Sunday, September 8, 2013

Dandelion Edible Plant Or Just A Weed?

Common #Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) in flower - Photo by Utopia Au Utopia Magazine
Dandelions, the plant we see in our gardens, foot paths, or by the roadside are in fact edible. Notice I didn't say the word "weed" just yet. The common Dandelion is known for its bright yellow flower which turns into round balls of silver fluff that disperse in the wind called "blowballs" found growing in many regions of the world.

#Dandelion Salad Dandelion greens, Dandelion Flowers, Dandelion buds - Photo by Utopia au Utopia Magazine
I First heard about Dandelion's years ago from a friend who was a gardener and owned a nursery. At the time I simply laughed and said to him "So you mean I have been pulling out all the weeds in my garden and all this time I could have benefited health wise from this by eating them or drinking Dandelion tea?"

So he took me to my back yard and picked a few dandelion flowers, rinsed them under water and said "try one" so I did. Dandelion flowers sort of have a sweet taste  however, the leaves are quite bitter. So I was not a fan of the leaves until he proceeded to tell me that in fact I had already eaten the leaves of the dandelion at our last BBQ get together which I didn't know I was eating the young leaves in his salad, which made us both laugh.

Common #Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) flower - Utopia Au Utopia Magazine

The common Dandelion plant including the flowers, leaves and root are edible and can be used as a medical herb and can be used in food preparation. Dandelion Tea tastes great with honey and is well known for its health properties. Young Dandelion leaves known as (Dandelion greens) and unopened buds  are mostly used in salads. Dandelion greens can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, sautéed or braised. For use in salads, greens should be harvested from new plants while still small and tender, before the first flower emerges. Larger greens tend to be tougher and more bitter, and better suited for cooking.

Dandelion Leaves
The Dandelion leaves are rich in potassium, antioxidants and are high in vitamin A, vitamin C and iron, carrying more iron and calcium than spinach.

Dandelion Root
Dandelion roots can be used as a coffee alternative if roasted, dried and ground. In addition, the roots contain inulin and levulin, starchlike substances that may help balance blood sugar, as well as bitter taraxacin, which stimulates digestion. Dandelion tea is well known and available world wide. It has long been used as a liver tonic and diuretic.

Dandelion Flowers and Buds
The flowers are best known for their use in dandelion wine, Dandelion Tea, but they also can be added to a salad, made into jellies or dipped in batter to make dandelion fritters.

Is a Dandelion really a weed then?  Let's break it down.

 Dandelion Plant or weed?- Utopia Au Utopia Magazine

To the common gardener, the Dandelion is nothing but a weed that is resilient and hard to get rid of. The world literally spends thousands of dollars per year using pesticides to rid their lawns of this weed or if your hobby is gardening you may like to get down on your hands and knees and pull out the weeds, a time consuming, but Eco friendly way to be at one with nature.

The definition of a Dandelion Plant  a large genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. They are native to Eurasia and North and South 

America. Two species, officinale and T. erythrospermumare found as weeds worldwide. Both species are edible in their entirety.

Dandelion in Health
  • All parts of the dandelion are edible and have medicinal and culinary uses.
  • Dandelion is used for loss of appetite, upset stomach, intestinal gas, gallstones, joint pain, muscle aches, eczema, bruises, & preventing urinary tract infections. Dandelion is also used to increase urine production and as a laxative to increase bowel movements. It is also used as skin toner, blood tonic, and digestive tonic. Some people use dandelion to treat infection, like viral infections
  • Preventing urinary tract infections. A specific combination of dandelion root and leaf extracts of another herb called uva ursi taken by mouth seems to help reduce the number of UTIs in women. In this combination, uva ursi is used because it seems to kill bacteria, and dandelion is used to increase urine flow. However, this combination should not be used long-term because is it not known if uva ursi is safe for extended use.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of dandelion for these uses.

#Dandelion Tea  - Photo by Utopia au Utopia Magazine
Dandelion Tea

Dandelion tea can be made solely from the blossoms, the leaves, or the roots (roasted or not)—or, the entire plant.
Dandelion tea is available on the market worldwide.

Some of the many traditional benefits of dandelion tea, just for starters:
Dandelion tea tastes good (especially with a sweetener like honey or sugar.
  • Dandelion tea can benefit your health
  • Can be used as (weight loss, rejuvenation, detoxification; digestive, liver, kidney, & skin supplements).
  • Dandelion tea aids in digestion, and functions well to relieve digestive disorders like constipation and diarrhea.
  • Dandelion tea works great to purify the blood and cleanse the system.
  • Dandelion tea enhances detoxification, by stimulating urination and, in addition, by replacing the potassium lost in that process.
  • Dandelion tea is one of the most effective herbs for getting the bloat out and helping relieve water retention.
  • Dandelion tea has specific action in reducing inflammation, of the gall bladder and of the bile duct, and for rheumatism and arthritis.
  • Dandelion tea improves the function of and maintains optimum liver, kidney, pancreas, spleen, stomach, and gall bladder functions.
  • Dandelion tea helps in treating chronic hepatitis and jaundice disorders, and encourages healing of damaged tissues caused by alcohol liver disease.
  • Dandelion tea helps reduce high cholesterol.
  • Dandelion tea contains antioxidants that help your body fight off toxic bacteria and viruses.
  • Dandelion tea helps with weight control—especially with weight loss.
  • Dandelion tea actively ameliorates disease—it is a potent disease-fighter—and helps the body heal, helps boost immunity, and combat cancer, heart disease, and age-related memory loss.
  • Dandelion tea aids health maintenance for people suffering from Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes.
  • Dandelion tea transfers magnificent amounts of minerals and vitamins: A, C, D, E, & B complex, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese, copper, choline, and boron, etc. when infused in hot water.
  • Dandelion tea as a face wash cleanses complexion, improves skin clarity.
Composting spent dandelion tea blossoms, leaves, and/or roots, after drinking your dandelion tea, improves soil composition.
Common #Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Blowball - Photo By Utopia Au Utopia Magazine

Side Effects & Safety - WARNING 
  • Not enough study is know about using Dandelion while being pregnant or if you are a breast feeding mother.
  • Speak to your doctor. Do not take the risk of  ingesting the Dandelion plant until you do so.
  • If you have sensitive skin or are allergic to ragweed and related plants (daisies, chrysanthemums, marigolds) are likely to be allergic to dandelion. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking dandelion.
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