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Why does everyone hate dandelions? I’ve always wondered that, ever since I was a little kid. I’ve always thought of them as flowers – cheery yellow ones or white puffy ones you can make a wish on as you blow their fluff away.
I’ve never thought of them as weeds, even though I’ve seen countless TV commercials for weed-killing sprays promising immaculate lawns – all with big, bright pictures of poor little dandelions on the bottle.
So many people view dandelions as a nuisance that ruins the appearance of their lawns when they could really be viewed as powerful medicinal herbs. I’ll admit, dandelions might not be quite as beautiful as some other flowers are, but it’s such a waste to kill them. They’re pretty in their own simple way, but, more than that, they’re valuable for their healing properties too.
Dandelions Weren’t Always Considered Weeds
“Slightly tonic, diuretic, and aperient. The leaves eaten as greens are excellent for the blood. The milky juice is good for stranguary, dropsy, and inflammation of the liver; two or three table-spoonfuls several times a day. A strong decoction of the roots and leaves is good for the same purpose; a gill may be drunk frequently” (pg 110).
Dandelions were also highly valued because their leaves were among the first new edible greenery to come up in the spring. In previous centuries, before it was possible to pick up a head of lettuce at the grocery store all 12 months of the year, having something fresh and green to eat in the spring was something to celebrate.
Benefits of Dandelion Roots and Leaves
A modern-day herbal book, The Herbal Kitchen, by Kami McBride calls the dandelion a “nutritive tonic that enhances overall wellness.” The inulin in dandelion root also “nourishes the beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract and enhances digestion” (pg. 59).
Dandelions are pretty amazing. This is a list of just some of the healing properties of dandelions according to The Herbal Kitchen:
- Bitter flavor stimulates healthy digestion
- Contains minerals and vitamins A, C, and E
- Supports healthy liver function
- Supports urinary tract function
- Helps with skin complaints
- Useful for detoxification
(Note: Those with gallstones or bile duct problems should avoid dandelion.)
Dandelions are also special because every part of them is useful. The roots can be dried and made into a tea, the leaves can be eaten fresh in salads, and the flowers are pretty to look at (in my opinion anyways.) Not every plant is so multi-purpose as the humble dandelion.
Dandelions grow pretty much everywhere, but I never harvest any dandelions unless they are in my own yard where I know they haven’t been sprayed by any chemical weed-killers or pesticides. (I also mainly harvest the ones that grow inside my garden fence so I know my dog hasn’t done her business on them.) For people who don’t have a dog, this wouldn’t be a problem, but I’d rather not have my dandelions watered that way!
If you have a chemical-free, non-toxic lawn, you can harvest your own dandelions for free. If not, though, or if it’s winter and your yard is covered with snow, you can find dandelion teas in most health food stores or online, and you can sometimes find the leaves in the produce section too when they are in season.
I’ve always liked dandelions as a wildflower, but now I appreciate them so much more as an herb. I’m never planning on spraying toxic weed-killer on my little dandelions. I’m going to harvest them and enjoy them, and, whenever I see one with a puffy white ball, I’ll make a wish and blow those shimmering seeds all over the lawn for next year!
This post is linke to Sunday School at Butter Believer, Scratch Cookin’ Tuesday at Granny’s Vital Vittles, Natural Living Link-Up at Jill’s Home Remedies, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways Wednesday at Frugally Sustainable, Thank Your Body Thursday at Thank Your Body, Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade, and Fresh Bites Friday a Real Food Whole Health.