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Dandelion Benefits

Updated on February 6, 2015
Spring dandelions in my yard
Spring dandelions in my yard

Benefits of Dandelion

The Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is familiar to most of us, with it's cheery yellow flower head that turns into a puffy sphere of seeds which then float off in the wind. Perhaps you already know that dandelions have culinary and medicinal uses.

But, chances are if you're a lawn-owner, you don't care much about dandelion benefits! Possibly you're much more interested in figuring out how to eradicate these common weeds than in learning about the benefits of dandelions. I hear you!

As children, many of us enjoyed these abundant flowers -- we picked dandelion bouquets for our mother, made wishes as we blew the seeds off the perfect dandelion ball, made chains with the stems, or played "who likes butter" by holding the dandelion flower under someone's chin. But as adults, our sense of responsibility to the upkeep of our lawns and to the neighborhood often changes our feelings toward these lovely yellow dandelions. We don't see them for the useful plants that they can be.

But dandelions also have culinary and medicinal uses and they're free for the picking! Perhaps after reading this, you'll decide that you don't mind if a few of these common dandelions continue to grace your lawn in the spring.

Girl sitting in a dandelion field.
Girl sitting in a dandelion field.


Image above, Girl Sitting in Dandelion Field on Allposters.com

Dandelions
Dandelions

Dandelion: Medicinal Herb or Common Weed?

Taraxacum officinale

The official name of the Common Dandelion is Taraxacum officinale. Taraxacum is derived from the Greek taraxos meaning "disorder", and akos meaning "remedy". Officinale refers to it being used medicinally.

So, dandelion is definitely a medicinal herb.

But it also grows where we don't want it to grow -- it's a hardy plant that can easily crowd out grass in our yards or vegetables and flowers in our gardens. So yes it's also a weed.

A couple of interesting definitions for "weed":

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson said a weed is "a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered".
  • Peter Gail (ethnobotanist at Goosefoot Acres, Inc) has said, "A weed is a plant for which we once knew the use but we've forgotten it."
I like both definitions, especially the last. We've forgotten that dandelion has remarkable health and nutrition benefits. Or maybe we know, but we aren't interested, or don't have the time to harvest and prepare the plants ourselves.

Andt I do agree that there can be too much of a good thing, especially when it comes to dandelion growth! (You should see our lawn -- very pretty with all the yellow dandelions in the spring....)

Photo from Pixabay, CC0 1.0 (Public domain)

Dandelion wallpaper
Dandelion wallpaper

"If dandelions were hard to grow, they would be most welcome on any lawn."

- Andrew V. Mason

Image from Asadal Design: Free Wallpaper Downloads

Dandelion Benefits Your Health

Dandelion nutrition and health facts

Dandelion leaves, roots, and flowers are nutritious and they help tone our internal organs.

Dandelion leaves are packed with vitamins and minerals: They have higher levels of beta-carotene than carrots, they're high in the various vitamin B's, and in vitamins C,E, and D. They're great sources for iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc.

Dandelion root is a safe and popular herbal remedy. The decoction ( involves mashing and boiling in water to extract the medicinal substances) is a traditional tonic that strengthens the liver and gall bladder. It can help get rid of gall stones, and it's good for chronic hepatitis and jaundice. It helps indigestion if there's insufficient bile.

Dandelion root or leaf tea act as a gentle diuretic -- the modern French name is pissenlit, meaning "piss in bed", referring to its diuretic properties. The tea helps the kidneys more efficiently cleanse the blood and recycle nutrients. From improved kidney function comes clearer skin and improved health overall.

Dandelion root is also used as an appetite stimulant and a digestive aid. The bitterness of the dandelion makes it a good herb for stimulating these systems. "Wildman" Steve Brill says dandelion is "recommended for stressed-out, internally sluggish, and sedentary people. Anyone who's a victim of excessive fat, white flour, and concentrated sweeteners could benefit from a daily cup of dandelion tea."

The milky sap of dandelion leaves may be good for removing warts, and clears up pimples, and it soothes bee stings.

Some people are allergic to dandelions -- if you're allergic to ragweed, marigold, daisies, and similar plants, be careful with dandelions.

Stalking Wild Greens: Dandelion (Video)

The narrator says dandelion should be considered a sustainable food source, and he lists what health issues dandelion can be used for.

He also shows how to make a dandelion pesto. Mmm, looks good!

Dandelion leaf salad
Dandelion leaf salad

Eating Dandelions

Leaves, roots, and flowers

Harvest your dandelion leaves early in the spring before they become bitter, or after the first frost, when the bitterness disappears. You may also be able to find dandelion greens in some supermarkets or at a farmers' market.

