The Collison Newsletter November 2014

 

                   HERBS FOR LIVER HEALTH

                              3.  DANDELION*  

 

Dandelion, Taraxacum officials, is also known as Lion's Tooth, Puff Ball, and Royal Herb. While the common dandelion is considered by some as a nuisance weed, herbalists regard it as a valuable herb with many medicinal and culinary uses.

 

Dandelion is a hardy perennial, with a rosette of leaves to 30cm long. Smooth leaves are bright green with uneven, jagged margins of backward pointing teeth. The name dandelion names comes from these shaped leaves, 'dent de lion', the French for lion's teeth. The one terminal bright yellow flower sits at the top of a hollow flower-stem. These flowers are sensitive to light, so they open with the sun in the morning and close in the evening or during overcast weather. This flower changes into a puff-ball-looking seed head, with fluffy parachutes to carry each seed away on the wind - nature’s way of plant preservation.

 

Dandelion plants are said to give off, or breathe out, ethylene gas. This can have an inhibiting effect on the growth of some plants nearby, but this same gas is used by some farmers to accelerate the ripening process of crops. By scattering dandelion seeds under fruit trees, the ethylene gas given off can aid in the earlier ripening of the crop, which could have a commercial advantage.

Active Ingredients of Dandelion 

Dandelion is a rich source of vitamins A, B complex (especially B1, B2, and B3), C and E.

 

It is rich in the minerals iron, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, calcium and manganese, and contains traces of others.

 

Dandelion has essential oils, inulin, choline, mucin, saponins, fatty acids, pectin and gum protein (3%).

Actions of Dandelion 

Dandelion has multiple actions including:  anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, hepatic, choleretic, and diuretic activity.

Medicinal Uses of Dandelion 

·        As a Liver Tonic

 

In traditional medicine, dandelion roots and leaves are used to treat liver problems. For this purpose, it can be taken as a tea of dandelion root, or by eating the leaves. It is not only recommended for anyone with liver complaints, but it can be eaten regularly as a preventative, helping to keep the liver at peak efficiency.

 

Dandelion stimulates the flow of bile and so helps promote bile excretion from the liver, so that the body can more efficiently process foods, especially aiding in fat digestion, while also purging harmful toxins. It is also effective in stimulating a sluggish gall bladder, which is responsible for storing and excreting bile as the body needs it.

 

Dandelion is effective at promoting blood purity, which helps reduce the burden placed on the liver to filter out toxins. By helping purify the blood, dandelion leaf allows the liver to perform its functions more effectively.

 

·        As a Diuretic

 

Dandelion is regarded as one of the safest and most active of the plant diuretics. This effect comes from the leaves. It increases urine production by promoting the excretion of salts and water from the body via the kidneys. Whereas pharmaceutical diuretics lead to loss of potassium, dandelion is an excellent source of potassium. It can thus be used for a wide variety of conditions requiring mild diuretic treatment, including some liver disorders.

 

·        Other Medicinal Uses

 

Dandelion has been used:

  • As a mild appetite stimulant
  • To improve upset stomach
  • To improve digestion
  • As a mild laxative
  • To improve the health and function of the natural bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract
  • To assist in normalisation of blood glucose levels
  • To improve lipid profiles
  • The green leaves of dandelion are highly alkali-forming in the body, and so, if eaten regularly, will assist the body to reduce excess acidity.

 Available Forms of Dandelion and Dosage 

Dandelion herbs (leaves) and roots are available fresh, or dried in a variety of forms, including tinctures, teas, tablets and capsules.

 

The highly nutritious, young dandelion leaves are used in salads, added to stir-fries and many other dishes that have greens added to them. Young leaves have a less bitter flavour than older leaves. Steaming older leaves (blanching) will remove the majority of the bitter flavour, and these limped leaves can then be used in salads etc.

 

Dandelion tea can be made by steeping leaves in boiling water.

 

Home brewed dandelion beer or wine (often using the flowers although it is suggested that the whole plant is used, root, stem, leaves and flower) is another way of getting the benefits of dandelion.

 

The dandelion roots can be found in some coffee substitutes (non-caffeine 'coffee').

 

Most capsules contain either dandelion root or leaf, standardised powdered extract (4:1), 500 mg. The average adult dose is two capsules, two or three times a day. www.iherb.com.

Caution 

Dandelion is generally considered safe. Rarely, allergy may develop, even to touching the plant.

 

As a diuretic, dandelion leaf may increase the excretion of drugs from the body. If you are taking prescription medications, (especially lithium, certain antibiotics, and antacids), check with your health care provider before taking dandelion leaf.

Conclusion 

Medicinally, dandelion roots are mainly used as a liver tonic, as an appetite stimulant and digestive aid. Dandelion leaves are used for their diuretic function.

 

*Copyright 2014: The Huntly Centre.

Disclaimer: All material in the huntlycentre.com.au website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Consult a health professional regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations expressed herein, with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.

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