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Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): More Than Just a Weed

Posted on October 15, 2021 0

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): More Than Just a Weed

By Marie Olson, RWP, FNTP, CA

Dandelion, from the genus Taraxacum, is a perennial flowering plant from the family Asteraceae. It is native to Eurasia and North America. The two most common species are Taraxacum officinale and Taraxacum erythrospermum, which were introduced from Europe, and now grow wild. They are edible from root to tip. The common English name is derived from French: Dent-de-lion, or “lion’s tooth.”[1]

Many are familiar with the bright yellow flowers of the dandelion. They often cause distress to those trying to maintain their lawn when the flower transitions into the downy seeds that then fly over the yard and plant themselves in what was once a pristine green sea of grass.

But did you know that dandelions are actually very special? Firstly, they are the symbol of military children everywhere – resilient, hardy, unpretentious. April is recognized as the Month of the Military Child each year.

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The Official Flower of the Military Child is the Dandelion. Why?

Dandelions put down roots almost anywhere and it’s almost impossible to destroy. It’s an unpretentious plant, yet good looking. It’s a survivor in a broad range of climates.

Military children bloom everywhere the winds carry them. They are hardy and upright. Their roots are strong, cultivated deeply in the culture of the Armed Services…planted swiftly and surely. They’re ready to fly in the breezes that take them to new adventures, new lands, and new friends.

Military children are well-rounded, culturally aware, tolerant, and extremely resilient. They have learned from an early age that home is where their hearts are, that a good friend can be found in every corner of the world.

They learn that to survive means to adapt, that the door that closes one chapter of their life opens up a new and exciting adventure full of new friends and new experiences.

Author Unknown

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Dandelions are high in phytonutrients, and are also an excellent source of Vitamins A, C and K, and minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and manganese.[2,3] Dandelions are the highest in lecithin of all the plant sources and depending on which part of the plant you use, it can have varying effects on the organs of the body.[3]

The flowers and leaves can be used in salads, or used in cooking, and the roots are delicious in a tea, which can also be a great substitute for coffee!

According to Kathryn Higgins, the best way to make tea is by drying the root and roasting it slowly until brown (about four hours). Then grind it, simmer it for ten minutes, and enjoy! It is similar to coffee, but without the caffeine.[4]

Dandelion can help to reduce high cholesterol. It is also supportive to the liver, kidneys, gallbladder and bladder. It is a diuretic and can also be helpful for indigestion.[3]

Versatile, nutritious and readily available, dandelion leaves are bitter, while the roots are nutty and earthy in flavor. They provide a plethora of vitamins and minerals, are easy to come by, and the roots can be stored upon harvesting for up to a year.

When was the last time you foraged for this plant that is likely growing in your yard right now?*

*Editor’s Note: Only forage weeds which you know are unsprayed and are free from chemicals and pesticides. In addition, be 100% sure you can identify the plant correctly.

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Roasted Dandelion Root Tea Recipe

By Sharon Falsetto, Chief Editor

Roasted dandelion root tea is a good substitute for coffee!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp. dried, roasted dandelion root
  • 8-oz. water

To Roast the Roots: Wash and dry fresh roots. Place on tray in the oven at 325 degrees F. Once browned and cooled, grind the roasted roots in a coffee grinder.*

To Make the Tea: Add the water to a small pan and heat up on the stove top. When the water is boiling, add the roasted dandelion root and cover and simmer for twenty minutes. Take off the heat and strain the root from the tea.

To Use: Add the finished decoction (tea) to your favorite teacup, drink, and enjoy!

Cautions: For adult use only. Do not exceed recommended amount per day. Diuretic. Possible laxative if drunk in large amounts.

*Reference: Blankespoor, Juliet, Herbal Immersion Course Workbook, Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine

References

  1. “Taraxacum.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, accessed from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taraxacum
  2.  Osborne, Tegan. “Ten Backyard Weeds You Can Actually Eat.” ABC News, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 12 May 2016, accessed from: www.abc.net.au/news/health/2016-05-12/edible-weeds-and-how-you-can-use-them/7406004
  3. Crocker, Pat, 1999, The Healing Herbs Cookbook: Dandelion Taraxacum Officinale, US: Robert Rose, pp. 16–17.
  4. Higgins, Kathryn, 1996, Pocket Guide to Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants: Dandelion, US: Motherlove Herbal Co.

About Marie Olson:

After several years of working as a Special Investigator, Marie went back to school to become a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (FNTP). She always had an interest in natural medicine, holistic health, and how things work, and felt called to learn more about foundational holistic nutrition. A friend of hers introduced her to essential oils while she was studying to be an FNTP, and she sought out quality education to learn more, and happily came across Aromahead Institute School of Essential Oil Studies. She took her first aromatherapy class sometime in 2015.

After completing FNTP training, she opened a private practice and taught Culinary Nutrition at the Culinary Institute of Virginia, where she discovered that teaching was a passion of hers! Additionally, in her private practice, she combined her investigation skills with her nutrition and teaching passions, and helped people get to the root cause of their digestive and health issues. She continued taking classes at Aromahead and become the first Certified Aromatherapist in Guam in 2018. She currently resides in Delaware. Essential oils are a perfect complement to her nutrition practice, and she loves custom making products to serve her clients’ needs! Marie is the NAHA Regional Director for Delaware. You can learn more about Marie at: www.NutriSimplicity.com.

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