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  Dandelions for Foods, Drinks, Health and Beauty  

NEW! Pharmacopeia of Flowers: Foods, Drinks, Health & Beauty

Dandelion Flowers

Dandelion |ˈdandlˌīən| noun
a widely distributed weed of the daisy family, with a rosette of leaves, bright yellow flowers followed by globular heads of seeds with downy tufts, and stems containing a milky latex.
• Genus Taraxacum, family Compositae: several species, in particular the common T. officinale, which has edible leaves.

Kids blowing Dandelion flower seeds
ORIGIN
late Middle English : from French dent-de-lion, translation of medieval Latin dens leonis ‘lion's tooth’ (because of the jagged shape of the leaves).

Dandelions are also known as "ruderals." That means they are among the first plants to shoot up after the ground has been disturbed. Of course, that’s up north.

IDENTIFICATION: In the aster family, leaves are up to a foot long, always growing rosette at the base. Deeply indented leaves, like large saw teeth, the familiar flower is made of hundreds of little rays and turns into the well -known power puff. There are no poisonous look alikes, but some similar ones can be bitter and not tasty.

TIME OF YEAR: February and March in Florida, later in the spring and summer in northern climes

ENVIRONMENT: Lawns, meadows, fields, disturbed areas.

Time lapse video of Dandelion flower to seed head

Dandelion Flowers Technical Illustration

Taraxacum (pron.: /təˈræksəkʉm/) is a large genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. They are native to Eurasia and North and South America, and two species, T. officinale and T. erythrospermum, are found as weeds worldwide. Both species are edible in their entirety. The common name dandelion (/ˈdændɨlaɪ.ən/ dan-di-ly-ən, from French dent-de-lion, meaning "lion's tooth") is given to members of the genus, and like other members of the Asteraceae family, they have very small flowers collected together into a composite flower head. Each single flower in a head is called a floret. Many Taraxacum species produce seeds asexually by apomixis, where the seeds are produced without pollination, resulting in offspring that are genetically identical to the parent plant.

Basic Plant Anatomy - The Dandelion
The leaves are 5–25 cm long or longer, simple and basal, entire or lobed, forming a rosette above the central taproot. The flower heads are yellow to orange coloured, and are open in the daytime but closed at night. The heads are borne singly on a hollow stem (scape) that rises 1–10 cm or more above the leaves and exudes a milky latex when broken. A rosette may produce several flowering stems at a time. The flower heads are 2–5 cm in diameter and consist entirely of ray florets. The flower heads mature into spherical seed heads called "blowballs" or "clocks" (in both British and American English) containing many single-seeded fruits called achenes. Each achene is attached to a pappus of fine hairs, which enable wind-aided dispersal over long distances.

The flower head is surrounded by bracts (sometimes mistakenly called sepals) in two series. The inner bracts are erect until the seeds mature, then flex downward to allow the seeds to disperse; the outer bracts are always reflexed downward. Some species drop the "parachute" from the achenes; the hair-like parachutes are called pappus, and they are modified sepals. Between the pappus and the achene, there is a stalk called a beak, which elongates as the fruit matures. The beak breaks off from the achene quite easily, separating the seed from the parachute.

Cultivars

  • 'Amélioré à Coeur Plein' - Yields an abundant crop without taking up much ground, and tends to blanch itself naturally, due to its clumping growth habit.
  • 'Broad Leaved' - The leaves are thick and tender and easily blanched. In rich soils they can be up to 60 cm wide. Plants do not go to seed as quickly as French types.
  • 'Vert de Montmagny'- Long dark green leaves, some find them mild enough to be palatable without blanching. Vigorous and productive.

Dandelion TaprootsFalse Dandelions

Many similar plants in the Asteraceae family with yellow flowers are sometimes known as "false dandelions". Dandelions are very similar to catsears (Hypochaeris). Both plants carry similar flowers, which form into windborne seeds. However, dandelion flowers are borne singly on unbranched, hairless and leafless, hollow stems, while catsear flowering stems are branched, solid and carry bracts. Both plants have a basal rosette of leaves and a central taproot. However, the leaves of dandelions are smooth or glabrous, whereas those of catsears are coarsely hairy.

