DANDELION

Taraxacum officinale 

Part/s Used:  Roots + Leaves + Flowers 
Energetics:  Cooling, bitter, drying, mildly sweet
Actions: Alterative, diuretic, aperient, cholagogue, hepatic
Constituents:  Vitamins A and B. Leaf: calcium, potassium, iron, carotenoids, coumarins.  Root: potassium, calcium, phenolic acids, taraxocoside, inulin

Medicinal Preparations:

Tincture:  1:2-1:3+         Dry (ratio & % alcohol):  1:5 60%
Drops: 20-120                Times a day: 4x
Glycerite: 1:2                  Glycerin: 60%   Alcohol: 40% or 50/50
Tea:  Hot infusion or strong decoction
Ounces: 4-8                    Times a day: 3-4x

Habitat: 

Dandelion grows in fields, pastures, meadows, along roadsides, wastelands, sidewalks, lawns and gardens throughout the world. Although it will grow almost anywhere, dandelion prefers rich, moist soil and lots of sun.  It has a thick, long dark tap root that commonly grows 6-18 inches deep but has been known to penetrate to a depth of 10 feet.  Roots can regenerate after the plant has been cut.  Dandelion has a bitter white milky sap within the root. The leaves are hairless, smooth with jagged shaped edges and formed in a rosette.  Dandelion flowers are bright golden yellow and are a good source of pollen and nectar for insects and bees in the early spring, summer and into autumn.  Dandelion seed heads disperse its seeds throughout the year and even the slightest breeze can dislodge a seed head and carry it away.  When the seed soft seed lands in a spot where growing needs are met, and new dandelion plant will grow.

Medicinal Uses:

Dandelion root is an excellent bitter tonic. It is most often consumed as a food or supplement and is quite flavorful and nutritious. High in starch, mildly sweet and bitter. The liver cleansing properties are useful in the spring after the long winter months. Harvesting roots in the late summer and early fall are sweeter and more nourishing because they are higher in starch and inulin.  The fresh root tincture is a good anti-inflammatory for hives and allergic reactions. 

All the parts of Dandelion are useful and used in a general way as a liver cleanser, diuretic and blood purifier.  The roots are often used medicinally for the liver and digestion, while the young leaves most often used in water based preparations for diuretic actions helping the urinary tract and kidneys flush out waste. Also, a good source of potassium as synthetic diuretic deplete this important nutrient.  It is a gentle detox and good for edema for the hands, feet and face. 

Dandelion is excellent for individuals with estrogen excess and estrogen cancers (lumps in breasts, long cycles, PMS, cramping menses).  Too much estrogen is hard on the liver causing stagnation causing issues like acne.  The same can be used for males with excess testosterone.   Useful in individuals who are easily angered and aggressive.  Common elated levels in anabolic men include moist skin, cystic acne.

Harvesting: 

The first green springtime leaves are often preferred when eating as they are less bitter.  Those seeking the bitter flavor can harvest all season. Only large, fleshy roots should be collected in damp weather in moist, clean soil away from wastelands and roadsides.  Late summer, early fall.   Older roots are bitter and woody.  To cleanse the roots, clean off dirt and put them in basket in a running stream for an hour.  Make a tincture by soaking the chopped roots in brandy.  The bitterness of the roots is sweetened by the brandy. 

Contraindications:

Dandelion is the Asteraceae family and while rare, it may cause reaction in sensitive people to this family. Some may be allergic to the milky latex.  Those with Gallbladder or Kidney issues should consult with a doctor before taking dandelion. Those on blood thinners or diuretics should avoid dandelion

 

Sources:
The Book of Herbal Wisdom by Matthew Wood
A Modern Herbal Volume 1 by Mrs. M. Grieve
The Science and Art of Herbalism by Rosemary Gladstar
Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West by Michael Moore