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Here’s some information I got on my e-mail about dandelions.  I’ve gotten a couple of recipes for using dandelions.  FamilyHerbalRemedies.com is one place I’ve only started to mine for natural remedy information (it was very helpful in dealing with Jim’s thrush) and this link will give you some more dandelion recipe ideas and information.  A simple start is to simply throw a few dandelion flowers into lemon water or lemonade.  Let them soak for at least 15 minutes, then  enjoy.  You can discard the flowers when the flavor is where you want it. 

We first experimented with dandelion greens after reading a Little House on the Prairie book.  Laura talked about dandelion green salad and how wonderful it was to have fresh veggies after a long winter (this was, of course, when the railroad just barely reached California, let alone hauled it’s Iceberg lettuce to the Dakotas in January).  We could relate, so decided to give it a try.  We discovered that the big leaves are very bitter.  The leaves are tasty until the flower comes on, then they are bitter as can be. 

Happy reading! 

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Don’t Kill that Dandelion – It Can Relieve Diabetes and More!

By Steve Volpe

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Greetings!

What an irony! The relentless dandelion is both the scourge of every gardener and a godsend for every herbalist. Most of us are familiar with the bright yellow flower heads and spiky green leaves that seem to spoil our flawless and unnaturally manicured carpets of green. As mother nature fights us tooth-and-nail defending biodiversity despite the onslaught of chemical pesticides, we would live longer, healthier lives if we simply welcomed the dandelion into our lives and into our lawns. Not only would we benefit from the abolition of chemical warfare in the garden, we would reap the proven health benefits of one of the most misunderstood and under-appreciated plants to ever fill a trash bag or compost heap.

* What’s in a Name? *

The name dandelion is a derivation of the French “dents de lion” which literally translates into the words “teeth of the lion”. This name refers to the jagged, serrated edges of the leaves that resemble teeth. The other familiar French name “pissenlit” translates to “pee in bed”, and this name alludes to the diuretic properties of the herb.

*A Little History Lesson *

The use of this unheralded member of the aster family dates far back to Chinese herbal medicine of the seventh century. In the tenth and eleventh centuries, textual citations mentioning dandelion in a medicinal or nutritional context were attributed to Arabian physicians, who regarded it as a wild endive. Subsequently, there have been allusions to dandelion in thirteenth century Welsh medicine. Prior to the arrival of the colonists in North America, it is alleged that dandelions were non-existent; a few years later, however, they were firmly established. European immigrants coming to North America brought along the cultural and culinary traditions of dandelion usage with them.

Dandelion leaves and roots have been used historically for acne and eczema; compromised digestion and gastrointestinal complaints; kidney, liver and gallbladder disorders; arthritis and gout; high cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension; and stomach complaints and cancer. The herb has long been renowned for its diuretic, stomachic, choleretic and cholagogic (bile flow-enhancing), and laxative properties.

* Beyond Folk Medicine *

Undoubtedly, a great deal of wisdom can be obtained from studying the healing traditions of diverse cultures, and it is arrogant and short-sighted to discard centuries of medical practice. Nevertheless, in the modern age of placebo-controlled clinical trials published in peer-reviewed medical journals, examining the latest studies gives us a clearer picture of how the plants around us are best used medicinally. This also helps us “weed out” any particular health indications for which certain folk remedies may not be best suited. After all, a quick perusal online can yield a staggering list of potential health benefits for any one herb. A little fine-tuning is in order. While the following scientific summary lacks human-based research results that would satisfy most skeptical minds, the results are extremely promising and dandelion research in general is still in its infancy.

Dandelion has earned a reputation as an effective diuretic over years of medicinal usage in many cultures, and this seems to be scientifically well founded: dandelion’s diuretic actions were comparable to furosemide over a 30-day period in a study on mice. In fact, the accompanying potassium loss associated with many powerful loop diuretic drugs is non-existent when dandelion leaf is used.1

In a questionnaire of nearly 700 herbalists during an Italian seminar in 2001, dandelion was among the top ten herbs frequently recommended for diabetes. The use of dandelion as an anti-diabetic herb may also have scientific merit: the herb demonstrated hyperglycemic activity in animal studies as the inulin content of dandelion seems to prevent the spiking of blood glucose levels as a result of buffering fructose chains.2

In a 2005 study, dandelion was shown to have protective effects against acute pancreatitis in rats.3

The European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy (ESCOP) endorses the use of dandelion root for ‘restoration of hepatic and biliary function, dyspepsia (indigestion), and loss of appetite.’ The German Commission E recommends dandelion root (in combination with other ingredients) for its diuretic actions, for dyspepsia, for biliary abnormalities, and for use as an appetite stimulant. Modern naturopathic doctors and herbalists frequently prescribe dandelion as a detoxifier of the liver and gall bladder.

* Under the Microscope *

Bitter glycosides, tannins, triterpenes, sterols, volatile oil, choline, asparagin, and inulin within the root are believed to be responsible for the choleretic (biliary), digestive, hypoglycemic, and hepatic effects of the herb. Dandelion is a rich source of minerals including potassium, sodium, calcium, phosphorus and iron, with the additional presence of vitamins B, C, and D. The generous quantities of potassium in the leaves counteract the potassium loss that may result from its diuretic action – nature thinks of everything! The leaves contain roughly as much vitamin A as spinach, carrots, or kale, which is quite a lot – not as much as beef liver, but still quite significant!

* Safety First *

Dandelion preparations have been well tolerated in the available studies with only very mild reactions rarely reported. According to some sources, the coumarins in dandelion may increase the risk of bleeding when supplementing concurrently with blood thinners and anti-platelet drugs. The diuretic action of dandelion may dangerously compound the effects of diuretic drugs. Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner first.

People with known allergies to plants of the aster family should avoid dandelion preparations. Other herbs like chrysanthemums, yarrow, and feverfew are all members of the same family. Dermatitis, rashes, or skin irritation on contact with these plants are a good indication that you may have an allergy. Those with fluid retention, stomach ulcers, or gallstones should consult a qualified healthcare practitioner before taking dandelion products.

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