Dandelion

 

 

Dandelion

Taraxacum officinale

Family:  Asteraceae
Genus:  Taraxacum
Species: officinale

 Synonyms:  Piss the bed, pee-the-bed, lion's tooth, fairy clock, blowball, cankerwort, priest's crown, puffball, swine snout, white endive, wild endive

Description and Habitat: Dandelion is a native of Western Europe where it can be found growing in meadows, fields, gardens and farmland.   It originated in Central Asia but now grows almost anywhere in the world.

The Herb prefers to live in moist conditions. It has a rosette of characteristic 'lion's tooth' leaves, from the centre of which arises the hollow stem bearing a yellow flower head made up of 200 or more ‘ligulate’ (in the shape of a strap) bisexual florets.

These give way to the familiar 'fairy clock'. The long taproot arises from a short rhizome.  All the underground parts are covered with dark brown bark, but are almost white inside and, like the stem and producing a bitter-tasting white milky sap.

 

Parts used: leaves and root.

 

Harvesting: the leaves are collected when they are freshest, which is before the Herb flowers in May.

 

The root is unearthed in autumn for a high inulin content, or in spring for a high bitters content. The root should be collected no later than the second year.

 

Constituents:

Leaf: bitter glycosides, carotenoids (including lutein and violaxanthin), terpenoids, choline, potassium salts, iron and other minerals, Vitamins, A, B, C and D.  The vitamin A content is higher than that of carrots!.

Root: bitter glycosides (taraxacin), tannins, triterpenes (including taraxol and taraxsterol), phytosterols, volatile oil, choline, asparagine, carbohydrates (including inulin which is up to 40% in autumn and 2% in spring), sugars, pectin, phenolic acids, vitamins, potassium.

 

Actions:

Leaf: gentle diuretic, choleretic.

Root: Bitter, mild laxative, digestive and hepatic tonic, cholagogue, diuretic, antirheumatic.

 

Indications:

Leaf: swelling in any part of the body, inflammation, water retention.

Root: cholecystitis, gall-stones, jaundice, a slow digestive system with constipation

 

Therapeutics and Pharmacology: The dandelion leaf is a very potent diuretic and is an excellent remedy for water retention. It is also one of the best natural sources of potassium and therefore is a perfectly balanced and safe diuretic.

Dandelion root is a gentle liver tonic and may be used to treat inflammation and congestion of the liver and gall bladder.  It can be applied to gallstones, cholecystitis, hepatic and post-hepatic jaundice, slow digestive system with constipation and other toxic conditions such as chronic joint and skin inflammation.

The root contains bitter substances which are beneficial to the digestive process and also have an aperient effect.  The active principle is taraxacin, which is found in the whole herb, particularly the root, and stimulates bile secretion. The white sap may be applied directly to warts.

 

Contraindications:
Eczema: People with eczema seem to have a higher chance of having an allergic reaction to dandelion. If you have eczema, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking dandelion.

Bleeding disorders: Dandelion might slow blood clotting. In theory, taking dandelion might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.

Ragweed allergy: People who are allergic to ragweed and related plants (daisies, chrysanthemums, marigolds) might be more likely to be allergic to dandelion. But conflicting data exists. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your doctor before taking dandelion.

Kidney failure: Dandelion might reduce how much oxalate is released through urine. In theory, this might increase the risk of complications in people with kidney problems.


Preparation and Dosage
:

Leaf:

Infusion – 1 cup of Infusion taken three times a day,

Tincture: 2 to 4 drops three times a day

Root:

Decoction – 1 teaspoon in hot water 3 times a day.

Tincture: 2-3 drops three times a day.

Folklore & Additional Comments: Dandelions are one of the most colourful, profuse and perverse plants. With such characteristics as these, it is to be expected that a number of myths and legends have grown up around the Herb. Dandelions have been used for food and medicine for many years. As a consequence of their usefulness and bright colour, most of the symbols and myths surrounding them are positive.

Woven into a wedding bouquet they are meant to be good luck for a newly married couple.  When Dandelions appear in dreams, they are thought to represent happy unions, they are also considered to be symbols of hope, summer and childhood.  Many beliefs centre on dandelions answering questions or bringing good luck.  When the seeds are blown of a Dandelion seed head it was said to carry thoughts and affections to a loved one.

In medieval rituals Dandelions, being the colour of gold were used to predict whether a child would be rich when the flower was held beneath the chin if a golden glow indicated then the child would be rich.

In the 18th century, England children held the dandelion under their chin and the more golden the glow the sweeter and kinder they were. One legend surrounding these flowers was that the tallest dandelion stalk that a child could find in the early spring will show how much taller they will grow in the coming year.

Dandelions have been used as a variation on the daisy petal plucking of “he loves me, he loves me not”

If you blow on a white dandelion head and every seed scatters, then you are loved.   If some seeds still cling to the stalk, then your intended has reservations about the relationship.

It is also said that if you make a wish immediately before blowing on a dandelion, your wish just might come true.   Another belief was that the number of seeds left after blowing the seed head indicated the number of children that a girl would have in later life.

Dandelion is said to increase psychic abilities when drunk as a tea.   A tea of the roots left steaming and placed beside the bed will call spirits to you. Dandelion Herb buried in the northwest corner of the house will bring favourable winds.

Others claim that the number of seeds remaining after blowing the seed head, is how many years you have left to live.  A common belief is that the number of seeds left is the time, this gave rise to the term dandelion clock for the seed head.

The dandelion flower opens an hour after sunrise and closes at dusk giving rise to the belief that it is a ‘Shepherd’s clock’.

The dandelion is an excellent barometer, one of the commonest and most reliable.   It is said that when the blooms have seeded and are in the fluffy, feathery condition, then it’s weather prophet facilities come to the fore.   In fine weather, the ball extends to the full, but when rain approaches, it shuts like an umbrella.   If the weather is inclined to be showery it keeps shut all the time, only opening when the danger from the wet is over.

However, dandelions are symbols of grief and the Passion of Christ in theological symbolism as well as being one of the bitter herbs of the Passover.

The sticky white sap was used as a folklore cure for warts and corns. As all parts of the plant may be eaten dandelion is a valuable survival Herb for the community to made use of.