Fleetneedles' Forage: Dandelion

As part of our Save Our Skills year, we are looking at foraging. These post were originally published on our Facebook Page, we'd like to thank Claire Fleetneedle for allowing us to publish them here.

Uses for dandelions #foraging #saveourskills

DANDELION (Taraxacum Officinale)

Dandelion is an amazing wild herb which is often over looked. The plant is so common it does not need description.  

Contains vitamins A, B6 & C plus sodium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and iron.

Do not use if you suffer from low blood pressure. Do not take the root without medical guidance if you have any bile duct disorders or gall stones.

Antioxidant, detoxicant, powerful diuretic, mild laxative, anti-rheumatic, stomachic, digestive, antiseptic, circulatory stimulant, cholesterol reducer and bitter tonic. Increases the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

Everyday Use
Despite its reputation as a nuisance weed, the dandelion is very useful for bees and was once highly prized for its medicinal and edible value. Herbalists regard it as a purifying herb partly due to its high mineral content. These purifying qualities make it an ideal herb for skin complaints such as acne and eczema and also for elimination of toxins and even cholesterol from the system.  

The leaves and flowers can be eaten in a salad or cooked, and although mildly bitter the taste is not unpleasant. If the flavour of the leaves it not to your taste they are just as useful made into a tea. A tea can be made with a couple of handfuls of freshly picked, washed leaves in a tea pot filled with boiling water; however do not exceed three cups a day. In this form it is a powerful diuretic so works well on cases of water retention and even cystitis. As a child I was told that if you picked dandelions you would wet the bed, indeed they have been known as ‘piss-a-beds’ for centuries which is undoubtedly due to their strong diuretic qualities.

The roots can be dried and roasted and made into a coffee-like drink. I am currently part way through the process of drying the roots to make this drink so I will report back my findings at a later date.

Dandelions were traditionally used for a number of disorders, such as kidney and liver complaints, and the plant is still used medicinally for its capacity to eliminate obstructions from internal organs, such as the gallbladder, pancreas and liver, and to cleanse toxins from the blood.

It has also proved useful in the treatment of arthritis as it disperses acidic deposits from the affected joints and lowers uric acid levels. For this same reason it is used to treat gout.

The plant is thought to be equally effective in the treatment of intestinal, digestive and stomach ailments. As a strong detoxifier it is also useful as a mild laxative and even a weight loss herb. Many herbalists use it to treat circulatory problems and even onset diabetes and hypoglycaemia as it assists in balancing blood sugar levels. It is also used in the treatment of chest complaints as it is known to strengthen lung tissue.

The final use I could find for this medicinally versatile herb was in a very old Welsh herbal book which claimed that the sap from the stem applied to the affected area cures, not only warts, but pimples too.

These are some of my personal experiences using Dandelion combined with information I have researched over a number of years. I am not encouraging people to self-medicate, in the treatment of specific conditions it is best to consult with an herbalist or your GP. If you should develop an adverse reaction to any of the above please stop using the herb immediately. And always take care when identifying the plant.

Happy Hunting, Claire Fleetneedle

LIFE ON PIG ROW DISCLAIMER: We’d like to thank Claire for this wonderful piece, as she points out, this is her personal experience and common sense must prevail in homemade herbal remedies. Therefore, if you are out and about foraging and aren’t confident that what you are about to pick is edible or medicinal the best advice is to leave it where it is. In the event of an adverse reaction to any homemade herbal remedy or foraged edible food you are advised to seek out medical advice. While every care is taken in the production of these posts neither Claire Fleetneedle nor Life on Pig Row are responsible for adverse reactions. Please remember to check local by-laws before foraging and never forage on private land without permission. Please use common sense when foraging.


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