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Weeds as Medicine: Dandelion's Herbal Virtues

Commonly viewed as a weed, Dandelion is one of the most powerful and ubiquitous herbs available to us. Their common name means “dent de lion” in French. This means "lion’s teeth" and describes the plant’s characteristic dentate leaf shape.


With cooling and detoxifying properties, this herb is excellent at helping remove waste and toxins from the body through multiple channels. They are particularly supportive of the digestive and urinary systems. Dandelion is also incredibly high in minerals, serving as a tonic and nourishing herb. The variety and scope of conditions Dandelion can help with are vast, read on to learn more about this incredible herbal ally.



Herb Info


Common Name: Dandelion

Botanical Name: Taraxacum officinale

Plant Family: Asteraceae

General characteristics: Long, toothed leaves with bright yellow, daisy-like flowers. Stem produces a white juice when pressed. Michael Moore describes the distribution of this plant as “better than the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and USA Today combined - what can I say?”


Precautions: Be careful if you have hypotension as the diuretic qualities of this herb can lower blood pressure. Taking Dandelion while also on diuretics or blood pressure medications increases the risk of dizziness from too low of blood pressure. Dandelion is contraindicated with obstructed bile ducts and gallbladders as they can move gallstones to somewhere more painful or dangerous. It’s also a good idea to avoid this herb if you are allergic to plants in the Asteraceae family - check out my post on Calendula for more information about allergies to this family. Dandelion should also be avoided in advanced cases of kidney dysfunction or disease, or if undergoing dialysis treatments.


Herbal Actions

  • Diuretic

  • Alterative

  • Bitter

  • Cholagogue

  • Anti-rheumatic

  • Laxative

  • Tonic

  • Hepatic

  • Aperient

  • Hypoglycemic blood sugar balancer

  • Anti-inflmmatory

Dandelion's Medicinal Virtues


All parts of Dandelion are good to work with, each having their own medicinal qualities. Overall, Dandelion is an excellent remedy to clear excess heat and remove toxins and fluids from the body. Matthew Wood shares that Dandelion is “indicated when heat descends deeply into the tissues, thickening fluids, slowing down drainage, inflaming the deeper tissues, and even infecting the bones.”

The root stimulates the liver and gallbladder to clear waste from the body and relieve inflammation and congestion. It gently and effectively encourages the production and release of bile. This is very helpful for issues that result from liver stagnancy, including constipation, depression, high cholesterol, arthritis, varicose veins, eczema and acne.


Helping to remove toxins from the body, Dandelion root is beneficial for cases of chronic toxicity, whether it be from environmental factors, inflammation, infection or other causes. They are a great aid for any issue where clearing waste from the body will alleviate inflammation and bring relief.


Dandelion is an excellent blood cleanser and blood tonic that also cleanses our lymph, promoting a healthy immune system. The root is also a good anti-inflammatory for hives, arthritis and other extended allergic reactions and reactions to toxicity.

As an herb that helps stabilize blood sugar levels, Dandelion root can be supportive in the early stages of Type 2 Diabetes by causing the Pancreas to release insulin and normalizing blood sugar levels.

The root is also a great prebiotic, meaning that it feeds our microbiome and promotes healthy gut flora. This is particularly true for roots harvested in Autumn, which are higher in inulin. Dandelion roots harvested in the Spring are more bitter, so determining how you’d like to partner with Dandelion can inform the time of year you choose to harvest the roots.

In their clinical practices, both Matthew Wood and Lucy Jones have had success using Dandelion with manic depressive clients. Particularly when there is excess heat and stagnation in the mind, the cooling, detoxifying properties of Dandelion can help move stuck energy to provide relief. For these same reasons, Dandelion can be helpful for insomnia, especially when it is associated with racing thoughts, heat and anger in the body.


As a liver supporter, Dandelion can also help sooth depression, as sadness and melancholy are associated with liver congestion. Culpeper wrote that this herb “helps to procure rest and sleep to bodies distempered by the heat of ague fits.” Lucy Jones describes Dandelion as manifesting "a bright, sunny, fiery flower that is balanced by an ethereal, dreamy, cooling seed head.”


A common spring tonic, Dandelion leaves are an incredible diuretic, flushing liquids from the body while restoring lost minerals and nutrients. This herb is one of the few diuretics that helps us retain important minerals, particularly Potassium, while also building up the retentive abilities of the kidneys to minimize nutrient loss from urination.


As a diuretic, Dandelion leaf is particularly supportive in cases of Edema, swelling, fluid retention and high blood pressure by helping to flush excess liquids out of the body. This action means that Dandelion can also help out with bladder and kidney infections.

Taraxacum officinale is supportive of our teeth as well - a diet of Dandelion greens improves teeth enamel. They can be supportive for infected root canals and can even help with re-calcifying the teeth in instances of bone loss. Externally, the white juice is good a remedy for warts, blisters, sores, pimples and bee stings as well.

Consuming Dandelion leaf can alleviate lethargy, sleepiness and a dull mind. Matthew Wood states that the leaf is “indicated in tiresome, achy, feverish, chronic infections with relief from urination.” Overall, this herb is a great choice whenever one is trying to remove excess fluids while building up the nutritional mineral stores in the body.

Herbal "Coffee" with Dandelion

When combined with other roots, Dandelion can make a delicious herbal coffee alternative. Here is an adaptation of an herbal coffee recipe that Juliette de Bairacli Levy shares in her book Common Herbs for Natural Health.


To make Dandelion tea, collect the roots in the fall at the end of the season (make sure to harvest from a clean location free of toxins). Dry roots at a low temperature until they emit a pleasant aroma. You can roast them if you’d like to add more flavor. Alternatively, you can purchase Dandelion root from a distributor like Mountain Rose Herbs or Pacific Botanicals.


Once you have your root, grind to a fine powder (or purchase in ground form) and mix with powdered coffee, Chicory root and Burdock root for a delicious and nourishing alternative to coffee.



Herbal Apprentice Program

If you want to learn more incredible herbal remedies and the power of plants, Artemisia Academy's Herbal Apprentice Program may be perfect for you. This 150-hour program is hands-on, interactive, and will give you the skills and knowledge you need to form deep and healing relationships with the herbal allies all around us.


Sources Used


About the Author

Alicia Cielle Heiser is an Astrologer, Herbalist and student at Artemisia Academy. Her work centers on facilitating a greater understanding of the cyclical nature of the world and the ways that we as humans fit within the greater whole. She is writing a series of materia medica blog posts for Artemisia to make the wisdom and knowledge of herbal medicine more available to more people. Alicia also has a podcast called Conversations with the Planets and she offers herbal astrology readings and crafts personalized herbal tea blends. You can find her at www.aliciacielle.com. 

 

Disclaimer: Information presented on this webpage is for educational purposes only, and does not include the diagnosis and treatment of disease nor replace the advice of a licensed physician. Please refer to a licensed health professional for any illness or persistent symptoms before using herbal remedies.


Herbs can sometimes cause discomfort or side effects, and may interact adversely with pharmaceutical medications. Do not use herbs internally without the approval of a doctor or medical professional if you are currently on medications or have a history of medical conditions.

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