Other plants with superficially similar flowers include hawkweeds (Hieracium) and hawksbeards (Crepis). These are readily distinguished by branched flowering stems, which are usually hairy and bear leaves.

Beneficial Weed

The dandelion plant is a beneficial weed, with a wide range of uses, and is even a good companion plant for gardening. Its taproot will bring up nutrients for shallower-rooting plants, and add minerals and nitrogen to soil. It is also known to attract pollinating insects and release ethylene gas which helps fruit to ripen. Taraxacum seeds are an important food source for certain birds.

Noxious Weed

The species Taraxacum officinale is listed as a noxious weed in some jurisdictions, and is considered to be a nuisance in residential and recreational lawns in North America. It is also an important weed in agriculture and causes significant economic damage because of its infestation in many crops worldwide.

 

Dandelion Flower Foods

Dandelions are found on all continents and have been gathered since prehistory, but the varieties cultivated for consumption are mainly native to Eurasia. A perennial plant, its leaves will grow back if the taproot is left intact. To make leaves more palatable, they are often blanched to remove bitterness. Dandelion leaves and buds have been a part of traditional Sephardic, Chinese, and Korean cuisine. In Crete, Greece, the leaves of a variety called Mari (Μαρί), Mariaki (Μαριάκι) or Koproradiko (Κοπροράδικο) are eaten by locals, either raw or boiled, in salads. Taraxacum megalorhizon, a species endemic to Crete, is eaten in the same way; it is found only at high altitudes (1000 to 1600 m.) and in fallow sites, and is called pentaramia (πενταράμια) or agrioradiko (αγριοράδικο).

Dandelion Restaurant Menu
The flower petals, along with other ingredients, are used to make dandelion wine. The ground, roasted roots can be used as a caffeine-free dandelion coffee. Dandelion was also traditionally used to make the traditional British soft drink dandelion and burdock, and is one of the ingredients of root beer. Also, Dandelions were once delicacies eaten by the Victorian gentry mostly in salads and sandwiches.

Dandelion leaves contain abundant vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, C and K, and are good sources of calcium, potassium, iron and manganese.

Perhaps no wild flower is better known as an edible, or played with, than the Dandelion. Who hasn’t sent the flower’s powder puff of seeds off into the wind with a strategic breath of air? It’s a rite of human passage. The first batch of wine we made as kids, after two successful five-gallon crocks of beer with cooking malt and bread yeast, was dandelion wine. The yellow parts of the blossom are sweet, if not honey-flavored. It makes a fine homemade wine and the blossom added to salads (or pancakes) is a cheery compliment. However, trim off all green parts unless you happen to like bitter. And with all wild plants, be careful where you harvest to avoid pollution. In the language of flowers dandelion is an oracle.

METHOD OF PREPARATION: Bitter young greens in salads, slightly older leaves as a potherb, root boiled or roasted, blossoms — yellow parts only — as a flavoring for wine. Flowers dipped in batter fried (no green parts.) When you cook the leaves drop them into boiling water. They will taste better than if you warm them up in cold water. Best salad use is with cooked, cooled greens. Incidentally, the root can be roasted or boiled like a vegetable and eaten that way. It is bitter but edible. Dandelion roots were eaten by man as long as 25,000 years ago.

 

Dandelion SeedsFood for Bees, Butterflies & Insects

Dandelions are important plants for northern hemisphere bees, providing an important source of nectar and pollen early in the season. Dandelions are used as food plants by the larvae of some species of Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths). See List of Lepidoptera that feed on dandelions. They are also used as a source of nectar by the pearl-bordered fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne), one of the earliest emerging butterflies in the spring.

 

Dandelion Burgers

  • 1 cup packed dandelion petals (no greens)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp each basil and oregano
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

Mix all ingredients together. The batter will be goopy. Form into patties and pan fry in oil or butter, turning until crisp on both sides. Makes 4-5 very nutritious vegetable burgers. No, they don’t taste like hamburger, but they ain’t bad.

