We have been talking about green herbs for a few weeks now, and it occurred to me that one of the best herbs anywhere is one that you don’t even have to buy! All you have to do is go out to your lawn, garden, front doorstep in order to find it, and best of all it’s FREE!
The herb I’m talking about is actually considered a weed by most, but I’m not one of those people who think so. I happen to think that this herb is delicious, beneficial, beautiful, and, well, annoying if you have a lawn, but if you take it in the right perspective then you shouldn’t have a problem with it. Look on the bright side. Instead of thinking how it is taking over and blocking out your beautiful grass, think about how its flowers are so nice, its baby leaves are so delicious and make the most wonderful salads, and how its leaves are so good for your health too. OK, now either you know for sure what I’m talking about or you are really wondering what it is, so I’ll unveil the not-so-secret secret. DANDELION!!! (Yes, I’m talking about those pesky weeds that take over lawns and provide children with hours of entertainment blowing the flyaway spores off of the flower stalks after they dry up).
Scientifically dandelion is called Taraxacum officinale, and is found almost every place in the world growing wild. I’ve never heard of anyone cultivating it, but it’s possible that people do, since it is sold quite extensively dried for medicinal purposes. It is found in Kuwait around most homes and in the desert, but it is a desert version of the plant that is found here, which isn’t quite as succulent as the one found in more temperate locations, but is still good from a medicinal point of view.
Fresh baby dandelion leaves are nice in salads and if you don’t believe me, just ask anyone from many European countries. My father (he was born in Italy) is the one who turned me on to this delicious delicacy when I was a little kid, and I’ve been interested in dandelions ever since. I have always thought that a lawn covered in dandelions was the most beautiful sight, but I quickly learned that not everyone had the same penchant for dandelions, and most people went out of their way to get rid of dandelions, even resorting to poison! But, not me! I love the leaves, the beautiful yellow puffy flowers, the dried up puffballs, and even the milky centers of the stems that stain whatever they come into contact with. I just love dandelions.
The good news is that dandelions aren’t just another pretty weed. They are actually an extremely good medicinal herb that can be used for practically every ailment that you can think of. Different parts of the dandelion can be used as well, including the leaf and the root. You can use them fresh or dried, and either one is fine. So, if you absolutely can’t find any dandelions growing in your area, then you can use dried as a last resort.
Dandelion can be used for so many different problems that you will hardly know where to begin. You can use it when you have an upset stomach or any kind of digestive problem. If you are suffering from some kind of urinary tract problem or are feeling swollen or bloated, dandelion is a fantastic diuretic (and it’s loaded with potassium, which is what chemical diuretics deplete from your body). It is also good for people suffering from high blood pressure for the same reason. Dandelion also has a good helping of Vitamin C, and also B, A, and D, along with calcium and iron as well. It is great for helping liver problems, particularly liver congestion (and is even good in cases of cirrhosis of the liver), and is even said to get rid of gallstones and kidney stones too. It is also good for helping with any kind of toxic buildup in the body, so people with allergies and food sensitivities would do well to hook themselves up with some dandelion. It is well known as a blood cleanser and is great for any kind of detoxification program that you might be interested in. It is a blood builder as well, so if you or someone you know has anemia, tell them right away, and maybe your problem will disappear. I have heard that the milky substance inside the stem is also great getting rid of things like warts, but I haven’t tried that one myself yet. Dandelion is great for helping to reduce cholesterol buildup in the blood, and is an overall super-tonic for practically everything that ails you.
There are people who swear by dandelion for rheumatism and arthritis pain, drinking a light tea of dandelion leaf for help. For this purpose it can be taken either internally or externally, depending on what your problem is. Lots of medicinal herbalists say that dandelion helps to increase fat metabolism, therefore it is good for losing weight, and along with that is its effects on diabetes. Many claim that it even helps with cancer! I haven’t seen it working myself, but people swear by it!
All in all, for such a common place herb you would hardly even realize how great it is. But great it IS! So, the next time you see a dandelion, you can look at it in a new light.