Outlaws that they are, Dandelions are making their annual appearance in the parks and lawns of the entire city here in Albuquerque and we, personally, could not be happier to greet one of our most Beloved and abundant plant friends! At La Abeja, we believe that the medicine you need is the medicine you have. There is a reason that Dandelion is so prolific (and dare we say, subversive). Long lauded as a panacea, there is little that his cheery yellow blossom won't be helpful for. As one of the most mineral-rich plants available, its implications for all systems of the body are far-reaching. Read on to find out what secret gifts Dandelion might be longing to share with you!
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First and foremost, Dandelion is an excellent nutritive herb. Useful as both a food and a medicine, Dandelion is remarkably mineral rich and high in antioxidants A + C making it useful in some forms of anemia as well as for strengthening bones + teeth. The implications of including wild and mineral rich greens in your daily diet cannot be overstated--eat a salad of of Dandelion leaves and blossoms each day of Spring and you will surely notice a marked shift in your mood, cognitive function, energy, skin, digestion, and general connection to all that is Wild, within and without.
The leaves of the Dandelion are a potent diuretic which, unlike diuretic medications, works to replenish the minerals (read :: potassium) lost through urination and ultimately to strengthen the kidneys and entire urinary tract through its careful use. Because of its diuretic effect, Dandelion is an excellent choice for treating Urinary Tract Infections when combined with increased fluid intake and soothing herbs such as Marshmallow Root or Cornsilk--an infusion of the leaves is preferred for this application. The entire plant, but particularly the root, acts on the system as a mild laxative, or aperient. It helps to move sluggish bowels, making it an excellent choice for the change of seasons. Its regular use improves liver function significantly and can therefore have a profound and lasting effect on skin conditions, hormonal imbalances, and even conditions as significant as Hepatitis. Through its action on the liver, Dandelion effectively cleanses the blood and supports optimal lipid and hormone metabolism. The bitter taste of the herb itself speaks volumes about its uses. The powerful bitter flavor promotes bile secretion and soothes indigestion--particularly when the imbalance is caused by impaired fat absorption and digestion. Greasy stool is a strong indication that Dandelion may be of great use. The root of Dandelion is also incredibly high in Inulin--a complex sugar which nourishes the beneficial bacteria in our intestinal tract. Healthy gut flora effects everything from cognitive function to auto-immune processes, so drink up. To optimize Inulin extraction, a long slow decoction of the root is preferred--combine with Marshmallow Root (soothing and nourishing to the intestinal tract) and Burdock Root (also full of Inulin) for a heavy hitting dose of the good stuff!
Be sure to harvest the greens for food use before the flower appears, otherwise they will be unpalatably bitter. The greens make a great addition to salads and smoothies or can be cooked alone or with other greens. We love them with shallots and bacon! The blossoms can be made into wine, added to smoothies, or the petals carefully clipped and added to a salad as an elegant and antioxidant-rich touch! For a real treat, try out our recipe for Dandelion Fritters. Also, use common sense when harvesting and avoid areas that may have been sprayed with chemicals or marked by dogs.
Dandelion blossoms help us to see the good in the mundane. They help us to relax, to soften, to laugh at ourselves and drop our egos in order to truly enjoy Life. We love the flower essence of Dandelion for connecting with this aspect of its medicine.
Beyond the incredible gifts these weedy allies offer to humans, the blossoms provide lavish nectar for pollinators -- namely our beloved Apis mellifera, the common Honey Bee. They also serve an important role in restoring disturbed ecosystems. Dandelions serve as mineral concentrators, replenishing and aerating depleted soil so that other plants can begin to seed themselves an flourish. In this way, Dandelions are true pioneers, laying the groundwork for a a thriving and lush world.
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