Dandelion is bold and persistent, the strength of this plant is undeniable. It’s one of the first plants of the spring, and makes itself comfortable anywhere and everywhere.
Dandelion is a liver tonic, stimulating flow of bile from the gallbladder and liver. It is an excellent detoxing aid, and I often recommend it as part of a spring detox regimen. Studies have shown dandelion can lower cholesterol and reverse certain forms of liver disease such as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (1, 2) . The root acts as a cooling digestive tonic and contains inulin- a prebiotic fiber that aids in digestion. This plant is also used in traditional Chinese medicine during instances when there is heat in the liver. It is classified as energetically sweet, drying, and cooling.
Dandelion leaves are a strong diuretic and nutrient packed- high in vitamins K, A and C, and contain iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium. When compared to spinach, dandelion leaves have 8x more antioxidants!
You can harvest dandelion from your yard as long as it hasn’t been treated with chemicals. Everything from flower down to roots can be used medicinally. Most health food stores sell fresh dandelion greens, teas, and even roasted dandelion coffee alternatives (not for me, I like my coffee too much).
As a tea, dandelion leaves and root are one of my favorites- a great morning tea to help digestion and get the day going. I also like to add fresh dandelion greens to salads and soups. You’ll find the addition of a few leaves goes a long way. The younger leaves are less bitter and more palatable. Full grown leaves are still ok to eat, but if the bitterness is too much for you, try lightly cooking to cut the bitter quality.
Over the last ten years of practicing herbal medicine, one of things that I’ve been drawn to is exploring each plant’s individual essence or spirit as some call it. This has allowed me to build a certain reverence for each plant as a complex character and a powerful medicine for mind and body.
The plant spirit of dandelion reminds us that we can make it work, to adapt and persevere while remaining deeply rooted and honoring our intuition. Dandelion helps build a genuine sense of optimism to walk through life with. Maia Toll describes dandelion as a deeply rooted optimist who knows that “happiness is an inner landscape and has little to do with where you are planted.” She writes, “when you’re ready to make your own joy-whatever life throws at you- call on dandelion (3).” Makes you rethink dandelion as more than just a weed, doesn’t it?
Be careful if you have severe allergies to ragweed, as you could also be sensitive to dandelion since both are in the same plant family Asteraceae. Always consult with your doctor before adding in any medicinal herbs to be sure they’re right for you!
Hypolipidemic and Antioxidant Effects of Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale) Root and Leaf on Cholesterol-Fed RabbitsChoi UK;Lee OH;Yim JH;Cho CW;Rhee YK;Lim SI;Kim YC;
(2)Dandelion Leaf Extract Protects Against Liver Injury Induced by Methionine- And Choline-Deficient Diet in MiceDavaatseren M;Hur HJ;Yang HJ;Hwang JT;Park JH;Kim HJ;Kim MS;Kim MJ;Kwon DY;Sung MJ; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23256442/
(3) “Dandelion. Taraxacum Officinale.” The Illustrated Herbiary: Guidance and Rituals from 36 Bewitching Botanicals, by Maia Toll and Kate O'Hara, Storey Publishing, 2018.
Dr. Sylvia Cimoch is a board certified naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist with offices in Fairfield County Connecticut. She practices holistic medicine with the goal of empowering her patients to be the best and healthiest versions of themselves.