Herbal Profile: The Often Maligned Dandelion

The Herbal Profile is a new feature to my blog posts.  Once a month I will feature an herb, and what better way to start then with the first herb to pop up in early Spring.  Notice I call it an herb, though many refer to it as a weed. It is the bane to the suburban dweller who considers a pristine green lawn sprayed with pesticides a thing to be admired.  But this wasn't always so. 

According to some sources, it wasn't until the 1800s that dandelions were removed from lawns. Recordings dating back to Roman times as well as Egyptian, Greek and Chinese show the reverence for this beautiful flower. In fact people migrating to different countries brought the seeds with them because of their medicinal benefits.  Every part of the plant is useful.  As mentioned it can be used for medicine, food and even dye.  Dandelions are more nutritious than most of the vegetables in your garden. Try them in a salad or stir fry.  Herbalists use the dandelion is aiding digestion due to its bitter principles. It is said the root can improve bile flow which would help alleviate liver congestion, bile duct inflammation, hepatitis, gallstones and jaundice.  Dandelion leaves create diuretic activity which can cause considerable weight loss.  In skin care dandelions provide a rich source of vitamins A, B, C, D and trace elements.  The root is is beneficial in promoting clear skin.

What is a bit ironic is that dandelions are good for your lawn. Their wide-spreading roots loosen hard-packed soil, aerate the earth and help reduce erosion. The deep taproot pulls nutrients such as calcium from deep in the soil and makes them available to other plants. Dandelions actually fertilize the grass. So there is no need to be spreading harmful chemicals all over your lawn.  So give them a try.  And even if you don't like the taste or plan to use them in healing, just admire these tenacious pretty yellow flowers. Bees love them too!  Would love to hear your comments, recipes and thoughts about the dandelion.

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