Daffodils and dandelions tell us spring is just around the corner. Both plants produce lovely yellow flowers, but one we fertilize, and the other we poison. Ironically, it’s the one we detest that we should actually revere. Daffodils may be pretty, but dandelions are packed with nutritional and medicinal benefits!
Dandelion leaves are rich in vitamins K and A and also contain vitamins C, B1, B2, B6, and folate. They’re a good source of iron, calcium, and potassium, with smaller amounts of manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. Did you know that dandelion leaves are among the best sources of beta carotene, along with other leafy greens? It might be well worth your while to create a special bed to grow organic dandelions. No need for a green thumb either–they’ll thrive even under the most negligent of conditions.
The leaves are best eaten in the spring, when they’re young and tender since the full-grown leaves tend to be bitter. You can add the leaves to salads or cook them with a little salt, pepper, and lemon juice for a simple but nutritious side dish. If the flavor is still too strong combine them with other greens like spinach or chard.
Dandelion leaves are also used in some digestive drinks (bitters) and herb beers, but we mainly drink them as a tea, combined with the root. In fact, the root provides the most important medicinal uses and is excellent for detoxification and liver support. You can easily find dandelion root tea or make your own, combining it with other herbs that improve the taste. (Try ginger or chai tea with it.)
Dandelion flowers are typically not eaten, although you can find a few recipes that incorporate them. They’re also made into dandelion wine in some parts of the world, but I’m not so sure I’d be a fan. Still, I’m willing to try it if I run across some.
Other health benefits, properties, and uses include:
3. Urinary, kidney, gallbladder, bladder, spleen, pancreas, and liver disorders
4. Digestive aid (helps with constipation)
5. Stomachaches (drink 1/2 cup tea every 1/2 hour until better)
6. Breast abscesses
7. Lowers high blood pressure
11. Increases lactation
12. Cancer support (For example, the Dandelion Root Project at the University of Windsor, UK has been studying the use of dandelion extract for terminally ill cancer patients.)
There are no known side effects from eating dandelions or drinking dandelion tea, but there are many health benefits! You can easily drink several cups of tea every day as a preventative or for maintaining good health.
This spring, don’t poison your dandelions! They are God’s gift to you for good health. Enjoy them!
Copyright © by Bobbi Mullins, originally published March 7, 2016
Grieve, M. (1971). A Modern Herbal. New York: Dover Publications
Tierra, M. (1998). The Way of Herbs. New York: Pocket Books