By John Immel, www.joyfulbelly.com
February 11th, 2011
reprinted here for STACK vol 1 #2 (if not already subscribed click here)
This is a great article I am sharing with you on the health benefits of the Dandelion. The Dandelion is everywhere in my yard this year so I am sharing this wisdom as I advise you to chummy up to this fabulous plant. While we use it for our own well-being it is worth noting the Dandelion's pollen is commonly thought to have the highest protein content of all flowers and is a wonderful early Spring food source for honey bees. Honey bees need the dandelions to build up their stores and broods in the spring. Have too many of them ??? The best sustainable way to control them (in my opinion) is simply to pull the flower off with your hand. This way those seeds never hatch to blow on breeze! Enjoy the read!!!! (teaser: the second sentence is VERY revealing!)
Dandelion Leaves: The Ayurvedic Perspective
"Dandelion would be a rare plant if people knew its health potential." - Seven Song (herbalist from Ithaca, N.Y.)
Dandelion arrives on the spring scene just when the herb is needed most. Many herbs have this amazing quality - proliferating just when their healthful properties can really make a difference. The inspiring yellow flowers of dandelion celebrate spring's full swing, and the promise of good health in this new cycle.
Maybe dandelion's charm does not strike you - are you pulling them from your garden, or cursing their appearance on your lawn? Then you are missing out on a prized medicinal herb that holds helpfulness in its leaves, roots, and blossoms. The plant is a perfect spring tonic that cleanses the liver and cools the hot nature of Pitta, which is beginning to ascend in springtime.
Dandelion is a cholagogue, clearing the liver and gall bladder while removing cholesterol from the blood. The delightful dandelion holds your hand in the transition from winter to spring to summer, helping to eliminate the heaviness of winter's indulgences, making you light for spring, and also keeping the coming heat of summer from accumulating. The so-called weed also helps to process the environmental toxins that burden our modern civilizations.
This herbal ally's attributes don't stop there. Dandelion root regulates blood sugar levels in diabetics. Its high potassium content makes it a strong diuretic, relieving high blood pressure and the water retention that causes spring sluggishness. Feeling puffed up in the April warmth? Try dandelion leaf tea, or dandelion leaves in your spring salad.
Dandelion is definitely drying; it makes the mouth dry and tingle. It dries the eyes and makes the frontal lobe alert. It aids in digesting a fatty meal. Dandelion is a mild laxative, but should be combined with ginger or cardamom to counteract its cold quality. Be careful and don't be too zealous with this potent food medicine; for instance, too many raw dandelion leaves makes the stomach cold, curbing the appetite.
When most people think of dandelion, they think of pulling this pesky weed out of their manicured lawn. It's the poster child for weeds. This is especially ironic because colonists brought the dandelion to the Americas as an important medicinal plant. Since then, we've lost the knowledge of our ancestors. The bitter spring greens devoured by our forefathers helped them tremendously, and have the potential to bring us all to better health.
Dandelions originally come from Eurasia, the country of Georgia, where they have been enjoyed by humans for at least 3,000 years. Many homeowners are challenged to treasure the furry yellow flowers, to give up weed killers for a season, and to enjoy the wild plants that are nature's plan for green spaces. The nutritional power of dandelions remind people that growing food instead of lawns brings us back to a personal intimacy with the environment and health. The medicine you need is growing right under your feet, the dandelion's sunny petals remind us.
The best things in life are free, and dandelions are no exception. Healthfulness is a consumer impulse for some, but it is important to remember that our needs are fulfilled by the nature all around us. Medicine pops up all around us all of the time. Dandelions grow on the back lawn, and that's the best place to find them. Like many weeds, they are prolific and full of hearty plant wisdom. All people are in danger of ignoring what is around us and shrugging off what seems merely common. When it comes to dandelion, it's important to remember the dignity of common weeds, and the miracle of the relationship between humans and plants.
Grocery store dandelions are great, and dandelion leaves from the farmer's market will work just fine, but go ahead, and stalk the wild dandelions growing in your back yard. They pack a more vital punch. Wild food has to contend with elements, and compete with other plants, while farmed food is coddled, often fed fertilizers, and may be treated with pesticides. Frank Cook (the late herbalist from Asheville, N.C.) would say that the difference between grocery store food and wild food is the difference between a dog and a wolf. Find out how you can go wild!
Eating wild foods brings you closer to the land. When you eat a dandelion, you are communing with the natural world, taking in the strength of thriving plants. You become a part of the land. Eating wild medicinal foods has a potent effect. If you ate 20 dandelion flowers for three days, a part of your brain would be vitalized; perhaps your life would change forever. Who would have thought that these wild and under appreciated plants like dandelion have the vitality to keep us strong and healthy?
Be simple and organic: Find a lovely dandelion flower, get on your hands and knees, and eat it right off the stem. Or, take some leaves, chop them, steam lightly with mint for easy digestion, and eat like greens. Use dandelion leaves as you would use greens, in soups, or with eggs, or even pulsed raw into a verdant pesto with olive oil and pumpkin seeds. Immerse the dandelion leaves into hot water for a bitter tea.
Every part of the plant is edible, the flower, the leaves, the seeds, and the roots. However, it's important to separate seeds from the white fluff, also called papas, which can get stuck in your throat.
Once you eat a dandelion, there's no going back. Soon you'll be munching on many of natures delights, including lamb's quarters, nettles, purslane, and chickweed. Make your favorite dressing, bring a big salad bowl, an instructional manual on how to identify and forage for wild greens, and venture into wild land. Your enjoyment will connect you with your ancestors, who may have spent whole winters without fresh greens. Imagine the ecstasy, biting into those fresh leaves that trumpet the arrival of spring!
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