It’s Spring! The snow has melted and the grass is growing. Most likely you have dandelion weeds growing right in the middle of your nice green lawn…Frustrating right?!
What if I told you that dandelions aren’t weeds? What if I told you they are one of the most healing and beneficial herbs this time of year? Would you believe me? Well, it’s true! Before you go dig them up (or heaven forbid spray them down), give me just a moment to educate you so you don’t miss out on what this powerful healing herb has to offer.
Dandelions are usually the very first herb to grow and bloom in early spring. There is a purpose to this. They not only provide much needed pollen for beautiful honey bees, but they provide you with an amazing bitter that will help cleanse and detoxify your liver and entire digestive system. During the colder winter months, most people eat more meat than the warmer months. Also, during the winter months, there are several popular holidays where extremely rich food is eaten, and often way more than is necessary. These things put a strain on the entire body especially the liver. This is where the dandelion comes in.
When it comes to the liver, dandelions help to break down fatty deposits and flush them out of the body. After becoming overloaded and burdened in the winter, the liver needs some help and dandelions are all around you to save the day! Dandelions are a gentle but powerful cleanser. They will gently cleanse and rid the liver of accumulated toxins and chemicals that build up over time. This is extremely important if you take prescription drugs. Dandelion will help eliminate the waste products of these medications so over time they do not harm your liver.
It is not just the liver that dandelions support. The greens help stimulate the production of hydrochloric acid so you can better breakdown and digest your food. Dandelions are also bitter herbs. Bitters stimulate specific enzymes to aid in digestion, produce more bile, and assist in nutrient absorption.
Dandelions are known as a diuretic or an herb that helps the increase and flow of urine. They are great for releasing excess water weight or water retention in the body. This occurs because dandelions are one of the best natural sources of potassium. This herb is also very rich in nutrients such as vitamins A, B complex, and C as well as iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Talk about one of the best natural multivitamins!
Dandelion greens are often the focus of this plant and are used in salads and stir-fry recipes. But don’t overlook or underestimate the actual flower itself. The dandelion flower has been known to help pull you out of the winter blues. Their bright and beautiful golden tops can be eaten in salads, lightly sautéed, or even made into dandelion lemonade.
When harvesting the greens, it is best done in early spring when the leaves are young and tender and before the flower appears. After the flower develops, the leaves become very bitter and not as palatable. These young leaves make a great addition to salads, green smoothies, stir-fry dishes, and a delicious herbal tea. The flowers can be harvested once they open completely simply by popping them off the stem.
When harvesting dandelions, make sure you do not take them from an area that is right next to the road or in an area that has been sprayed with chemicals or has runoff water that comes from an area that is heavily sprayed with chemicals.