Who remembers as a child, picking these bad boys out of the ground to give to mum, dad, grandma or to just blow the little white seeds everywhere while “making a wish”?
Who would have guessed this flower that naturally grows in your backyard could be a superfood?! Dandelion’s mostly known as a backyard weed, but it has amazing health benefits and is a nutrient powerhouse!
All the parts of the plant can be used in many different ways, though the roots and leaves are most commonly used as herbs.
Dandelion Root and leaf benefits
The dandelion plant itself contains a range of nutrients, and the roots and leaves are good sources of vitamins such as A,C, K and B-vitamins, plus minerals like magnesium, zinc, potassium, iron, calcium and choline. This plant has a long history of being used as a herbal remedy, and in areas where it grows naturally, documented populations have used it medicinally.
It can also be used as a food source, as all parts of it can be eaten. The root is usually roasted and used in teas or simply consumed whole. The leaves go really well in salads or other meals requiring greens, and the flowers (while still yellow), can be eaten raw, cooked, or even made in wine! (cool, huh?)
Cultures traditionally used dandelion to support hormonal and digestive health, lactation, or to help remedy conditions like urinary tract infections (UTIs).
The Many Benefits of Dandelion
Dandelion has many beneficial properties for the body, including:
Liver Health and Detoxification
In my interview with Dee (from Cell to Soul), she talked about the importance of the liver, and how it acts as the “gatekeeper to the body, filtering out toxins, hormones, food, heavy metals, and other substances we come into contact with in our everyday lives. If the liver isn’t able to perform its job effectively, it can cause problems down the track. Dandelion is believed to help detoxify the liver. The University of Maryland Medical Center noted that:
In the past, roots and leaves were used to treat liver problems. Native Americans also boiled dandelion in water and took it to treat kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and upset stomach. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), it has been used to treat stomach problems, appendicitis, and breast problems, such as inflammation or lack of milk flow. In Europe, dandelion was used in remedies for fever, boils, eye problems, diabetes, and diarrhoea.
Because of its ability to help support natural detoxification systems in the body, and its rich source of nutrients, dandelion is commonly used by those with hormonal imbalances, urinary infections, or recurring mastitis. It’s not been well studied, but there is much anecdotal evidence from those who’ve used dandelion to help remedy infections like recurring UTIs and more.
Balances Blood Sugar
It was also reported by The University of Maryland Medical Center that:
Preliminary animal studies suggest that dandelion may help normalize blood sugar levels and lower total cholesterol and triglycerides while raising HDL (good) cholesterol in diabetic mice. Researchers need to see if dandelion will work in people. A few animal studies also suggest that dandelion might help fight inflammation.
Promotes Clearer Skin
As it’s a good source of zinc and magnesium, and has the potential ability to aid detoxification in the body, dandelion is thought to be good for skin health, too. It can be taken in tea or capsule form, or applied topically in the form of tinctures, creams or poultices to assist with keeping skin healthy.
The Many Uses of Dandelion (including Brewing it into a Tea)
Perhaps if we were more familiar with this so-called “weed” we wouldn’t be in such a hurry to remove it from our yards. The whole dandelion can be used in a myriad or ways, if you have a safe (non-sprayed) source in your yard or community which you can harvest yourself!
Here are some of the ways you can use dandelion:
The flower can be used to make tea or even wine! The leaves and roots can also be used in teas, though their taste is more intense, and so are often combined with other herbs for a nicer flavour and increased absorption of nutrients.
Here are a couple of recipes on how to make dandelion tea at home!
The dandelion tea tasted delicious, though, if the taste is too strong for you, you can dilute it with more water (the flower doesn’t usually have as intense a flavour as the root).
Dandelion Tea Recipe (from Scratch)
I often make this tea at home, after collecting the dandelions from my garden, I come inside, brew them up, and the tea’s ready to enjoy! (I have it both warm and cold).
- 2 cups fresh, clean dandelion (I use flowers, stem, leaves and roots – basically the whole plant).
- 4 cups filtered water
- Place the clean dandelions into a sauce pan.
- Cover water and bring to a boil. Cover and remove from heat.
- Allow the tea to infuse for three hours or overnight.
- Strain out the dandelion and reserve the liquid for your tea.
- Dilute the tea with water if the flavour is too strong.
For a live run-through tutorial of how to make this dandelion tea, see my video tutorial below:
Roasted Dandelion Root Tea Recipe
This makes a great coffee substitute, as this recipe’s more of a dandelion coffee than tea! I originally got this recipe from mommypotamus.
- 4 1/2 tsp dried dandelion root
- 2 cups water
- 1-2 tbsp butter or cream to taste (optional)
- Optional additions: 1 cinnamon stick OR 1/2 tsp dried ginger OR 1 tsp fresh minced ginger OR vanilla extract to taste (or a combination of all these)
- Place medium saucepan over medium heat and place dried dandelion root in.
- Toast the root until it becomes fragrant and golden brown, then add in water and additional ingredients (if using), and bring to a boil.
- Once the water boils, reduce heat and allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes, then strain and serve.
- Blend in a little maple syrup and a tablespoon of butter, or try a dollop of cream (coconut cream is amazing!) and 2-3 drops of vanilla extract.
Strained and ready to drink! (I put the remaining dandelions in my compost)
Because dandelion root is tougher than the leaf, it’s often used in tinctures and decoctions. The powder can be added as a coffee substitute, and the root is known to be a diuretic.
Dandelion leaf and root are often used in teas and poultices for abscesses and sores, particularly on the breast and in natural remedies for female health conditions as they can help support things like lactation, and act as a natural remedy for urinary tract infections.
According to Mountain Rose Herbs (which I found from Wellness Mama):
Chopped dandelion root can be combined with myrrh to make a poultice for boils and abscesses, with honeysuckle flowers to make a tea to be drunk to treat boils and abscesses, with skullcap and/or chrysanthemum flowers to make a tea to be drunk to treat sore eyes, or with heal-all to treat hard phlegm in bronchitis. Can also be administered in capsule or extract form for convenience.
Uses in Salads
The leaves are antioxidant rich and the most diuretic part of the plant, so, while it’s ok to consume them regularly, it’s really important to ensure you’re staying hydrated, too. You can consume the leaves fresh or incorporate them into a salad or in recipes. They can be used as substitutes for greens like kale and collards. The options are endless!
As always, it’s important to check with a doctor before taking this or any other herb, especially in large amounts or if taking any other medicine or supplement or if pregnant or nursing. While it’s generally considered safe to consume, those allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigold, chamomile, yarrow, daisies, or iodine may not be able to consume it.
If you gather wild-grown dandelion (like from the backyard or reserve), it’s important to make sure that the area has not been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides and that it doesn’t come from an area where pets have done their business.
Have you used dandelion before? What did you use it in? Share your experience below! We’d love hear!
Lots of love,
Wells, Katie. (Updated: October 7, 2019). Dandelion Root: A Backyard Herb with Many Benefits. Wellness Mama. Retrieved from https://wellnessmama.com/5680/dandelion/