The Healing Benefits of Dandelion
The common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a weed that has many medicinal benefits; it has been used in traditional medicine by native American Indians, Chinese medicine and in ancient European herbalism for centuries. However, you should consult a qualified herbalist and/or medicinal practitioner before using dandelion to treat any health problems.
Botanical Profile of Dandelion
The common dandelion belongs to the Asteraceae (daisy) plant family. Dandelions are native to the temperate areas of the northern hemisphere, particularly Europe and North America. They are a small perennial plant with a bright yellow flower head and shiny, green “toothed” leaves. The leaves act as a funnel for rainwater to reach the roots; the roots contain a white, milky substance that possess medicinal properties (source: University of Maryland Medical Center – Dandelion).
How Dandelions Disperse Their Seeds
Dandelions disperse their seeds after the flower head has dried out; the petals and the stamen drop off and the bracts curve backwards to reveal umbrella-shaped white, feathery pappus. The seeds are contained within the pappus and float away in the wind to re-disperse and form new dandelions.
The Parts of Dandelion That are Used Medicinally
The leaves, roots and flower head of the dandelion all contain medicinal properties; the different parts of the plant are made into tinctures, teas, capsules and liquid extracts for medicinal purposes. The leaves are diuretic whereas the roots are used to treat digestive disorders and act as an anti-viral. The flowers contain anti-oxidant properties.
Medicinal Uses of Dandelion
Dandelions contain vitamins A, C and D, in addition to potassium, zinc and iron. They also contain flavonoids, bitters and tannins. The common dandelion has a variety of medicinal uses including a treatment for:
- gall-bladder problems
- liver problems
- poor digestion
- high blood pressure
- appetite stimulant.
Cautions for Using Dandelion as a Medicinal Aid
Do not combine the use of dandelion as a medicinal aid with prescribed medicines without the advice of a medical practitioner; in particular, medications such as lithium, Zantac, Pecid and certain antibiotics may interact with the use of dandelion. In addition, if you have an allergy to plants such as ragweed, marigold, yarrow and chamomile, you may also have an allergic reaction to dandelion. There maybe a risk of skin irritation in some people.