Most people’s sole relationship with dandelion (taraxacum officinale) involves trying to eradicate it from their yard, but did you know that Dandelion is a highly nutritious bitter herb that, amongst other things, can assist with digestion and alleviating water retention? It is such an herbal superstar that renowned herbalist, Susan Weed, suggests that we could all benefit from eating a dandelion leaf after every meal. The best part? You have to go no further than your own yard to find it!
Had too much of a good thing?
Who among us hasn’t had the occasional post-meal discomfort? Our stomachs blow up like we inhaled a balloon, and we are just overall uncomfortable. It doesn’t feel good and it definitely doesn’t look good! Eating a couple dandelion leaves will assist in digestion and help prevent the dreaded post-meal bloat. Dandelion is a bitter herb and bitter herbs by nature assist with digestion. It doesn’t taste as good as lettuce or spinach (helpful hint- the younger, smaller leaves are less bitter than the bigger leaves) but it’s more than worth it to eat dandelion. Your stomach will thank you. An easy way to consume dandelion is to pick a few leaves and add it to your salad.
Bloat be gone!
Dandelion leaves are a known diuretic, however unlike over-the-counter commercial diuretics which deplete the body’s potassium, dandelion is completely safe and actually provides vitamins and minerals instead of depleting them. (Dandelion has equal amounts sodium and potassium, which counter-balances any ill effects that a diuretic would normally have on the kidneys.) Simply eating a few raw leaves will assist in expelling excess water, or you can make dandelion tea with the dried herb (one teaspoon dried herb per 1-2 cups of water, and add a little chamomile to decrease bitterness).
Need to get things moving?
Dandelion root is a safe, mild laxative. Often times simply pulling the leaf from the base of the plant (thus getting the thick leaf stalk) is sufficient for many people’s needs, but dandelion root can be found in most natural food stores. Simply boil 1 tsp of dried root in 8oz water for twenty minutes and drink (again, you can add chamomile flowers for flavor). You can drink dandelion tea a few times throughout the day until your symptoms subside.
Get your vitamins while weeding your lawn
Dandelion leaves are highly nutritious. The leaves and roots are both very high in iron, manganese, phosphorous and Vitamin A. Dandelion also provides average amounts of Calcium, Vitamins B and C, Potassium, and Cobalt. In short, it’s like taking a multi-vitamin with the added benefits of improved digestion!
Dandelion is easy enough to find in your yard. We’ve all plucked one of the white fuzzy heads off a dandelion and blown into the wind, perhaps after making a wish? But if the flowers are not in bloom, here is how to identify the plant: Dandelion leaves have jagged (toothy) edges and are hairless (smooth to the touch). Dandelion leaves also grow close to the ground in a rosette formation. If you aren’t comfortable eating the dandelion from your yard you may be able to find dandelion at your local natural foods store. However you choose to procure it, dandelion indeed a good friend, keeping our digestive systems happy and our bellies tight!
“Healing Wise” by Susan S. Weed
“Nutritional Herbology” by Mark Pederson