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Dandelions - Natural remedy of the month

   October 2009 


According to my dictionary, the word herb means any aromatic plant used to flavour food or in medicine or perfume.

Dandelions therefore just about quality; they are certainly interesting and have been used as a medicine for many centuries.

The proper name for dandelions is taraxacum officinale. The name dandelion is thought to have originated in France, a rough English translation for the French Dent de Lion, or lion’s tooth which might have been used because of the jagged edges to the yellow flowers.

Their medicinal history certainly dates back a few hundred years. History shows early colonists who arrived in the Americas brought a quantity of dandelions with them for use as a food and tonic, and in more recent times they have been widely used for a wide number of health purposes.

Today, dandelions are mainly used to help detoxify the system, the root especially is said to encourage the steady elimination of toxins from the body. But they are also used for the treatment of gall bladder, kidney and urinary disorders, gallstones, jaundice, cirrhosis and gout. As a tonic, dandelion is said to strengthen the kidneys. Dandelion is a powerful diuretic and does not deplete the body of potassium.

The whole part of the dandelion is said to be beneficial. The leaves can be chewed raw, but usually they are boiled in water to make a tea like drink, often with some added sugar to remove the bitter taste. The stalks and roots too can be boiled. Some herbalists say the milky substance from the stem is very helpful to treat warts, although there have been some reports of allergies from this. The fresh juice from dandelion has an antibacterial action that inhibits the growth of staphococcus aureus and can be applied externally to fight general bacteria and to help heal wounds.

The leaves of the dandelion contain a number of vital nutrients including thiamin and riboflavin, and including dandelion leaves and also the yellow flowers to salads gives new flavour and colour as well as a healthy addition.

In France dandelions are cultivated for culinary purposes. Here we still treat the plant as a weed, but why not try some dandelion tea for a change. You can buy commercial dandelion products from a number of health shops; or if you are picking wild dandelions just be sure you are in an area which hasn’t been treated with pesticides.

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