Summer memories of my youth are filled with dandelions – I was given a 10 cents allowance for digging up dandelions and throwing them in the compost, but when no one was looking I was weaving faerie crowns with golden blossoms, writing secret messages on the sidewalk with the transparent milky sap, and whispering wishes to the wind as I watched the feathery seeds float away.
Wildcrafting dandelion in the warm summer sun brings back all of those delectable moments with carefree, prolific and joyful dandelion. But her qualities go far beyond a trip down memory lane: her flowers, leaves, roots and even her milky sap are deeply nourishing and profoundly medicinal.
The first thing to remember dandelion for is liver ailments. Hot, disturbed, inflamed or slow and overburdened, the liver will benefit immensely from eating the leaves, raw or cooked, and from decoctions and tinctures made from the root. Foster and Hobbs cite it’s historical use in treating “liver diseases and jaundice, and to stimulate bile flow.” (Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs, 2002, pg. 45)
Taraxacum Officinalis is hailed as “Dr. Dandelion” in the 1989 classic Healing Wise by Susan Weed. She reminds us that every part of the plant is edible, containing high concentrations of vitamins A and C, as well as readily available potassium, calcium, iron and B vitamins.
Dandelion leaf and root is a natural laxative, aiding elimination and supporting kidney function as well. She is also known for purifying the blood, and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.
The sap is used to reduce warts and pimples, but care should be taken as the sap contains latex, which can irritate the skin or stimulate an allergic reaction.
And what about the bright, yellow blossoms? A delectable delicacy! Fresh picked, they are a colorful addition to salads and stir-fry’s. I’ve also heard of battered and fried blossoms being relished on a regular basis. My personal favorite recipe, however, is for Dandelion Blossom Syrup. Made from freshly infused blossoms in Rocky Mountain spring water, organic cane sugar and a couple slices of organic lemon, it tastes just like honey! (Thank you Susan Weed for the inspiration!) My dandelion blossom syrup has been added to sweeten coffee and tea, drizzled on top of goat’s milk yogurt, stirred into oatmeal and even included in a summery vinaigrette! Oh yeah, and don’t forget the medicinal benefits of dandelion blossoms, however you enjoy them: relief from fatigue, depression, nausea, backache and cramps. (Sorry, folks, my Dandelion Blossom Syrup is SOLD OUT for the season – pre-order now for next June’s first batch!)
As always, and especially with common weeds, it is so important to avoid harvesting by the roadside or along railroad tracks, as plants growing in these areas contain high concentrations of lead and other toxic chemicals. My wildcrafted herbs are always sourced from the Homestead and the pristine wilderness of the Rocky Mountains where we live. But if you fresh dandelions all summer long, you may even try cultivating some of your own delectable, highly nutritious and profoundly medicinal dandelions in your own garden!