|Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
While we usually think of the dandelion we see growing freely in fields as a weed, especially when it pops up on our lawns, this ubiquitous plant not only provides a tasty green salad but has a strong diuretic effect, which can be beneficial to liver function.
Plant Facts : Dandelion is a member of the composite family. The stems which, like the leaves, yield a milky substance-can reach a length of 16 inches. The leaves taste bitter, while the roots are bittersweet. The whole plant exudes a faint buttery sharp odor.
Origin : The dandelion is native to the entire Northern Hemisphere. The plant grows almost everywhere - in meadows, yards, gardens, between cobblestones and on old walls.
Components : The plant contains bitters that stimulate digestive secretions. Dandelion also contains triterpenes, sterols, phenolic acids, coumarins and, in the leaves and blossoms, flavanoids as well. Its remarkably high potassium content - upto 4.5 % makes it an excellent diuretic, since it does not deplete the body of this essential mineral.
Indications : Because of its well balanced medicinal ingredients, the dandelion has played an important part as a healing supplement in traditional medicine. It is a mild stimulant for the gallbladder and liver, helping them get rid of waste products and increasing bile flow; its effect on the liver makes dandelion beneficial for treating gout, rheumatism and skin diseases. Dandelion is useful in treating acne, eczema and psoriasis, as it reduces the body's efforts to eliminate toxins through the skin. In addition, dandelion relieves digestive complaints, such as bloating and flatulence; as an aromatic bitter, it stimulates appetite and promotes digestion. As a diuretic, the dandelion leaf alleviates fluid retention.
Extra Tip : Store dandelion root so that it is protected from light and moisture. It will keep for about 3 years in the whole, dried form only. If it is ground or powdered, its shelf life is reduced to 1 year.
Methods of Administration
Decoction : Prepare 1-2 tsp of finely chopped or powdered root, with or without leaves, in 1 cup of cold water, and bring it to a boil. Simmer gently for about 10 min.; strain. Drink 1 cup of this tea up to 3 times daily
Tincture : Prepare 2/3 oz. of dandelion root with 3 oz. of alcohol (brandy or vodka) . Let it stand for 4-6 weeks; filter. Take 30 drops with a little water 3 times a day.
Root Juice: Simmer 1/3 oz. of chopped roots with 1 cup of water for 15 min. and then filter. Drink 2 cups of the juice daily between meals.
Spring tonic: The root juice and the tea decoction are suitable for a spring or fall tonic, expecially as a remedy for liver or gall bladder dysfunction. Drink 1 cup of tea or 1 tbsp. of juice twice a day for 4-6 weeks.
Wine : Let 1 ½ oz. of dried root steep in white wine for about 10 days; then filter, drink 4 oz. a day.