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Monday, January 28


Dandelion is despised when it comes to achieving a lush, weed-free lawn. Many consider this plant to be invasive, waging war with chemical weed killers or spending hours digging and pulling.  However, this plant is tenacious. A single dandelion makes up to 15,000 seeds, each with the ability to survive up to six years in the soil.  Perhaps their brightness in colour, their stubbornness, resilience, deep roots and abundance are trying to tell us something.  

Amongst those wise in the ways of natural healing, dandelion is widely recognized as nourishing for the liver, our largest and most functionally diverse organ.  When the liver is not working properly it affects the whole body : skin, kidneys, heart, glandular, immune and digestive systems.  Dandelion root cleanses and eases inflammation of the liver and gallbladder, improves bile disorders and constipation, and helps to prevent gallstones and gravel.  It can assist in clearing up jaundice, hepatitis and muscular rheumatism.  Dandelion acts as a diuretic, contains potassium, and can support those recovering from drug or alcohol abuse, eating disorders and overextended use of antibiotics.  

Dandelion root in tincture or tea form can support those who suffer from menstrual difficulties such as cramping, water retention, pelvic congestion, fatigue, and emotional imbalance (extreme frustration, anger, depression).  For women the liver is significant as it is responsible for breaking down excess hormones such as estrogen and the corticosteroids.  When the liver is overstressed from high intake of fat, sugar, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and processed foods, it is less able to deal with peak levels of sex hormones creating a variety of symptoms between ovulation and the onset of menses, and for some, throughout their cycle.  

A variety of dandelion species are found around the world.  Most grocery stores carry dandelion leaves which can be eaten in salads, soups, or steamed as a side.  The flowers also add beautiful colour to the plate in spring.  The roots can be dug in summer, late fall, and early winter to be dried for tea or eaten fresh amongst other root vegetables.  Dried dandelion root is available at herbalists and most health food stores.  The taste is bitter, another reason it may be hard to view dandelion as our ally. 

For more information on plants that assist the liver, look into this excellent resource The Roots of Healing : A Woman's book of Herbs by Deb Soule (1995).  

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