The simplest way to enjoy your dandelion leaves is to throw a few in with your regular lettuce and greens salad.

You can also sauté dandelion greens with onion and garlic in olive oil. "Wildman" Steve Brill suggests adding sweet vegetables such as carrots or parsnips if the dandelion bitterness bothers you. Here's another simple recipe for dandelion greens. You can use dandelion leaves in any recipe that calls for other greens.

You can also eat the dandelion flower. One recipe I found for the flower is Dandelion fritters

The taproot is best from late fall to early spring. It can be used in soups and stews. Sweet vegetables also go well with the root, to offset the bitterness. It can also be roasted and ground and used as a coffee substitute.

Also check out Dandelion and Burdock Soda.

Creative Commons photo by chiotsrun

Traditional Medicinals Organic Roasted Dandelion Root Tea, 16 Tea Bags (Pack of 6)
Traditional Medicinals Organic Roasted Dandelion Root Tea, 16 Tea Bags (Pack of 6)

Dandelion root tea is used to improve the functioning of the liver, kidneys, and gall bladder. It also is a way to help detox the body, by increasing urination, and it is a good blood purifier.

 

"Wildman" Steve Brill on Dandelions - Entertaining video

This video includes a funny, funny story of how Steve Brill was arrested in Central Park for eating a dandelion during a foraging tour he was leading.

The Teeth of the Lion - by Anita Sanchez

The Teeth of the Lion: The Story of the Beloved and Despised Dandelion
The Teeth of the Lion: The Story of the Beloved and Despised Dandelion

This book tells the story of the dandelion. The name "dandelion" comes from the French "dent de lion", meaning "lion's tooth", referring to the sharp, jagged, deeply toothed leaves.

The author uses short essays to tell us about the natural history of the dandelion, and how it's been used as food, medicine, and in rituals and folklore.

 

Edible and Medicinal Plants - "Wildman" Steve Brill

Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places
Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places

This book shows readers how to find and prepare more than 500 plants for better nutrition and health. There are line drawings of the plants to help the reader identify many plants. He includes a number of recipes for these plants.

 

Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health - by Rosemary Gladstar

Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family
Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family

People call Rosemary Gladstar the mother of modern herbalism. This book is her i"practical compendium of herbal know-how."

She lists herbal remedies for use by all members of the family, gives detailed information about a number of herbs, and how to prepare certain remedies from scratch.

 

I'd love to hear from you!

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    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 4 years ago from U.S.

      @Lorelei Cohen: It's such a cheery-looking flower, and I like seeing it too. Unfortunately I don't think we'll see dandelions anytime soon here, given all the snow we've had this winter.

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 4 years ago from U.S.

      @Zola Mars: I'm also addicted to my caffeine, especially in coffee :-) But I've also enjoyed the taste of roast dandelion root the few times I've had it. I wouldn't give up coffee though!

    • Zola Mars profile image

      Lydia Workman 4 years ago from Canada

      I was thinking of giving up coffee by making my own dandelion root coffee substitute. I have heard that you mere roast the root. Then you can grind it up and drink it in place of coffee. I haven't done this. I think I'm too addicted to my caffeine.

    • Lorelei Cohen profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      I so respect the early spring dandelion and sure wish that people would not try to hard to eradicate it. To me they are much like the wild daisy which grows so proficiently during its life phase.

    • TapIn2U profile image

      TapIn2U 4 years ago

      Some see a weed but I see possibilities! Great healthy ideas and information! Fantastic lens! Sundae ;-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I have to try this!

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 5 years ago from U.S.

      @anonymous: Thank you so much for your comment on how Greeks eat dandelions! I was interested to hear that the dandelion was an important part of the diet during the Nazi occupation.

      I've often heard that younger dandelion greens are less bitter, but I may try some now with your method of boiling them for longer, then add lemon, salt, and olive oil. That sounds quite good!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Eating boiled dandelions have been something Greeks have done until this day. In fact, if it were not for the dandelion green, more Greeks would have starved to death during the brutal nazi occupation. Greeks boil the dandelion greens for a long time, which gets rid of the bitterness. They then drain them, and some people leave them the way they are, and others prefer to chop them up a bit (I like to chop them up into bite sized pieces). They then douse them with lots of freshly squeezed lemon juice, a little sea salt, and some extra virgin olive oil. They are actually quite delicious this way, although definitely an acquired taste for those who don't regularly enjoy the taste of fresh vegetables. Their health qualities are renowned in Greece, and a diet of eating them daily, as they do in Greece, will not only keep you healthy but help you lose weight. They are so beloved in Greece, that although a poor man's dish, there isn't a traditional restaurant there that doesn't have them on their menu! In Greece, they also drink the water in which the green has been boiled, again with some freshly squeezed lemon juice for its health benefits.

