures this week because I'm sure pretty much everyone in North America know the dandelion (or Taraxacum sp. in Latin). I've just finished researching the finer points of the medicinal uses for dandelion and, really, it's pretty amazing. Here's an excerpt from my Materia Medica I'm working on for my herbalist class:
Dandelion (Taraxacum sp)
Parts used: root (collected at the end of the season) and leaves (collected when
Constituents: taraxacin (bitter), triterpenes, sugars, vitamins, potassium.
Action: diuretic, tonic, stimulant (to urinary tract – kidneys especially), mild laxative.
Indications: good for kidney stones, urinary tract dysfunction, circulatory system as diuretic. cleansing to the blood and lymphatic system.
Preparation/Dosage: Strong decoction for kidney stones. Add sliced root, bring to boil, reduce to simmer for 20 minutes. Let set and then strain and cool. Drink 1-2 C/ day. Tea: decoct – 1 tsp dried chopped root per cup of water . Drink 2-3 C/day for digestion or as diuretic.
Leaves: add to salad (they're bitter - more bitter after the plant flowers and less bitter if gathered before)
milk of the root is medicinally beneficial.
*Prescription diuretics typically require a potassium supplement. This is not necessary with dandelion because it is high in potassium.
*supports liver which eliminates toxins for the body – so it can be beneficial for acne.
*sugars and starches in dandelion roots are easily digested and can help diabetics control blood sugar levels.
*Native Americans used the white milk of the stem to soothe bee stings. (it can also be used for external use on warts, blisters, hard pimples)
I have some experience using dandelion for urinary tract issues. In addition to taking cranberry pills and avoiding sugar, I drank a strong decoction of dandelion root and marshmallow (more on this herb soon - which is soothing to digestive and urinary systems). I drank 2-3 C over a period of 4 days. It helped stimulate the kidneys and flush my system. (but remember, if it lasts more than a few days you need to see a doctor. If the infection moves to the kidneys, that's serious business)
You can also make 'coffee' from roasted dandelion roots. I don't drink coffee and I've never tried this. I my adventurous husband said he would try this as an 'experiment' for me. If we do it this fall, I'll be sure to post about it!!!
What's a decoction, you ask? Simply put, it's an infusion (like I wrote about previously), but made with either roots, seeds, or bark. An infusion is made with leaves or flowers (or valerian root, because it's just an oddball). You slice the root (dry or fresh) and add it to a pot of water. Set it to boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes, strain, then drink. It should be good fro up to 48 hrs or so, but remember to stick it in the fridge.
So, see? Dandelions aren't just for kids!