 

Dandelion Blossom Bread

Breaded and Battered Dandelion Flowers
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dandelion blossoms,
    all green sepals and leaves removed
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 4 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 cups milk

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl, including petals making sure to separate clumps of petals. In separate bowl mix together milk, honey, oil beaten egg. Add liquid to dry mix. Batter should be fairly wet and lumpy. Pour into buttered bread tin or muffin tin. Bake 400F. For muffins 20-25 min, bread for bread up to twice as long. Test for doneness.

 

Cream of Dandelion Soup

  • 4 cups chopped dandelion leaves
  • 2 cups dandelion flower petals
  • 2 cups dandelion buds
  • 1 Tbsp butter or olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped wild leeks
    (or onions)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups half-n-half
    or heavy cream
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  1. Gently boil dandelion leaves in 6 cups water.
    Pour off bitter water.
    Boil gently a second time, pour off bitter water.
  2. In a heavy-bottom soup pot, sauté wild leeks
    and garlic in butter or olive oil until tender.
  3. Add 4 cups water.
  4. Add dandelion leaves, flower petals, buds, and salt.
  5. Simmer gently 45 minutes or so.
  6. Add cream and simmer a few minutes more.
  7. Garnish with flower petals.
Cream of Dandelion Soup Cooking Dandelion Greens Raw Dandelion Salads

Dandelion Pasta Salads

Dandelion Salads
  • 3 cups cooked pasta
  • 1-½ cups diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup dandelion greens, pre-cooked
  • 2 wild leeks, minced, greens and all
    or 2 Tbsp minced onions
  • 8 olives, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt

 

Dandelion Blossom Marmalade SyrupDandelion Blossom Syrup

This is a traditional recipe passed down from the old world Europeans.
Use it as a substitute for honey in any recipe that I’m trying to make wild.

  • 1 quart dandelion flowers
  • 1 quart (4 cups) water
  • 4 cups sugar
  • ½ lemon or orange (organic) chopped, peel and all

Note: The citrus is optional, it will give the syrup an orangey or lemony flavor.
If you want the pure dandelion flavor, you can skip the citrus.

 

  1. Put blossoms and water in a pot.
  2. Bring just to a boil, turn off heat, cover, and let sit overnight.
  3. The next day, strain and press liquid out of spent flowers.
  4. Add sugar and sliced citrus and heat slowly, stirring now and again,
    for several hours or until reduced to a thick, honey-like syrup.
  5. Can in half-pint or 1 pint jars.

This recipe makes a little more than 1 pint. You can triple or quadruple this, and make more than one batch when the blossoms are in season to have enough for the year. The syrup makes great Christmas presents, so make plenty!

 

Dandelion Cakes and BreadsDandelion Blossom Cake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1-½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup Dandelion Blossom Syrup
  • 1-½ cups oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups Dandelion blossom petals
  • 1 can crushed pineapple
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup coconut

  1. Sift together dry ingredients.
  2. In separate bowl, beat sugar, dandelion syrup, oil and eggs together until creamy.
  3. Add pineapple, walnuts, and coconut, and mix well.
  4. Stir dry ingredients into the mixture until well blended.
  5. Pour batter into a greased, 9×13 cake pan and bake at 350° for about 40 minutes.

Dandelion Blossom Cake Frosting

  • 1x 8-oz package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 or 2 Tbsp milk

 

Dandelion Blossom Pancakes

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup oil
  • ½ cup Dandelion Blossom syrup or honey
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup Dandelion blossom petals

  1. Mix dry ingredients first.
  2. Add wet ingredients and mix together thoroughly (Note: the secret of keeping pancake batter from getting lumpy is to be sure to add all the wet ingredients before mixing.)
  3. Adjust consistency by adding a little more milk or a little more flour if it’s too thick or thin. Pancake batter should be thin enough to pour, but not runny.
  4. Cook on oiled grill.
  5. Top with butter and Dandelion Blossom syrup.

