Plant of the Month: The Dandelion
Taraxacum officinale

The dandelion is a striking herb. I donít know when it happened, but someone, somewhere decided that dandelions were noxious weeds and people were convinced that they had to poison the earth and spend money and time ridding their lawns of the beasts! But arenít those yellow, sunny flowers a sure sign of spring? Donít they brighten up the alley, or the playground or a green lawn? How many of us as children offered our beloved mother a bouquet of dandelion blossoms? Whenever I drive along the highway and witness those stunning yellow hillsides and fields I wonder how they ever picked up such a bad reputation.

The dandelion has so much to offer. Itís a wonderful spring tonic helping to restore health to our many intertwined systems. Our Natives were probably delighted to feast on the small green, vitamin-rich leaves as their food rations ran low and they craved something green in their diet. The leaves are a wonderful source of beta carotene, B vitamins, vitamin C, potassium, iron, calcium and protein. Their bitter properties support our digestive systems. Italians have long enjoyed dandelion leaf salad, with a garlic and olive oil vinaigrette, for this benefit. If youíre not interested in throwing them in a salad, fill a mason jar with the leaves (and roots too) and cover with apple-cider vinegar or wine vinegar. Let it sit for at least six weeks and then liberally enjoy your mineral-rich vinegar, splashed on salads or mixed with equal parts honey (1 tbsp.) in water (2 cups).

If youíre digging dandelions make sure to save the mineral-rich roots, which are often used to re-energize, especially after a long winter. Give them a good dry-brushing, slice them and dry them, or tincture them in vodka or vinegar. A dose of root tincture is anywhere from 10 Ė 100 drops per day. (Start with a few and see how you feel before increasing the quantity!) If you prefer sipping an infusion, try a cup or two per day. Dandelion root has a long history of supporting your liverís health, but it also nourishes your nervous system, lymphatic system and many of your organs.

Dandelion blossoms infused in olive oil make a relaxing massage oil for stiff or tight muscles, arthritic joints, or cramps. The blossoms can also decrease mental tension. On your walk home this spring, especially after a hectic day, pick the brightest and most beautiful dandelion along your path. (If they are growing abundantly itís a good sign that the area is herbicide-free!) Pour yourself a nice glass of wine and pop your dandelion into the wine. Let it sit while you go take a shower! Relax and sip your dandelion wine. Breathe the yellow fumes in deeply! Enjoy!

Ah, the humble dandelion. As long as their growing season doesnít end too early, we hope to enjoy dandelion fritters and a batch of dandelion blossom wine. The next time a dandelion graces your backyard, be thankful that this free food, that nourishes us so wholly, has survived! When the season ends, and the blossoms turn into a ball of fluff, make a wish, take a deep breath, and blow!

Over the years I have been blessed with many Wise Woman teachers. I thank them for sharing their wisdom through their lectures, workshops, websites and books. For more information about dandelion and many other herbs, enjoy these insightful and informative resources.

Family Herbal by Rosemary Gladstar
Healing Wise by Susun Weed
Opening our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs by Gail Faith Edwards

(Storey Books, 2001) Click for website
(Ash Tree Publishing, 1989) Click for website
(Ash Tree Publishing, 2000) Click for website
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