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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Tea Time

Let me start off by saying I am a coffee lover.  It is part of my morning ritual.  The aroma fills the house and gets me going.  I love that first sip.  BUT as fall approaches I think about cocooning in the evening with a cup of hot tea.  Through the dark winter months there is nothing more soothing, warming and nourishing to my soul than a cup of herbal tea. Of course herbal teas are so much more than that.  I will discuss different herbs and there healing properties in future posts.  Last fall I started experimenting with different blends.  My husband who has never been a tea drinker accepted a cup one evening of my Night Repose blend that I created using Chamomile, California Poppy, Oatstraw, Skullcap and with a touch of Rooibos.  He told me the next morning it was the best nights sleep he had in a long time.

We also love to drink a chai spice with astragalus, cocoa and turmeric.  Not only is it delicious, it is a great for your immune system. So I am now making my Night Repose tea blend and Chai Spice available at my studio.  I will be adding other tea blends in the very near future and don't forget my elderberry syrup kit to fight cold and flu.

 

So make yourself a nice cup of tea, sit back and relax!

An Ounce of Prevention

Flu and cold season is just around the corner.  If you are like me, you prefer to find a natural way to prevent yourself from getting sick, or if you do lessen the severity of the illness.  Which is exactly what my husband and I have done for the past few years.  Each year in the late summer/early fall I make a batch of Elderberry Syrup and take some each day.  I have not gotten sick (knock on wood) and my husband felt like he was coming down with a cold last year and increased his dosages.  He felt better within 2 days.

“Recent research from Israel and Panama has demonstrated that elderberry juice (Sambucus nigra) not only stimulates the immune system, but also directly inhibits the influenza virus (Zakay-Rones et al 1995; Mumcuoglu 1995)."  Paul Bergner, Herbalist.

If you would like to try and make your own syrup this is my favorite recipe

ELDERBERRY SYRUP

Ingredients:   2/3 cup dried elderberries,  1 cinnamon stick,  1 tsp -1 tbs ginger root,  1 cup raw local honey (you can add more or less depending on your taste)

Place all the ingredients in a pot, except honey, add 3 cups water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30-45minutes.  Smash the berries and strain.  Add1 cup Raw honey and brandy.  Refrigerate.  Will last 2-3 months.

Take 1 tbs daily to ward off illness or a tbs every 2-3 hours if you are sick.  For children use half the dose.

Optional Ingredients:

Brandy, Astragalus, Echinacea, Orange Peel, Cloves

Note: Please use only raw honey and add the honey after cooking...heat will destroy the important enzymes in the honey.  I would also recommend not replacing the honey with any other sweetener as honey has it's own healing properties.

                                                                                          Elderberry syrup simmering

                                                                                          Elderberry syrup simmering

Do you have a favorite recipe for Elderberry Syrup or any other cold and flu prevention ideas.  Please share and here's to a healthy season.