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How to Use Dandelions as Food, Tea and Natural Medicine

Updated on December 6, 2018
ChristinS profile image

Christin is a natural health and wellness advocate with 20 years' of experience studying and working in the health and supplement industry.

Dandelions are not weeds! They are medicine!
Dandelions are not weeds! They are medicine! | Source

Dandelions are considered a nuisance by many. People spend a lot of money to spray poisons all over the ground to kill such “pests”, but dandelions really don't deserve the bad press, in fact they are amazing for your health. We should use them rather than poison them – and ourselves, in the process.

Dandelions are so healthy, they are sold in health food stores in the form of teas and capsules. If you live in an area where they grow in abundance, you can get a potent natural medicine and health tonic for free just by pulling weeds!

Every part of a dandelion can be used. The roots, foliage and flowers are all edible. In fact, they've been used for centuries to treat a variety of conditions, particularly of the kidneys and liver. They increase bile production and act as a diuretic, helping cleanse the body naturally.

Dandelions are an amazing source of nutrients, containing protein, fiber, many phytonutrients, fatty acids, iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium. They are also rich sources Vitamins A, C , D and K.

How to Use Dandelion Greens

Dandelion greens from young plants can be eaten raw in salads. They should be harvested before flowering begins. Once the flowers have emerged the greens can still be used, but should be steamed or boiled instead for best flavor. The older the plant, the more bitter the greens become.

Once you harvest the plants, cut the foliage away from the root. You can use the roots later for tea. Clear the leaves all together and don't pull of individual leaves. Trim the tougher stalky part at the bottom and then cut the remainder of the leaves into 2 inch sections. Light steam in a steamer basket until tender (approx 10 minutes).

Alternatively, you can chop them up and stir fry them in a couple of tablespoons of olive or sesame oil, garlic, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes if you want to add some spice.

Harvest and Prepare Dandelion Roots

Dandelion roots often run deep into the ground. They can be a little hard to pull out of soil that is packed tight. Harvesting after it rains can make them a little easier to pull out. When you harvest them, grab the plant with one hand and take a knife or the edge of a hand spade around the other side to loosen the soil and then pull them free. Sometimes they come right out, other times some of the roots break off.

Once you have the plants pulled, remove the tops of the plants and the stringy parts around the roots. Soak the roots in water for several minutes to loosen any additional dirt. Rinse again until they are clean and then chop them into very small ¼ to ½ inch pieces.

Place the chopped roots on a cookie sheet and roast at 200 for about an hour to dry the roots fully. They will shrink a lot in this process. When they are finished drying, place them in an airtight jar and use them for tea.

Add a tablespoon of dried root to a pot of boiling water and steep for 5 minutes or longer. Strain, add honey or a bit of cinnamon and enjoy. The longer dandelion tea steeps the more bitter it can become.

**Did You Know? **

Many people use Dandelions for wine making? It's true - dandelion wine has a very unique, distinct flavor. Try finding someone who makes it or buy a bottle for an interesting experience. My great uncle used to make it and I remember it from when I was growing up :)

Eating Dandelion Flowers

Dandelion flowers can also be cooked and eaten. They have a sweeter flavor than the the slightly bitter greens. Dandelion flowers should be eaten immediately after harvest. Cook them or sprinkle the petals on soups or salads.

Dandelion flowers get their pretty sunshiny color from beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A supports a healthy immune system and is great for healthy vision.

Dandelion Health Benefits

  • Liver Health: Dandelion promotes a healthy liver, helping it function efficiently and effectively. Dandelion regulates and maintains the proper flow of bile and helps flush fatty buildup and toxins from the liver.

  • Kidney Health: Dandelion is a natural diuretic that helps prevent renal problems by flushing the kidneys. It clears deposits of toxic substances, including uric acid, from the entire urinary system. It is a natural disinfectant and inhibits the growth of microbes that cause urinary tract infection. Dandelion tea can be a great remedy for those with kidney stones.

  • Bone Health: Dandelions are an excellent source of calcium and magnesium. They are also loaded with anti-oxidants that protect the bones from damage and loss of density.

  • Weight Loss: Dandelion tea is said to be good for weight loss for a couple of reasons. It flushes toxins and excess fats out of the liver, allowing the liver to function properly which in turn leads to the easier release of excess body fat. In addition, the natural diuretic effect helps flush fat and toxins through the kidneys.

  • Cancer Prevention: Dandelion is loaded with antioxidants that neutralize free radicals that can cause cancer. The antioxidants, combined with its detoxing action are a great natural cancer preventative.

Nutrition Information (1 cup)

Nutrient
Percent Daily Value (DV)
1.5 grams Protein
3% DV
1.9g Dietary Fiber
8%
Vitamin A
112%
Vitamin C
32%
Vitamin E
9%
Vitamin K
535%
Thiamin
7%
Riboflavin
8%
Vitamin B6
7%
Folate
4%
Calcium
10%
Iron
9%
Magnesium
5%
Phosphorous
4%
Potassium
6%
Copper
5%
Manganese
9%
One cup of Dandelions has 24.7 Calories Look at ALL of those nutrients in just one little cup!