 

Dandelion Cornbread

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup Dandelion Blossom syrup (or honey)
  • ¼ cup oil or butter
  • 1 cup milk (buttermilk is best!)
  • 1 cup Dandelion blossom petals

  1. Mix dry ingredients together.
  2. Add all the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.
  3. Pour batter into a 9×9 pan, or 10-inch cast iron frying pan.
  4. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes.
  5. Serve hot with butter and Dandelion Blossom syrup.

 

Dandelion Mustard

Homemade mustard is incredibly easy to make and endless in variations and possibilities. Making them "wild" involves preparing an herbal vinegar ahead of time, and in the case of Dandelion Mustard, I also use Dandelion Blossom Syrup and fresh greens.

  • 1 cup yellow mustard seeds (whole)
  • 1-1/4 cups Dandelion vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Dandelion Blossom syrup
  • 1 cup pureed fresh Dandelion greens
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt

  1. Soak the mustard seeds in the Dandelion vinegar for several hours or overnight.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Let it all sit together in a covered container for several days to mellow.
  4. Put in small jars (1/4 pints work nicely).

Note: Mustard keeps well in the fridge for many months or you can can it in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes to seal.

 

Dandelion Vinaigrette

This recipe involves having some pre-made Dandelion products but it is delicious beyond belief and is guaranteed to convict any skeptic about the culinary virtues of Dandelion.

  • 1-1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup Dandelion vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp Dandelion Mustard (or Dijon)
  • 3 Tbsp Dandelion Blossom syrup
  • 2 cups fresh, chopped Dandelion greens

Whiz everything together in a blender or food processor.

Making Dandelion Wine

Dandelion Flower Drinks & Beverages

Dandelion SodaDandelion Wine

  • 3 quarts dandelion flowers
  • 1 lb golden raisins
  • 1 gallon water
  • 3 lbs granulated sugar
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 orange
  • yeast and nutrients

Pick fresh flowers, trim of stalk, if extra careful trim off all green. Put flowers in a large bowl. Set aside one pint of water, bring the rest of a gallon to a boil. Pour the boiling water over the dandelion flowers and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Dandelion and Burdock BeerLeave for two days, stirring twice daily. Pour flowers and water in large pot and bring to a low boil. Add sugar and the peeling of the citrus (peel thinly and avoid any white pith.). Low boil for one hour, pour into fermenter. Add the juice and pulp of the citrus. Allow to cool. Add yeast and yeast nutrient, cover, and put in a warm place for three days. Strain and pour into secondary fermenter. Add raisins and fit fermentation lock. Strain and rack after wine clears, adding water to top up. Leave until fermentation stops completely, rack again. Two months later rack and bottle. Age six months to a year.

 

Dandelion and Burdock Beer

  • 1 lb Young Nettles
  • 4 oz. Dandelion leaves
  • 4 oz. Burdock root, fresh, sliced

OR

  • 2 oz. Dried burdock root, sliced
  • 1/2 oz. Ginger root, bruised
  • 2 each Lemons
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 lb + 4 t. soft brown sugar
  • 1 oz. Cream of tartar
  • Brewing yeast (see label for amount)

 

Dandelion and burdock beer preparation:

  1. Put the nettles, dandelion leaves, burdock, ginger and thinly pared rinds of the lemons into a large pan. Add the water.
  2. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 mins.
  3. Put the lemon juice from the lemons, 1 lb. sugar and cream of tartar into a large container and pour in the liquid thru a strainer, pressing down well on the nettles and other ingredients.
  4. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
  5. Cool to room temperature.
  6. Sprinkle in the yeast.
  7. Cover the beer and leave it to ferment in a warm place for 3 days.
  8. Pour off the beer and bottle it, adding t. sugar per pint.
  9. Leave the bottles undisturbed until the beer is clear-about 1 week.

