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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

Dandelions are North America’s Native Medicine

May 28, 2021 09:31AM ● By Gina Saka
Dandelions are those pretty, little, yellow flowers commonly referred to as “weeds”, which are routinely removed and discarded from lawns across the country. The truth is, dandelions are not weeds at all, but completely edible flowers with powerful medicinal benefits. The plant is native to North America and Eurasia and has been used as food and medicine for thousands of years. The roots, leaves, stems and flowers all have vitamins and minerals that support a healthy body and mind.

Dandelions contain high levels of vitamins K, C, A and B6 that support a healthy, balanced diet. There is also a significant amount of iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium that help regulate blood pressure and produce healthy, red blood cells. Here are the benefits and uses of each part of this miracle flower:

Dandelion Roots

Dandelion roots have long been used to treat liver and stomach issues, and today are commonly used to treat heartburn, gastrointestinal disorders, high cholesterol, diabetes and more. They contain bitter compounds that work as a mild laxative to aid with digestion.

Usage: Typically, the raw dried or fresh root is brewed into a tea or infusion. Additionally, the root can be made into a poultice and applied topically to ease acne, eczema, rashes and other skin conditions.

Dandelion Flower

The dandelion flowers contain high levels of polyphenols, which help fight against cardiovascular disease and cancer. Plus, there are tons of antioxidants in addition to vitamin A and B12 content. The flowers can help relieve headaches, muscle cramps and even boost mood. In Korean folklore, they were used as a powerful antidote to skin infections and tuberculosis.

Usage: Dandelion flowers, like the roots, can be used in teas and tincture, in addition to infused into syrups, honeys, wines and cordials. Also, the sweet and crunchy flower can be eaten raw, breaded or fried. Even the sap from the stem of the flower can be used topically to treat rough skin, calluses, corns and warts.

Dandelion Leaves

Dandelion leaves, also known as dandelion greens, are the greens that grow in abundance directly around the flower. They are packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that help protect vision, control blood sugar, encourage wound healing, protect heart health and prevent certain types of cancer. They are dense in vitamins A, C, K and calcium.

Usage: Dandelion greens are popularly used in salads. The taste is a bit earthy and bitter, kind of similar to radicchio. In a salad, they can be consumed raw and slightly massaged to make them more tender with lemon or dressing. Alternatively, the greens can also be sauteed with garlic and oil for a nutritious side to any meal.

Dandelions are a true medicinal flower that grow abundantly here in the U.S. If picking dandelions for consumption, make sure that the lawn has not been treated with any fertilizer or toxic chemicals. In addition, individuals should make sure that they are not allergic to dandelion or dandelion pollen. If unsure, avoid consumption. Teas and poultices, as well as the flowers and greens, can also be found in many health food stores and organic markets.

Gina Saka is a freelance writer located in San Diego who writes for Natural Awakenings magazine editions across the country. To connect, email [email protected].

Dandelion Spring Salad

Yield: 4 servings

1 Tbsp virgin olive oil

1 tsp juice from a lemon

1 tsp raw honey

2 tsp chopped garlic scapes or wild (sprigs)

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

2 cups organic dandelion leaves
(rinsed and pat dry)

2 chopped tomatoes

1 oz parmesan cheese

A few dandelion flowers
(rinsed and pat dry)

Whisk the oil, lemon juice, honey, garlic, salt and pepper in a small mixing bowl. Taste for salt/pepper if you wish. Put the dandelion leaves and tomatoes in the bowl and toss to combine. Sprinkle cheese on top. Garnish with dandelion flowers.

Source: Shae Marcus, owner/publisher of Natural Awakenings South Jersey.