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Native Natural Remedies » Other Home Remedies » The Lion-Faced Weed: Dandelions and Their Healing Potential

The Lion-Faced Weed: Dandelions and Their Healing Potential

Gardeners and lawn fanatics abhor them, but practitioners of herbal medicine find them endearing for a variety of reasons.  Widely accessible and delightful as a nutritious potherb, dandelions offer several health benefits that should not be ignored.  Dandelions promote healthy function of the digestive system, kidneys, and liver.  They first sprouted their sunny faces in Eurasia roughly thirty million years ago and eventually spread to North America.  Various peoples have eaten and used dandelions medicinally throughout history as well as today.

Although an untold sum is spent annually to eradicate them from popping up in lawns and gardens around the country, dandelions, for centuries, have been eaten raw; sautéed to mix with other greens; made into wine; used as a coffee substitute; ingested to ward off indigestion, gall stones, and uric acid kidney stones; and eaten to reduce liver inflammation.  But these are just a few of the plant’s uses.  This most common of weeds appears to contain a myriad of health benefits and uses.

Dandelions are most popularly eaten to assist with digestion—particularly the digestion of fats.  People prone to indigestion and bloating find relief from these problems by drinking a dandelion tincture or tea before eating.  The dandelions stimulate digestion and bile production which is also helpful for the digestion of fat.  Additionally, dandelions have been pharmacologically recognized for their ability to reduce liver inflammation, sometimes associated with hepatitis C, as well as liver sensitivity.  Drinking tea made with the roots of dandelions is known to thin the bile, which also explains why gall stones are less likely to form since the thinned bile does not concentrate.

Folk medicine practitioners have used the leaf of the dandelion as a diuretic for centuries as well.  Moreover, dandelions have been known to eliminate uric acid kidney stones and reduce the onset of gout.  Dandelion, with its inulin content, is also known to promote healthy large intestine function by inducing the growth of beneficial microflora and reducing the production of more harmful bacteria.  Some practitioners have suggested that dandelion can also be used to treat some infections such as female urinary tract infections.  While these have historically been the plant’s most popular uses, some have also claimed that dandelion milk will ward off mosquitoes and possibly treat warts.

If roasting the ground roots of dandelions to make coffee does not appeal, consider adding this edible plant to salads to benefit from its nutritional content.  Dandelions contain Vitamins A, K, and C as well as healthy amounts of potassium, calcium, manganese, and iron.  And, before eliminating dandelions from the garden for aesthetic reasons, consider that this prolific weed releases ethylene gas which actually helps fruit to ripen.  Dandelions are also quite attractive to insects that spread pollen.  Finally, the weed’s taproot is helpful for delivery of vital soil nutrients to other plants with more shallow roots.  Tasty, healthful, and helpful in the garden—dandelions are also easy to procure; most people can simply pick them out of their own backyards.

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Article by J.A. Young

Filed under: Other Home Remedies

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