Dandelions are viewed as a pesky weed to be pulled, sprayed or somehow destroyed. Little children love to pick them once they've gone to seed and blow the seed puffs, watching the seeds float in the air. Most people never stop and think that there is any good use for a dandelion.
To be honest, no studies have been done to back up the claims that most natural practitioners make regarding the health benefits of dandelions. The nutritional value has been corroborated, and it is commonly used as a coffee substitute. Beyond that, no one really knows if the rest really works. The good news is that dandelion is considered safe to take unless you have an allergy to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigold, chamomile, yarrow, daisies or iodine.
1. Nutrition. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMM), dandelions are an excellent source of vitamins A, B, C and D. They are also high in iron, potassium and zinc, so adding the leaves to a salad ups the nutritional value of your salad.
2. Coffee substitute. For those who love coffee, but can't drink it, UMM says that dandelion root is a commonly used coffee substitute. The Hallmark Channel recommends using 1 tablespoon roasted, granulated chicory root; 1 tablespoon roasted, granulated dandelion root; and 32 to 35 ounces of boiling water. Put it in a French press to make your "coffee." If you can't get roasted roots, you can make your "coffee" with unroasted roots, but the roasting is supposed to make the "coffee" taste richer.
3. Diuretic. The Mayo Clinic states that dandelion has been used as a diuretic in the herbal world for a long time. Before taking any herbal remedies, you want to check with your doctor as these can interact with other medications. Wellness Mama makes iced dandelion tea from 1 quart fresh dandelion flowers (gently washed), 3 quarts cold water, 1 cup hot water, 3 to 4 limes (juiced) and 2 to 3 tablespoons honey or sugar. In a gallon jug, dissolve the sweetener in the warm water. Add the juice from the limes and the cold water. Add the dandelions and stir gently. Place in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours before serving.
4. Laxative. Dandelions are supposed to be a gentle laxative. Livestrong.com makes a laxative tea from 1 tablespoon chopped dandelion root boiled in 8 ounces of water for 10 minutes. Strain the root out and add 3 cups of water.
5. Normalize blood sugar. Dandelion is also supposed to help regulate blood sugar while equalizing cholesterol. Herbal supplements can be taken, but check with your doctor before starting them.
6. Stimulate appetite. For those who suffer from loss of appetite, UMM says that dandelion has been used to stimulate the appetite. Natural Homeremdies.org says to simmer dandelion root in water for several minutes and drink the tea 3 times a day.
Before taking dandelion for medicinal value, check with your doctor. If your doctor approves, though, you may find that dandelion is no longer a weed to you, but a wonderful medicine instead.