    • Einar A profile image

      Einar A 6 years ago

      Excellent article on the many uses of the dandelion! I love the cheerful little plants, and in a town near where I live they have a "Dandelion Day" every summer, just to honor them and their many uses.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I've come across articles about dandelion twice this week. I may have to do my own study of this hardy little plant.

    • empathzone profile image

      empathzone 6 years ago

      Hi, I loved this lens! I just featured it one of my lenses: https://hubpages.com/health/health-benefits-of-dan...

    • Snakesmom profile image

      Snakesmom 6 years ago

      What a cool dandelion lens, nice work!

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 6 years ago from Michigan

      I've had roasted dandelion root tea which has a pleasant tastel. And when I still had a backyard, I occasionally would sauté a mess of the tender little buds near the base of the stem in olive oil. Quite tasty!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      Dandelions are also one of the bees earliest food sources which makes them vitally important for pollinators. I love the dandelion and urge everyone to move away from pesticide use on them.

    • profile image

      StaCslns 6 years ago

      I will be trying some greens this spring! Wow, great lens!

    • profile image

      PlacentaRecipes 6 years ago

      Nice article. I made dandelion wine last summer. Not too bad but not as good as my saki. http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Dandelion-Wine

    • Einar A profile image

      Einar A 6 years ago

      Thanks for all the information on the uses of this great plant! In a town not far from where I live, they have a yearly festival to celebrate the many uses of the dandelion, and the plants are encouraged to grow freely both on town property and in folks' yards. People really should take a look at the bounty that is all around them, and learn how to use it!

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      The video on the fellow being arrested for eating a dandelion was just too cute. What a wonderful little tale.

    • GreenfireWiseWo profile image

      GreenfireWiseWo 6 years ago

      Dandelion is one of my favorites. This was really interesting - thank you.

    • GreenfireWiseWo profile image

      GreenfireWiseWo 6 years ago

      Dandelions - one of my favorite herbs. Thank you for sharing this information.

    • caffimages profile image

      caffimages 7 years ago

      I like this lens. Dandelions are a grwat herb, and so full of sunshine! You can also make dandelion wine, which is a lovely colour.

    • pixelposy profile image

      pixelposy 7 years ago

      Thanks for the memory of playing do you like butter. I forgot all about that childhood game. Too funny. I never knew dandelions had so many other purposes other than to annoy my husband. :)

    • LouiseKirkpatrick profile image

      LouiseKirkpatrick 7 years ago from Berkshire, United Kingdom

      I need to cut my lawn...but after reading this lens, I'm going to pick some dandelion leaves and try them in a salad first :) Blessed by a SquidAngel

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Dandelions,mother natures pride and joy:)

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 7 years ago

      I knew dandelions were used in salads and such but when trying to get them out of my yard, U tend to forget.

      Great lens.

    • profile image

      Pete Schultz 7 years ago

      who knew? interesting stuff, but I still don't like them popping up all over my yard and chojking out my garden.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I have never ever thought of eating dandelions. I would surely do so and also think of growing them.

      I am learning a lot about the herbs, shrubs and the flowers.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I have never ever thought of eating dandelions. I would surely do so and also think of growing them.

      I am learning a lot about the herbs, shrubs and the flowers.

    • profile image

      stevenho128 7 years ago

      I'm inspired. I'll try to grow and enjoy its benefits, thanks.

    • spritequeen lm profile image

      spritequeen lm 7 years ago

      This is cool!! Thanks for sharing!

    • howtocurecancer profile image

      howtocurecancer 7 years ago

      Your lens is perfect. Its good to read all the benefits of dandelion. thanks.

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 7 years ago

      I didn't know you could eat them. Interesting. I wonder how many calories they have...lol

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Dandelion is an amazing plant! Itâs one of the worldâs best survival foods and is an excellent detox. I believe that the true benefits of this common lawn nuisance is going to be revealed in a few short years. Just wait! Roundup will be forced to take the picture off their advertisementsâ¦lol.

    • bconnor11 profile image

      bconnor11 7 years ago

      Interesting lens! I didn't know you could eat dandelions. I must try that one day!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      I loved the pictures! I am a great fan of dandelions and use them in soup. They are rather bitter, os have to be careful about quantity. Lensrolled to my gardening lenses.