 

Dandelion and Burdock Soda Pop Soft DrinkDandelion Soft Drink

This recipe will make a strong syrup which will then need to be watered down with soda 1:4. Heat 1.5 litres of water in a pan, when boiling add:

  • 2 teaspoons fine ground dandelion root
    (Might need a mortar & pestle)
  • 1.5 teaspoons fine ground burdock root
    (Might need a mortar & pestle)
  • 5x 50p sized slices of root ginger
  • 1-1/2 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon of citric acid
  • Zest of an orange

Leave that little lot to simmer for 15-20 minutes, it will smell a lot like a health food shop, then strain through a tea towel, muslin isn’t really fine enough. Whilst the liquid is still hot you need to dissolve about 750g sugar. If you prefer is sweeter or ‘not-sweeter’ adjust the sugar. If you’re finding the drink a bit flavourless simply add more sugar, it accentuates the flavours of the roots and anise.

In the summer mix it with plenty of ice and stir through borage flowers for the ultimate English soft drink! Enjoy.

Dandelion Lemonade Dandelion Tea Dandelion Cocktail Drinks

 

Dandelion Flower Health Benefits

Historically, dandelion was prized for a variety of medicinal properties, and it contains a wide number of pharmacologically active compounds. Dandelion is used as a herbal remedy in Europe, North America and China. It has been used in herbal medicine to treat infections, bile and liver problems, and as a diuretic.

Schutz, K.; Carle, R.; Schieber, A. (2006). "Taraxacum: A review on its phytochemical and pharmacological profile".
Journal of Ethnopharmacology 107 (3): 313–323. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2006.07.021. PMID 16950583.

Dandelion SeedheadSuppose your doctor tells you, on your next visit, that he has just discovered a miracle drug which, when eaten as a part of your daily diet or taken as a beverage, could, depending on the peculiarities of your body chemistry: prevent or cure liver diseases, such as hepatitis or jaundice; act as a tonic and gentle diuretic to purify your blood, cleanse your system, dissolve kidney stones, and otherwise improve gastro-intestinal health; assist in weight reduction; cleanse your skin and eliminate acne; improve your bowel function, working equally well to relieve both constipation and diarrhea; prevent or lower high blood pressure; prevent or cure anemia; lower your serum cholesterol by as much as half; eliminate or drastically reduce acid indigestion and gas buildup by cutting the heaviness of fatty foods; prevent or cure various forms of cancer; prevent or control diabetes mellitus; and, at the same time, have no negative side effects and selectively act on only what ails you. If he gave you a prescription for this miracle medicine, would you use it religiously at first to solve whatever the problem is and then consistently for preventative body maintenance?

All the above curative functions, and more, have been attributed to one plant known to everyone, Taraxacum officinale, which means the "Official Remedy for Disorders." We call it the common dandelion. It is so well respected, in fact, that it appears in the U.S. National Formulatory, and in the Pharmacopeias of Hungary, Poland, Switzerland, and the Soviet Union. It is one of the top 6 herbs in the Chinese herbal medicine chest.

According to the USDA Bulletin #8, "Composition of Foods" (Haytowitz and Matthews 1984), dandelions rank in the top 4 green vegetables in overall nutritional value. Minnich, in "Gardening for Better Nutrition" ranks them, out of all vegetables, including grains, seeds and greens, as tied for 9th best. According to these data, dandelions are nature's richest green vegetable source of beta-carotene, from which Vitamin A is created, and the third richest source of Vitamin A of all foods, after cod-liver oil and beef liver! They also are particularly rich in fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and the B vitamins, thiamine and riboflavin, and are a good source of protein.

These figures represent only those published by the USDA. Studies in Russia and Eastern Europe by Gerasimova, Racz, Vogel, and Marei (Hobbs 1985) indicate that dandelion is also rich in micronutrients such as copper, cobalt, zinc, boron, and molybdenum, as well as Vitamin D.

Much of what dandelions purportedly do in promoting good health could result from nutritional richness alone. Vogel considers the sodium in dandelions important in reducing inflammations of the liver. Gerasimova, the Russian chemist who analyzed the dandelion for, among other things, trace minerals, stated that "dandelion [is] an example of a harmonious combination of trace elements, vitamins and other biologically active substances in ratios optimal for a human organism" (Hobbs 1985).

Recent research, reported in the Natural Healing and Nutritional Annual, 1989 (Bricklin and Ferguson 1989) on the value of vitamins and minerals indicates that:

  • Vitamin A is important in fighting cancers of epithelial tissue, including mouth and lung;
  • Potassium rich foods, in adequate quantities, and particularly in balance with magnesium, helps keep blood pressure down and reduces risks of strokes;
  • Fiber fights diabetes, lowers cholesterol, reduces cancer and heart disease

risks, and assists in weight loss. High fiber vegetables take up lots of room, are low in calories, and slow down digestion so the food stays in the stomach longer and you feel full longer;

  • Calcium in high concentrations can build strong bones and can lower blood pressure;
  • B vitamins help reduce stress.

Throughout history, dandelions have had a reputation as being effective in promoting weight loss and laboratory research indicates that there is some support for this reputation. Controlled tests on laboratory mice and rats by the same Romanians indicated that a loss of up to 30% of body weight in 30 days was possible when the animals were fed dandelion extract with their food. Those on grass extract lost much less. The control group on plain water actually gained weight.

Beyond nutritional richness, however, are the active chemical constituents contained in dandelions which may have specific therapeutic effects on the body. These include, as reported by Hobbs (1985):

  • Inulin, which converts to fructose in the presence of cold or hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Fructose forms glycogen in the liver without requiring insulin, resulting in a slower blood sugar rise, which makes it good for diabetics and hypoglycemics;
  • Tof-CFr, a glucose polymer similar to lentinan, which Japanese researchers have found to act against cancer cells in laboratory mice; Lentinan is a yeast glucan (glucose polymer) that increases resistance against protozoal and viral infections.;
  • Dandelion PlantPectin, which is anti-diarrheal and also forms ionic complexes with metal ions, which probably contributes to dandelion's reputation as a blood and gastrointestinal detoxifying herb. Pectin is prescribed regularly in Russia to remove heavy metals and radioactive elements from body tissues. Pectin can also lower cholesterol and, combined with Vitamin C, can lower it even more. Dandelion is a good source of both Pectin and Vitamin C;
  • Coumestrol, an estrogen mimic which possibly is responsible, at least in part, for stimulating milk flow and altering hormones;
  • Apigenin and Luteolin, two flavonoid glycosides which have been demonstrated to have diuretic, anti-spasmodic, anti-oxidant and liver protecting actions and properties, and also to strengthen the heart and blood vessels. They also have anti-bacterial and anti-hypoglycemic properties, and, as estrogen mimics, may also stimulate milk production and alter hormones;
  • Gallic Acid, which is anti-diarrheal and anti-bacterial;
  • Linoleic and Linolenic Acid, which are essential fatty acids required by the body to produce prostaglandin which regulate blood pressure and such body processes as immune responses which suppress inflammation. These fatty acids can lower chronic inflammation, such as proliferative arthritis, regulate blood pressure and the menstrual cycle, and prevent platelet aggregation;
  • Choline, which has been shown to help improve memory;
  • Several Sesquiterpene compounds which are what make dandelions bitter. These may partly account for dandelions tonic effects on digestion, liver, spleen and gall bladder, and are highly anti-fungal;
  • Several Triterpenes, which may contribute to bile or liver stimulation;
  • Taraxasterol, which may contribute to liver and gall bladder health or to hormone altering.

These chemicals, individually, are not unique to dandelions, but the combination of them all in one plant, along with high levels of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins and fiber account for the many claims made regarding the plant.

These claims include the following results of clinical and laboratory research, again as reported in Hobbs (1985):

  • A doubling of bile output with leaf extracts, and a quadrupling of bile output with root extract. Bile assists with the emulsification, digestion and absorption of fats, in alkalinizing the intestines and in the prevention of putrefaction. This could explain the effectiveness of dandelion in reducing the effects of fatty foods (heartburn and acid indigestion);
  • A reduction in serum cholesterol and urine bilirubin levels by as much as half in humans with severe liver imbalances has been demonstrated by Italian researchers;
  • Diuretic effects with a strength approaching that of the potent diuretics Furosemide and Lasix, used for congestive heart failure and cirrhosis of the liver, with none of the serious side effects, were found by Romanian scientists. They found that water extract of dandelion leaves, administered orally, because of its high potassium content, replaced serum potassium electrolytes lost in the urine, eliminating such side effects common with the synthetics as severe potassium depletion, hepatic coma in liver patients, circulatory collapse, and transmission through mothers' milk;
  • In 1979 a Japanese patent was filed for a freeze-dried warm water extract of dandelion root for anti-tumor use. It was found that administration of the extract markedly inhibited growth of particular carcinoma cells within one week after treatment;
  • Dental researchers at Indiana University in 1982 used dandelion extracts in antiplaque preparations;
  • In studies from 1941 to 1952, the French scientist Henri Leclerc demonstrated the effectiveness of dandelion on chronic liver problems related to bile stones. He found that roots gathered in late summer to fall, when they are rich in bitter, white milky latex, should be used for all liver treatments;
  • In 1956, Chauvin demonstrated the antibacterial effects of dandelion pollen, which may validate the centuries old use of dandelion flowers in Korean folk medicine to prevent furuncles (boils, skin infections), tuberculosis, and edema and promote blood circulation.

Also, Witt (1983) recommends dandelion tea to alleviate the water buildup in PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome).

There are many testimonials from those who have benefited from the use of dandelions in the treatment of what ailed them.

Robert Stickle, an internationally famous architect, was diagnosed as having a malignant melanoma 21 years ago, and was given, after radical surgery had not halted its spread, less than 2 years to live. He said, in a letter to Jeff Zullo, president of the Society for the Promotion of Dandelions, (June 23, 1986):

"I went on a search for the answer to my mortal problem, and [discovered] that perhaps it was a nutritional dilemma.... To me, cancer is primarily a liver failure manifestation. {Italians are very concerned about problems of the 'fegato']. [I discovered that] the cancer rate in native Italians is very low among the farming population (paesanos). When they get affluent and move to the city, its the same as the rest of civilized man. Paesanos eat dandelions, make brew from the roots, and are healthy, often living to over 100 years."

He states that he began eating dandelion salad every day, and his improvement confounded the doctors. When he wrote the letter in 1986, 18 years had passed and there had been no recurrence of the melanoma.

Dandelion in Asphalt Drink Ad
A benefit which comes from writing articles for national media is that you hear from people who have interesting stories to tell. I recently received a call from Peter Gruchawka, a 70 year old gentleman from Manorville, NY, who reported that he had been diagnosed with diabetes melitis 3 months before and was put on 5 grams of Micronase. At the time, he had a 5+ sugar spillover in his urine. He took Micronase for about a month before he learned, from his wife who is a nurse, that Micronase can do damage to the liver.

He had read in "Herbal Medicine" by Diane Buchanan and "Back to Eden" by Jethro Kloss about the effectiveness of dandelions in controlling diabetes. Without saying anything to his doctors, he stopped taking Micronase and began drinking dandelion coffee each day.

During the first week, his urinary sugar, measured night and morning, was erratic and unstable, but after a week, his sugar stabilized and when he called, he had been getting negative urine sugar readings for over a month. The doctors are amazed and can't explain it. An interesting side benefit to replacing Micronase with dandelion coffee is that, while Micronase damages the liver as a side effect, dandelions are particularly known for strengthening the liver.

According to Mr. Gruchawka, he changed nothing but the medication. He had cut out pastries and other sugars when he was diagnosed and started on Micronase, and has continued to do without those things while taking dandelion coffee.

In reporting these claims, however, I must add three qualifiers:

  1. First, unfortunately, neither herbs nor synthetic remedies work for everyone in the same way. Different bodies respond differently to medicines, and what works incredibly well for one person may not work at all, or work less well, for someone else.
  2. Second, good health results from a combination of healthy diet and enough exercise to keep the body toned. Bob Stickle, for all his insistence that dandelions cured him, changed, according to a mutual friend, his entire lifestyle. He didn't just add dandelion salad to what he was already doing.
  3. People with health problems need to seek the advice and care of a competent physician, with whom this information can be shared. It is important to reemphasize that it is presented as information only. I am not a medical doctor, and neither advocate nor prescribe dandelions or dandelion products for use by anyone or for any ailment. Only your doctor can do that.

