Dandelion: Weed or Medicinal Powerhouse?
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) has a bad reputation as nothing more than a pesky week. Like most other weeds that people regard as a mere nuisance, dandelion has scientifically-proven medicinal properties and an extensive history of use.
An Arabian doctor first recorded dandelion’s curative properties in the tenth century. Dandelion was once called “piddle bed” because of its ability to increase urine flow. The French has a less tactful name for the plant as well: “pissenlit.” For those of you who don’t speak any French I’ll let you know that “en lit” means “in bed.” I’ll leave you to figure out the rest.
The Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism cites research supporting the liver-regenerating properties of dandelion, particularly in cases of jaundice, liver swelling, hepatitis, and indigestion.
In a study published in the journal Molecules, researchers found that animals given dandelion had a reduction in fatigue and a boost in immunity.
According to Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, author of The Fat Flush Plan, dandelion root aids the liver and fat metabolism in two ways: it stimulates the liver to produce more bile to send to the gallbladder, and at the same time causes the gallbladder to contract and release its stored bile, assisting with fat metabolism.
Some health professionals advise taking dandelion root tea for people on antidepressant medications since these drugs can impede the liver’s detoxification pathways.
According to research cited in The Purification Plan, dandelion helps break down toxins before they have a chance to damage cells and may therefore be useful for cancer prevention.
In a study published in Advances in Hematology, researchers found that dandelion significantly increased both red and white blood cells, making it a possible aid in the treatment of anemia, blood purification, immune system modulation.
Due to pesticides and pollutants I don’t recommend picking dandelion root from your lawn unless you live away from traffic and are confident of the land’s organic status. You can take one to two teaspoons of dandelion root extract or supplement with 500 to 2000 mg daily in capsules for two weeks to help cleanse your liver.
Dandelion greens tend to work best on the urinary tract while the root works on the liver. If you choose to incorporate dandelion greens into your diet, check out my article 10 Sensation Spring Superfoods.
If you plan to use the root to give your liver a boost, a typical dose is 500 to 2000 mg of dandelion root in capsule form. You can also make a decoction (a type of herbal medicinal tea) by using two teaspoons of powdered dandelion root per cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes. Make a large enough batch that it won’t just evaporate during the cooking time. Drink one cup three times daily. A third option is to take one teaspoon of alcohol-based tincture, three times daily. Be sure to consult with a naturally-minded doctor if you suffer from any health conditions or if you are taking prescription drugs as some drugs can interfere with herbal medicines.
We spend billions of dollars searching for the one miracle pill that will cure what ails us while Mother Nature has provided medicine right beneath our noses. If we’d only stop killing the “weeds” we contend with on our lawns and instead cultivate these powerful healing herbs we’d be much healthier (that is, unless you live in a high traffic area or spray your lawn with toxic pesticides).
Adapted from The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan.