Remember when you were younger and the first glimmer of springtime was little puffballs and yellow flowers on the side of the road? This meant there were wishes to be made. As an adult I still try to take the time to stop and make a few wishes by blowing on a dandelion puff; because I believe living with childlike eyes enriches the soul.
As we get older the magic around dandelions seems to fade. Instead of magic wish makers we begin to adopt the idea that these yellow flowers and balls of puff are a nuisance to perfectly manicured lawns. They become overlooked as a common weed. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Dandelions are packed with medicinal benefits. Health food stores even sell them for salad mixes and teas at a high price; but chances are you can find them in your backyard for free.
Health Benefits of Dandelions
Dandelions are a highly nutritious antioxidant rich plant that’s been used medically for centuries. They contain vitamins A, C, K, & E- as well as folate and some B vitamins. The leafy green area of the dandelion plant are a great source of minerals like potassium, iron and magnesium.
The root of the plant is a soluble fiber that helps promote healthy gut bacteria, which is vital to mental health and overall wellness. Read my post Can Food Help Treat Mental Illness? Eating Your Way to Mental Health to learn more about how gut bacteria promotes mental health. Many gut healing teas on the market actually contain dandelion root.
Studies also suggest the dandelion plant helps reduce inflammation in the body. Regularly consuming inflammation fighting foods helps to decrease the chance of many chronic illnesses often caused by extended inflammation in the body.
Other health benefits include:
- May Help to Manage Blood Sugar
- Lowers Blood Pressure
- Reduces Bad Cholesterol
- Supports Healthy Liver Function
- Anticancer Properties
- Immune System Support
- Helps Protect Aging Skin
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How to Consume Dandelions
Most of the entire dandelion plant edible. The only part you won’t want to eat is the stem. It contains an extremely bitter milky substance. You can actually just go out to your lawn pull up the stems and all, wash the plant off and eat it completely raw.
The fresh flowers and leaves can be steeped in hot water to create an herbal tea. Or they can be dried on a baking pan in the sun or oven and placed in jars for making tea at a later date. If you don’t live in an area where wild dandelions grow you can find so many great dandelion teas premade.
During the great depression dandelion salads were eaten out of necessity, because people had to survive on what they had. Now, fancy health food grocery chains sell dandelions for almost $5 a bundle. 94 year old Clara Cannucciari shares her mother’s dandelion salad recipe from the great depression in this video. It’s so simple only using four ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen (and yard) already.
If the taste of dandelion tea or salad is not appetizing to you there are supplemental option like liquid dandelion extract that can easily be added to smoothies, or dandelion capsules. While I love harvesting dandelions from from my garden for teas and salads, I recommend taking dandelion extract supplements if you’re consuming the herb for specific medicinal results. Supplements provide an easier way to track your daily dosage of the plant. Always consult with your physician before starting a new supplement, even if it’s purely natural as some medicinal plants can interfere with certain prescription medications.
My Favorite Wild Dandelion Tea Recipe
This wild dandelion tea the the perfect caffeine free pick me up. It’s spicy and sweet with a slight floral taste. If you don’t have wild dandelions in your yard you can by prepackaged dandelion flowers or seeds to grow your own in containers.
Wild Dandelion Tea
- 4 Dried Dandelion Flowers
- 1 Sliced Ginger Root Medallion
- 1 tbsp Raw Honey
- 1 Lemon Wedge Juice
- Cut the flower head of the dandelion (Be sure to cut off most of the stem)
- Dry flowers on a baking dish in the oven at 200 for 2 hours
- Bring water to a boil
- Steep four dried flowers and ginger into water for 10 minutes
- Add honey and lemon juice