Often viewed as nothing more than a pest, taking over our yards each year, dandelions have come to be seen as the definition of a backyard weed. Children love them, braiding dandelion crowns and making wishes as they blow the seeds throughout the yard, but most adults would be more than happy to do away with them! However, many natural health conscious individuals are now starting to discover that there is more than meets the eye with this little yellow flower!
A member of the Sunflower family, dandelions have actually been used for medicinal purposes throughout history. The first references that have been found date back to the 10th and 11th centuries when Middle Eastern physicians wrote about using dandelions as a form of medicine. This understanding and use of dandelions for medicinal purposes has continued throughout history and is even making headlines again today.
In February 2015, the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada announced that they would be starting a clinical study focused on assessing the potential of dandelion extract to kill cancer cells. The whole project began in 2009, and initial research leading up to the clinical trial found that creating a dandelion tea from the dandelion extract created a substance that was effective in killing cancer cells in a lab.
Additional health benefits associated with dandelions include:
Constipation: High in dietary fiber, dandelions work to stimulate healthy and regular bowel movements, add bulk to stool and reduce chances of both constipation and diarrhea.
Diabetes: Dandelion juice has been found to help stimulate the production of insulin within the body, effectively lowering the blood sugar level. They also possess diuretic properties which help to remove excess sugar from the body via an increased rate of urination.
High Blood Pressure: Many modern blood pressure medications work by increasing urination which in turn lowers blood pressure. The diuretic properties of dandelion juice allow it to work in a similar manner. It’s high fiber content also allows it to reduce cholesterol levels contributing to healthy blood pressure.
Acne: Dandelion juice functions as a diuretic, detoxifier, and stimulant, regulating the secretion of hormones from the body. It increases sweating and widens pores, reducing the incidence of acne. When used it externally it can also speed up healing and inhibit microbial growth.
Liver Health: The antioxidants, vitamin C, and luteolin in the liver help to encourage optimal function. It also contains additional compounds that work to treat hemorrhaging, maintain the flow of bile and promote proper digestion.
Gall Bladder Disorders: Similar to its effects on liver health, dandelions work to improve the function of the gall bladder while protecting it from the potential effects of oxidants and infections. It also works to regular secretions from the organs.
Jaundice: Dandelions work to reduce and eliminate jaundice in a number of ways. It’s effects on liver health help to regular bile production and flow and its diuretic properties work to eliminate excess bile through increased urination. At the same time, its antioxidant and disinfectant properties help to fight any viral infections present in the body.
Skin Care: Due to the disinfectant properties of dandelions, as well as the fact it possesses germicidal, insecticidal and fungicidal properties, it is often used in the treatment of skin diseases which are caused by either microbial or fungal infections. Some common uses include itches, eczema, and ringworm.
Bone Health: Rich both in calcium and antioxidants, dandelions help to promote the growth of strong, healthy bones. They also contain vitamin C and Luteolin which have been found to protect bones from age-related damage.
Urinary Disorders: The diuretic properties of dandelions work to eliminate toxins in the kidneys and the urinary tract. The disinfectant properties help to inhibit the growth of any microbes along the urinary system.
Anemia: With high levels of iron, vitamins, and protein, dandelions work to help anemic people keep their condition balanced and in check.
Weight Loss: The diuretic properties of dandelions help to eliminate the ‘water weight’ without adverse side effects. They are also low in calories and often used as an artificial sweetener as they do not contain unhealthy sugars or chemicals alternatives.
Try These Fun Summer Recipes:
Summer Dandelion Salad
Makes 4 Servings
You Will Need:
- 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- 4 Tablespoons Dried Dulse
- 2 Tablespoons Minced Red Onion
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Bunch of Dandelion Greens
- 2 Tablespoons Raw Pumpkin Seed
- 1 Ounce of Parmesan Cheese (if vegan, substitute with nutritional yeast)
- Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
- Mix the mustard, vinegar, and dulse in a blender. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the blended dressing into a small bowl and whisk in the oil using a slow, steady stream.
- Rinse and dry the dandelion greens. Toss them in a large salad bowl with your newly made dressing.
- Top the salad with the parmesan (or nutritional yeast).
Garlic Mushroom Dandelion Greens
Serves 4 to 6 People
You Will Need:
- 2 Bunches of Dandelion Greens, Lightly Chopped
- 5 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 1 Red Onion, Chopped
- 3 Ounces Shitake Mushrooms, Sliced
- ½ Cup Red Cooking Wine
- 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
- Add the garlic and onions to the skillet and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onions appear translucent and lightly browned.
- Add the shitake mushrooms. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have reduced and softened.
- Add the dandelion greens, red wine, salt, and pepper, and cover the skillet. Cook for approximately 7 minutes, or until the greens have softened.
Dandelion Pesto with Pine Nuts
Serves 6 People
You Will Need:
- 1 Large Clove of Garlic
- 1 Large Bunch of Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
- 2 Cups of Chopped Dandelion Greens
- ½ Cup of Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
- ½ Cup of Pine Nuts
- 3 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese (if vegan, substitute with nutritional yeast)
- ½ Cup of Olive Oil
- Sea Salt to Taste
- Using a medium-sized sauce pan, fill it with water and bring it to boil.
- Blanch the greens by placing both the parsley and dandelion greens in a pot, making sure that everything has been submerged. Only cook them in this way for 1 minute.
- Strain the water from the saucepan. Fill the pan with cold water, halting the cooking process.
- Strain the pan again, this time transferring the blanched greens into either a blender or a food processor.
- Add the pine nuts, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and a pinch of sea salt to the mixture. Blend the mixture until you reach the consistency desired.