Long thought of a pesky weed, dandelion is now starting to be given the recognition it deserves. Ever wonder what dandelion root benefits are? Yes, they do have an important role in women’s health – but it doesn’t stop there. Find out why I love dandelion root so much!
While explore the world of wild edibles, our common dandelion is the perfect place to start. Spring has come upon us quickly and dandelions are starting to make their appearance – in yards, fields and sidewalk cracks – whether welcomed or not. They are plentiful and familiar, and these ‘weeds’ likely made an appearance in many childhood memories. Dandelion root has many benefits, and this nutritious food is referred to by herbalists as a powerful medicine with an especially important role in women’s health.
Dandelion Root Benefits and Therapeutic Qualities
Herbal Dandelion Leaf Benefits
Dandelion leaves are a source of vitamins and minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and vitamins A, B and C. The leaves of the dandelion are used by herbalists as a diuretic to help the body eliminate excess water through the kidneys (1).
Herbal Dandelion Root Benefits
Herbalists use dandelion root to support the liver and kidneys in ridding the body of waste products, including dietary toxins, drugs, synthetic hormones and metabolic byproducts (1).
Dandelion Roots Are High In Prebiotic Inulin
Dietitians preach that the dandelion roots are high in a compound called inulin, a fibre and potent prebiotic food which helps feed our friendly gut bacteria and can help stabilize blood sugar levels. See my post Five Tips On How To Improve Gut Health Naturally- Prebiotics, Probiotics and Fermented Foods.
How To Eat Dandelion
Can I Eat Dandelion Leaves?
Yes, you certainly can! The leaves taste best in early spring, becoming more bitter with longer exposure to the sun. Add dandelion leaves fresh to salads, or try steaming, sauteing or boiling them. Gather Victoria featured this Dandelion and Calendula Egg Cup.
Can I Eat Dandelion Flowers?
Yes, you can eat dandelion flowers! The flowers contain vitamin A and offer a sweet and mild flavour. They are a great addition to salads, fritters or pancakes. Don’t try and cook with the green base of the flower head which can be bitter.
How To Eat Dandelion Root
You can purchase a pre-prepared dandelion root that has already been cleaned, chopped and or ground. This recipe for Dandelion Root Latte with Turmeric and Ginger uses chopped dandelion root, and the recipe attached to this post has the option to use chopped or ground and roasted dandelion root. The roasting process helps make the dandelion root resemble coffee in flavour. Gather Victoria uses them in baking, as in this Chocolate Dandelion Root Energy Bites.
How To Roast Dandelion Root
You can purchase roasted dandelion root from many health food or herbal stores. Roasting the dandelion root increases the sweetness of the root, and lends to a bittersweet coffee-like flavour. To roast your own place chopped dried roots on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 30 minutes at 200 degrees Fahrenheit. You will know they are done with the are golden brown and smell sweet.
How To Make A Dandelion Root Latte
To make a Dandelion Root Latte place 1 tsp of roasted dandelion root chunks per cup of cold water in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer for 5-10 minutes with the pot covered. Strain and serve with warm milk and honey.
How To Make Dandelion Vinegar
Use fresh Spring-time dandelion leaves and roots. Clean well and chop or tear into small pieces then place the leaves and roots in a clean glass jar and pack down. Cover with apple cider vinegar and then seal tightly with a lid. Place the vinegar mixture in a dark place and shake the mixture every few days.
After 2 weeks, strain out the vinegar – label and keep refrigerated for about 1 year. Use in salad dressings or any other way you would use vinegar (3).
Dandelion Root Benefits For Women’s Health
How Does Dandelion Root Help with Women’s Health?
The root is said to help break down excess and synthetic estrogens which can accumulate in the body. The method may be through protecting the liver by elevating antioxidative potentials and decreasing lipid peroxidation (2).
Why Are Synthetic Hormones Bad For Women’s Health?
