MATERIA MEDICA

DANDELION

“Blowball,” “Irish Daisy,” “Lion’s tooth,” “Witch’s Gowan,” “Yellow Gowan,” “Monks Head,” “Priest’s Crown”

Taraxacum officinale Untitled design

Family: Asteraceae

 

A flower that brings back memories in our hearts as children. A shared love of blowing away its puffs of magic and watching them float through the air. Dandelion is truly an amazing plant. It’s quite possibly one of the most resilient plants, growing through the cracks of pavement in huge cities to covering open fields with its sunny yellow flowers. A great ally in our medicinal cabinets and forever nostalgia of our pasts. Learn more about its many sides below!

Description:

A bright yellow open flower head holding petals throughout in a circular formation with delicate pistils and stamens concentrated in the center sitting atop a stalk. When fruiting it forms a fuzzy ball cluster on wind dispersed seeds. The leaves emerge around the crown with deep serrated edges all the way up, coining the name “Lion’s tooth.”

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History & Folklore:

Native to Europe and Asia, but extensively found in the United States, where in most cases it’s considered a pesky weed. It is commonly associated that a Dandelions puff of seeds can grant a wish waiting to be blown away. Dandelion has a great history in magic and folklore, some have thought of the tea made from the roots as an aid in psychic abilities and prophetic dreaming. In Greek mythology it was the goddess Hecate’s flower of strength. In a more practical sense Dandelion was a way of telling time. “The dandelion is called the rustic oracle; its flowers always open about 5 A.M. and shut at 8 P.M., serving the shepherd for a clock,” (Chamberlain, 2004). How have you seen the magic of the Dandelion, have any of your wishes come true?

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Medicinal Uses:

All parts of the plant are used in medicinal practices; flowers, leaves, roots. It is common to use flowers in infusions, or eaten raw. As well, the leaves can be added to salads or soups and taste similar to mustard greens. “In the United States, with our unsophisticated taste buds, appreciation for the feisty bitter greens is low. But in France and many other European countries, its bitter flavor is prized and frequently included in salads,” (Gladstar, 1993). dandelion-1311718_640The leaves are very rich in iron containing more iron and calcium than spinach. After two years of growing, the roots have reached their maximum in concentrated constituents and are ready to harvest to make medicinal tinctures and tablets. Dandelions constituents are taraxacin (a bitter principle), taraxacerin, resin, inulin, sugar, and mucilaginous substances. Dandelion contains vitamins A, B, C, and D as well as minerals iron, potassium, and zinc. Dandelion is mainly used as a diuretic and unlike most synthetic diuretics that deplete the body of potassium, Dandelion is rich in natural potassium to supply the body.  Research has also shown that Dandelion root is a mild bitter and appetite stimulant. As a bitter it works by increasing the secretion of digestive juices in the lining of the stomach. As well, Dandelion root has a cleansing effect on the liver by stimulating the production of bile. While increasing this production, it is also a cure for constipation. It is well known for its abilities to regenerate a slow functioning liver due to excess alcohol or disease. For women Dandelion is known to benefit the reproductive system by regulating and normalizing hormone production, especially for woman going through menopause. The leaf aids in relieving excess water retention during PMS when feeling bloated and breast tenderness. In TCM, Dandelion was used mainly as a treatment for acute mastitis and urinary disorders. The leaves aid in eliminating excess water and toxins from the kidneys. Dandelion can be used as infusions, tinctures, capsules, or eaten raw.

Cautions:

Dandelion is generally considered safe. If you are allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, chamomile, yarrow’s daisy or iodine, you should avoid dandelion root. In some cases dandelion can increase stomach acid and cause heartburn. It may also irritate the skin. People with kidney problems, gallbladder problems, or gallstone should consult a doctor before taking. Since dandelion root can be used as a diuretic it can cause drugs to leave your body faster and interacts poorly with most medications. It greatly affects antacids, blood-thinning medications, diuretics, lithium, ciprofloxacin, medications for diabetes, and medications that are broken down by the liver. Dandelion should also be avoided during antibiotic treatments because it diminishes their ability to fight infection. Always consult a professional before taking any herbal medicine.

Resources:

ONLINE:

http://fohn.net/dandelion-pictures/folklore.html

http://www.witchipedia.com/herb:dandelion

BOOK:

Chamberlain, Alexander F., Folkard (2004) “The Child and Childhood in Folk-Thought”

Gladstar, Rosemary, (1993) “Herbal Healing for Women”  

Blach, Phyllis A., (2012), 2nd edition “Prescriptions for Herbal Healing”

Merrett, Victoria, (2013) “Healing Plants: a beginners guide to plants as natural remedies”

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