The dandelion is a perennial plant found, to the dismay of many, almost everywhere. The oblong leaves grow in a rosette from the milky taproot, which also sends up one or more naked flower stems, each terminating in a single yellow flower. The familiar puffball that succeeds the flower is a globular cluster of achenes, each of which is fitted with a parachute.
Family: Compositae (Sunflower family)
Other Names: Blow ball, Cankerwort, Lion’s tooth, Puffball, Pee in the bed, Fairy clock
Flowers: March – September
Parts Used: All
Habitat: Lawns, fields, waste places. Throughout our area, but rare in southeastern U.S.
Constituents: Root – The bitter principle taraxacin, triterpenes (including taraxol and taraxasterol), sterols, inulin, sugars, pectin, glycosides, choline, phenolic acids, asparagine, vitamins, potassium.
Leaves – Lutein, violaxanthin, and other carotenoids; bitter substances; vitamins A, B, C, and D (the vitamin A content is higher than that of carrots); potassium and iron.
Properties: Aperient, Cholagogue, Diuretic, Stomachic, and Tonic.
Main Uses: The humble dandelion is one of nature’s great medicines. The root is a mildly laxative bitter tonic, valuable in dyspepsia and constipation. It stimulates the liver and gallbladder (mainly due to its taraxacin content) substantially increasing the flow of bile.
The diuretic power of the dandelion has been favorable compared with a common diuretic drug, Frusemide. However, unlike conventional diuretics, dandelion does not leach potassium from the body; its rich potassium content replaces that which the body loses. Dandelion cleanses the blood and tissues, and is useful in the treatment of skin diseases and rheumatism.
Preparation And Dosages:
Use the whole plant before it flowers, the leaves during flowering, and the root alone in the fall.
Tincture: Fresh root (1:2), 1/2 to 1 teaspoon up to 4 times a day….long term use.
Decoction: Use 4 ounces fresh plant with 2 pints water; boil down gently to 1 pint and strain. Take 3 tablespoon, six times a day.
Cold Extract: Use 2 teaspoons plant with 1 cup water; let stand for 8 hours.
Juice: For a spring tonic, take 1 teaspoon juice pressed from the leaves in milk, one to three times a day. An electric vegetable juicer is helpful.
Infusion: Use 2 teaspoons fresh root and leaves with 1/2 cup water; boil briefly and then steep for 15 minutes. Take 1/2 cup, morning and evening. In addition, take daily 1 to 2 glasses of water with 3 tablespoons juice (pressed from root and leaves) per glass. Use dandelion leaves in salad.
Dandelion is also a wild food.