Accumulation of excess synthetic hormones may lead to hormone imbalances. Hormone imbalances may be linked to mood disorders, infertility, and acne, amongst other things.
Where Are Synthetic Hormones Found?
There is no shortage of synthetic estrogens surrounding us – expect to find them in birth control pills, estrogen-like compounds in foods that contain toxic pesticides, herbicides, and growth hormones, and in our environment including BPA water bottles and lined-cans (see post Why Is BPA Bad? Health and Environmental Concerns).
How to Identify Dandelion
How To Identify Dandelion Leaves
There are many plant lookalikes that have similar leaves, but luckily no poisonous lookalikes exist locally on Vancouver Island. If you are trying to identify the edible leaves before the flowers are in bloom, know that dandelion leaves are hairless, and their toothed edges will always point towards to base of the stem, unlike their lookalikes. Note the French name, “dent de lion” or lion’s tooth.
Look At The Dandelion Stem
Another way to identify dandelion before the flowers have bloomed is by looking at the stem. There is also only one flower per stem, and all leaves form at the base of the stem and spread out like a petal of roses (3).
How To Preserve Dandelion
How To Preserve Dandelion Leaves
Dandelion leaf tea can be a gentle medicine if had in small doses (see contraindications below). To preserve the leaves for tea to use as medicine throughout the year, harvest on a dry Spring day. Use a rubber band or string to bundle small bunches of leaves together to dry.
How To Store Dandelion Leaves
Once the leaves are completely dry you can store them in a glass jar for up to a year. To make dandelion leaf tea use 1 tsp per cup of boiled water and drink 2-3 cups per day (3).
How To Preserve Dandelion Root
Harvest the roots in the Spring through until Fall. Wash them well, ridding them of as much dirt as possible. Dry the dandelion root whole by hang drying or in a dehydrator. Some people prefer to chop the roots with scissors prior to drying, to ensure a nice and even drying time.
How To Store Dandelion Root
Once the dandelion root is dry, cut the roots into small pieces so they can be used in baking or for lattes and store in a glass jar in a cool dark place (3).
Harvesting Dandelion Safely and Medication Interactions
Harvest Dandelion From Clean Areas
This is actually harder than you think. Finding a space that has not been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides should be a priority. Do not harvest dandelions near roadsides or agricultural areas.
Identifying Dandelion and Taking Only What You Need
Before harvesting dandelion, make sure you go with someone who can correctly identify the plant. Once you have found a good spot, it can be difficult to take only what you need. Remember that you will need to go home and process your harvest, so be sure to not over harvest. Also, leave some for others, and for the bees.
Medication Interactions with Dandelion
Dandelion extracts may interact with some medications including diabetes medication, anticoagulation medications, lithium, antibiotics and diuretics. Speak with your doctor or health care professional before starting any herbal medicine.
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Dandelion Root Coffee Recipe
- 1 tsp dandelion root chunks*
- 1 cup water
- 1/8-1/4 cup milk or milk alternative
- 1 tsp honey optional
- Roast the dandelion root chunks at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes (see notes below if you have pre-roasted and ground dandelion root). This will enhance the bitter, coffee-like flavours. Option to do a larger batch and save the remainder in a sealable glass jar for later use.
- In a saucepan add 1 tsp of roasted dandelion root to 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer for 5- 10 minutes with the pot covered with a lid.
- Strain and serve with warmed milk, milk alternative and honey.
*You can purchase pre-roasted and ground dandelion root. If you have this, simply add 1 heaped teaspoon to your cup and stir in 1 cup of boiled water. Add milk and sweetener to taste.
References for Dandelion Root Benefits
1) Natural and Therapeutic Database – Dandelion
2) Yanghee You, et al., (2010). In vitro and in vivo hepatoprotective effects of the aqueous extract from Taraxacum officinale (dandelion) root against alcohol-induced oxidative stress. Food and Chemical Toxicology.
3) Elise Krohn – Aboriginal Herbalist