- Alternative & Natural Medicine
How to Use Medicinal Herbs: Dandelion
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- Healing Herbs: Dandelion
Discover the natural healing potential of the dandelion.
If you have long thought of the dandelion as a common garden nuisance, you may want to rethink your stance. This plant's main action is as a potent diuretic. In fact, it is so powerful that dandelion plants were once referred to, in a tongue-in-cheek manner, as "Wet The Beds." In addition, these bright, cheerful little plants have a surprising amount of nutritional benefits, and are often used to treat a variety of ailments, from bone fractures to warts. With its many healthful properties, it is no surprise to find that practically every part of this plant is used to create easy-to-use supplements, revitalizing drinks, and delicious recipes.
Dandelion as a Supplement
Pill form dandelion supplements are easy to find in just about any health food store, and are even easier to find online. Although you may sometimes find supplements that include the actual flower head, most focus on either the roots or the greens. Given the relative scarcity of dandelion flower head supplements, you may want to create your own out of inexpensive gel capsules. Alternatively, you can easily make a tincture by placing a few tablespoons of the crushed, dried inflorescences in an airtight jar with about a cup of food grade alcohol.
Dandelion in Liquid Form
Those who study herbalism swear by the use of dandelion tea. When selecting a tea, be certain that the plant used is Taraxacum officinale. Though less common with reputable companies, some tea makers sell something known as Italian dandelion tea. This variety, though tasty and very similar in appearance, is not actually dandelion, but Cichorium intybus, or common chicory. If you live in an area where this plant grows freely, you may actually prefer to make your own. Just be sure to wash your plants thoroughly before use and try to avoid picking plants that are too close to the road, as they may be laden with weed killer chemicals or the toxins that are emitted from car fumes.
Dandelion in Homemade Beauty Concoctions
In addition to general health usage, the dandelion has long been thought of as something of beauty herb. It is easy to see why, as it is often utilized in the treatment of hair loss and dandruff, acne and skin discoloration. To use this plant for homemade beauty remedies, you can either use a tea, a tincture, or a decoction. For a decoction, simply place the dried flower head in the bottom of a pot, pour a few cups of cold water over the top, then let the liquid simmer for a half hour or until the water level has gone down by about a third. Any of these liquids can massaged directly into the skin or scalp, placed into a shampoo, or made into a lotion.
Dandelion in Recipes
Dandelions are most commonly placed in salads and wines; however, these versatile little plants can also be sauteed, made into soups or jellies, or baked into pastries. If you have never dreamed of cooking with dandelions, why not give this delectable recipe a try:
Dandelion Flower Sugar Cookies
1/2 cup dandelion flower heads
1 cup of softened butter or margarine
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 egg whites, or 1 whole egg
1 tablespoon of organic honey
1 and 1/2 cups of white or brown sugar
2 and 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1. Pick and thoroughly wash about a 1/2 cup worth of dandelion flower heads. Separate the small, yellow petals from the greenery. Save the petals, but discard the foliage.
2. Mix the flower petals with the honey, then set aside.
3. Mix flour with baking powder and soda.
4. In a separate bowl, thoroughly mix sugar with butter until the mixture is creamy. Once this concoction is the right consistency, beat in eggs, vanilla, and the honey/flower mixture.
5. Blend the creamy mixture with the dry ingredients until everything is well mingled.
6. Roll your cookie dough into small balls, place onto ungreased baking sheets, and bake your cookies for about 10 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees.
One of the neatest things about making dandelion sugar cookies is that you can really create a theme. For instance, you could model the shape of the cookies after the flower heads, or decorate the cookies with bright yellow and green frosting.