The leaves and root of the dandelion plant contain impressive levels of vitamins A, C, D, and B as well as minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese, copper, choline, calcium, boron, and silicon. Dandelion root and leaf are often listed as the ingredients of teas and poultices for abscesses and sores, especially on the breast and in female health remedies as they can help support lactation and remedy urinary issues. Jayne Leonard has compiled a list of 24 reasons to go & pick Dandelions right now over at naturallivingideas.com.
Who hasn’t seen those pesky yellow weeds pop up in the garden from time to time? Yet try as you might – from picking them to poisoning them – nothing keeps them at bay for too long.
Perhaps it’s time you embraced the tenacious dandelion and all the benefits it can bring?
The Health Benefits of Dandelions
Dandelion has been used throughout history to treat everything from liver problems and kidney disease to heartburn and appendicitis.
Every part of this common weed – from the roots to the blossoms – is edible. It’s a good thing too, as the humble dandelion is bursting with vitamins A, B, C and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium and zinc.
Some benefits of eating your weeds:
- The leaves boast more beta carotene than carrots, meaning they are great for healthy eyes!
- The greens also provide 535% of the recommended daily value of vitamin K, which is vital for strengthening bones and preventing cognitive decline.
- A 2011 study showed that dandelion root tea may induce leukemia cells to die. Researchers reported that the tea didn’t send the same ‘kill’ message to healthy cells.
- The plant is a diuretic that helps the kidneys clear out waste, salt and excess water by increasing urine production – perhaps the reason that European children’s lore claims you will wet the bed if you pick the flowers!
- With such a rich nutrient load, the plant is filled with antioxidants – which may help stave off premature aging, cancer, and other illnesses caused by oxidative stress.
- Animal studies discovered that dandelion root and leaf manages cholesterol levels.
- Research also shows that dandelion extract boosts immune function and fights off microbes.
- Dandelion can also help the digestive system according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Fresh or dried dandelion can stimulate the appetite and settle the stomach while the root of the plant may act as a mild laxative.
24 Remarkable Uses for Dandelions
In the Kitchen
Because the entire plant is edible there are a myriad of ways in which you can use dandelion for culinary purposes.
Sautéed Greens and Garlic
With their rich mineral and vitamin content, dandelion greens are a healthy addition to any meal. Sautéing withgarlic (or ginger or capers) adds flavor and negates some of the bitterness often associated with these leaves. Blanching them by immersing them in boiling water for 20 to 30 seconds helps reduce this acrid taste. Avoid the very mature leaves as these can be too unpleasant for some. This double garlic and greens recipe is a delicious one.
Dandelion Pumpkin Seed Pesto
This nutritious pesto is perfect for a simple pasta, sandwich spread or veggie dip. Because the dandelion greens have a slight bite, the toasted pumpkin seeds, lemon juice and parmesan are vital to bring balance. Here is how you make it.
Fried dandelion flowers, first dipped in seasoned batter, make a tasty, attractive and novel snack or side dish. By removing all the bitter green parts, you’re left with the mild-tasting and faintly sweet blossoms. Follow this recipe here.
Enjoy increased wellbeing by using this herbal vinegar on salads, in dressings, soups, stews and sauces or by simply mixing with water and drinking as a revitalizing tonic. Infuse dandelion flowers in apple cider vinegar for four weeks, strain and store in a dark place for up to twelve months. These steps outline how to make the infusion.
For Health and Beauty
Dandelion’s properties extend beyond the dinner table – they can also be harnessed to reduce pain and inflammation, and treat minor skin maladies.
Pain Relieving Oil
Dandelions are one of the most useful plants to reduce joint pain and aching muscles. Infuse the flowers in an oil and rub onto sore muscles and joints, or anywhere pain strikes. To make, simply fill a small mason jar with fresh dandelion flowers and pour in a base oil – like sweet almond or olive – until the jar is full. Leave to infuse in a warm place for two weeks before straining the oil and decanting into a sterilized jar. Store in the fridge.
Pain Relieving Salve
For a more portable version of the pain relieving oil, go one step further and turn the infusion into a soothing balm – ideal for carrying in your purse or gym bag, or keeping in the car or office. Create a double boiler and blend beeswax with the infused oil. Pour this mixture into a jar or tin and allow to cool before using. Exact measurements and instructions are here.
These therapeutic lotion bars help the toughest cases of cracked, dry skin by adding moisture and alleviating inflammation and soreness. If you’re an avid gardener, or frequently do very manual work, rub the bar over your hands several times a day. It’s a lot less messy than salve! Blend infused dandelion oil with beeswax, shea butter and lavender essential oil for a silky, smooth healing bar. The full process is detailed here.
In the Home and Garden
Use dandelions to add a pop of color to your home, or some much needed nutrients to the garden.
Floating Table Centerpiece
Make a stunning and chic dandelion centerpiece simply using reclaimed wood and small nails. Assemble a box from the wood, hammer small finishing nails through the underside, and slide handpicked dandelions on top – creating a centerpiece that appears to be floating.
Natural Yellow Dye
Cook dandelion heads for an all-natural alternative to chemical-based dyes – which can contribute to water pollution. This is an especially useful tip for those who weave their own wool but can be used on any garment. Here is how you can use the dye to brighten up your fabrics.