    • aquariann profile image

      aquariann 7 years ago

      Fascinating lens! *thumbs-up* I'd heard of dandelions being used as a herbal remedy, but never knew they could be eaten as is.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Well for some reasont the Thumbs-up isn't working, but I did faave this lens after 2 tries. Grrr

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Wow, what a great lens. I knew that you could eat dandelions but haven't really tried them with a meal. I have tasted them and found them bitter and wondered why people would eat them. Didn't know that the bitterness isn't there all the time. I may try them with salad. Thumbs-up!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I've never eaten Dandelions but have read a lot about it's health benefits. I have lensrolled this great lens to my Dandelions lens. I get great pleasure just looking at the dandelion and enjoying the simple things that life has to offer. I also enjoyed this very informative lens. Thank you.

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 7 years ago from Michigan

      This is a GREAT lens. I've had dandelion "coffee" and my brother-in-law made dandelion wine once (not crazy about that...but that probably had more to do with his ability as a winemaker) and I've sauteed the tiny buds in olive oil (pretty good). Only danger of eating dandelion products found in suburbia is the dander that it might've been sprayed. 5 stars for this lens. And thank you very much for visiting my Homeopathy Quiz lens. It's always heartening to find someone who's benefitted from homeopathy.

    • eclecticeducati1 profile image

      eclecticeducati1 7 years ago

      Lots of great information! I am on a quest to help my family's health. I will have to keep this in mind. Thank you!

    • northamerica profile image

      northamerica 7 years ago

      This page is a wealth of information! I have been enjoying wild plants since I was a small child and you have convinced me to try dandelions....if I can avoid being arrested by government thugs.

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 7 years ago from U.S.

      @corinnemwestphal: Country living sounds great :-) I'm amazed at how many possibly "beneficial" weeds there are in our yards and fields!

    • corinnemwestphal profile image

      corinnemwestphal 7 years ago

      Interesting and informative lens! Thanks for this. DH and I are looking to head to country living next year and tips like this are always welcome.

    • NickOng profile image

      NickOng 7 years ago

      hey Kajohu,

      My name is Nicholas and Iâm from Singapore. I am new to squidoo and I've noticed that your lenses are very popular and well-liked by others! Do you have any tips for me in making a great lens? is it possible to share some of your secrets? Haha thanks so much!

      [url=http://www.squidoo.com/top-10-things-to-do-in-hong...] WHAT TO DO Hong Kong [/url]

      [url=http://www.squidoo.com/australia-beaches-australia...] Best Australian Beaches [/url]

    • AngHoo LM profile image

      AngHoo LM 7 years ago

      Hi Kajohu, nice meeting you. Didn't know much about dandelions before reading your lens. Thanks for sharing and you have a nice lens here. I like the "Girl Picking Dandelions" poster a lot. Keep in touch.

      Cheers,

      Ang

    • FlynntheCat1 profile image

      FlynntheCat1 7 years ago

      The problem I always had with dandelions was the smell if you crushed the stem incautiously... :D

    • ndorig008 profile image

      ndorig008 8 years ago

      Outstanding lens! My wife while surfing the 'net recently found out about the health benefits of dandelions and immediately went to a health store and purchased a bundle. I told her she could have just gathered them from our backyard. Funny....

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 8 years ago from U.S.

      @MacPharlain: Your comment made me laugh :-) How right you are!

    • MacPharlain profile image

      MacPharlain 8 years ago

      It's funny that people will spend money to kill dandelions in their yard then go spend more money to buy dandelion leaves in one of those premium salad greens bags at the grocery store. Good lens!

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 8 years ago from Los Angeles

      Another cool lens! Lensrolling this to my Dandelion lens.

    • profile image

      WellnessWiseGuy 8 years ago

      Thanks for the great info on the benefits of dandelions. Well done!

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 8 years ago from Australia

      Very interesting. I had heard about some of the benefits of dandelions before, but I still haven't actually tried any yet.

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 8 years ago from U.S.

      @anonymous: The dandelion "coffee" is interesting, but I do still prefer real coffee!

    • KarenHC profile image
      Author

      Karen 8 years ago from U.S.

      @burgessvillian: Glad you liked the lens :-) I figured I might as well make some use from our dandelion-filled backyard, so they were my muses.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I eat it as salade, but will try as "coffee". Salade is excellent, but let me be honest..i'am not sure about coffee but I'll try it.

    • burgessvillian profile image

      burgessvillian 8 years ago

      This is an awesome lens Kajahu. I give it 5*'s, lens rolled it, and favorited

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