*Warning*

Never harvest or eat dandelions from areas that have had pesticides/herbicides used or they will make you sick.

Dandelion Supplement

Unsure about using dandelions in your area? Perhaps you live in an area where pesticides are used prevalently, or you just don't like the idea of harvesting and cooking them or making tea. Fortunately, there are supplements available that provide many of the same benefits as eating them fresh. Nature's Way has a very reasonably priced dandelion product in capsule form.

Have you ever eaten a weed?

See results

© 2013 Christin Sander

Comments

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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      When we had a 1/2 acre lot in Wisconsin years ago and did not use pesticides, we used to eat our dandelions. Reading this brought back those memories. Nice!

    • ChristinS profile imageAUTHOR

      Christin Sander 

      3 months ago from Midwest

      It's definitely a powerful herbal remedy. Thanks for sharing your experience with it Emmanuel

    • profile image

      Emmanuel anani 

      3 months ago

      yeah I am an African and the dandelion has helped me a lot so I am really using it to cure all the micro organisms in my system

    • ChristinS profile imageAUTHOR

      Christin Sander 

      4 years ago from Midwest

      Sure thing Jodah, that would be awesome thank you :) I'll be sure to check out your hub as well.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      This is a wonderful hub ChristinS, I knew dandelions were full of nutrients and that all parts were edible but have only tried the leaves as a salad vegetable so far. We have quite a few growing so I need to harvest some and boil the leaves and dry some roots for tea. I have written a hub about companion planting and another on self-sufficiency. I would love to add a link to this hub on them if you don't mind. Voted up.

    • ChristinS profile imageAUTHOR

      Christin Sander 

      4 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks J.S.

      Just be careful if there has been herbicide run off or anything that may have poisoned them on your property. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy them :)

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 

      4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Wow, I have heard of Dandelions used for tea, salad and even wine, but I never thought much of it. Seeing all the benefits you have provided here I am likely to try them in my next salad and or tea!

      As a Southern New Englander, I have them plentiful in my own yard and I know a lot of people near me who are using the chemicals to rid their yards of this "weed". Voted up and sharing. Well done and looking forward to working with the dandelions!

      JSMatthew~

    • Lee Tea profile image

      Lee Tea 

      4 years ago from Erie, PA

      woohoo - got the dandelion wine a-brewin in the basement right now! :)

    • profile image

      SandCastles 

      4 years ago

      I do like the look of dandelions and I love the name. Good Hub!

    • SANJAY LAKHANPAL profile image

      Sanjay Sharma 

      4 years ago from Mandi (HP) India

      Thanks for sharing this information.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 

      4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Christin...A whole lot of Dandelion consumption in my background. My Sicilian Grandmother picked & cleaned it by the bushel. We ate it in various ways....cold as salad greens, cooked with olive oil & garlic (like spinach) and she would also make a vegetable omelet, using dandelion!

      Yes, it has a long list of great health benefits.....and yes we need to be cautious where we find it and dig it up.....and as usual, you have covered every fact of interest...simply perfectly.

      I just acquired a taste for a dandelion salad!....Peace...UP++++

    • Faceless39 profile image

      Kate P 

      5 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      I love dandelions, and consider them one of nature's most intelligent plant designs. And they are edible and very healthy! Thanks for bringing this misunderstood plant back into the spotlight.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      5 years ago from Taos, NM

      Fascinating hub! My great-grandmother used to make dandelion tea and wine and use the 'weed' for other things as well. We used to laugh, but drank the tea and wine. It was delicious. My great-grandmother was originally from Italy but knew a lot about natural medicines. We can laugh, but these treatments were spot on! Thanks for and interesting and informative article.

    • kansasyarn profile image

      Teresa Sanderson 

      5 years ago from Rural Midwest

      We have LOTS of dandelions and are just starting out on a vegan diet. Thanks for all of the great tips! Voted up and shared!

    • My Cook Book profile image

      Dil Vil 

      5 years ago from India

      Excellent and useful hub on Dandelions. I had a good read. Today I've learnt great info about Dandelions. Thank you for an informative read.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for sharing all the interesting information about dandelions. I love this plant. I think the flowers look attractive and I love the fact that the plant is edible!

    • NornsMercy profile image

      Chace 

      5 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      I LOVE dandelions... :D They're not a weed to me!

    • livingsta profile image

      livingsta 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      A very useful and interesting hub. We have loads of dandelions in bloom here right now, as it is spring. I like the pretty flowers and all I have done is photograph them. Maybe I should try eating them too. Thank you for sharing this with us. Votes up and sharing!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      5 years ago from San Francisco

      you have elevated this "weed". Congratulations.

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