Because there are so many variables, it is hard to attribute Mr. Stickle's cure to any one of them directly. Likewise, Italian farmers live a lifestyle which combines a healthy diet, lots of work and clean air. They heat and cook with wood, which they have to cut and split. They haul water for household use. When they move to the city, diet, exercise, and environmental conditions change. Stress and sedentary habits increase.

Dandelion GreensAnd there is the importance of faith in the healing process, whether it be faith in God or faith in the curative properties of the herb being taken.

While dandelions, given all these variables, may never be proved to cure any specific ill, they are an extremely healthy green which cannot in any way hurt you. Research on how much you would have to eat to cause harm indicates that eating grass is more dangerous than eating dandelions (Hobbs 1985). Therefore, with everything going for dandelions, it is highly probable that everyone can derive at least some nutritional benefit from them by eating or drinking them regularly.

The medical and pharmacological establishment is generally critical of claims regarding the use of herbs on disease, and their concerns need to be put in perspective.

Herbal medicines have been used very effectively far longer than synthetics, and many current pharmaceutical products have been derived from research on plants used as medicine by many cultures. The problem with plants, however, is that they are available to anyone. It is impossible to patent a plant, and thereby gain proprietary rights to it. As a consequence, pharmaceutical companies attempt to isolate the active properties from medicinal plants and synthesize them so that they can patent them. Many of the synthetics have serious side-effects which were not present in the natural plant product, often because other chemicals in the plant offset them (i.e. the large quantities of potassium in dandelions which allows for potassium replenishment when dandelion is used as a diuretic).

USDA botanist Dr. James Duke (1989) suggests that a proper and appropriate "herbal soup", filled with "vitamins, minerals, fibers and a whole host of bioactive compounds," from which the body can selectively strain the compounds it needs to restore itself to health, will be more effective than synthetic medicines containing a "very select and specialized compound or two plus filler, usually non-nutritive." This is especially true if the "herbal soup", in the form of a potent potherb like dandelion, is a regular part of the diet so that the appropriate bioactive substances are present in the right amounts when the body needs them.

Note: The book that this was taken from "The Dandelion Celebration - The Guide to Unexpected Cuisine" is recommended to anyone who would like to know more about this remarkable plant. It covers everything you could want to know about dandelions and more, including recipes, planting, picking and preparing, along with the wonderful history of this "Official Remedy for Disorders", Taraxacum officinale, the common dandelion.

Dandelions Picked

Dandelion Flowers in International Cultures

A native of Europe and Asian, the name dandelion came from French, dent de lion, or tooth of the lion, referring to the toothed leaves. The botanical name is Taraxacum officinale (tar-AX-a-kum oh-fis-in-AY-lee.) Officianle means it was sold in state-designated Roman shops for food or medicine, now days the word is used for plants that had or have medicinal applications. Dandelion’s claim to fame was keeping the urinary system functioning, which a 1994 study demonstrated.

As for Taraxacum, it has two possibilities. One is a name traceable through Arabic to the Persian word "tarashqum", meaning ‘bitter herb.’ But since Latin is essentially a combination of hijacked Etruscan and bastardized Greek, it could also come from the Greek word "taraxi" to disturb, referring to its ability to get the water flowing again. That is in contrast with the latex sap of the dandelion, which can be used as a glue, right from the stem. Modern Greeks call it Radiki (rah-DEE-kee) the same word the use for chicory.

Field of Dandelions

Dandelion Flowers' Ancestors

Dandelions are thought to have evolved about thirty million years ago in Eurasia. They have been used by humans for food and as a herb for much of recorded history. They were introduced to North America by early European immigrants.

The blue pretty Chicory is a close relative of the dandelion but not sweet at all.

 

 

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