While many people see Dandelions as an inconvenient weed on their manicured lawns, others have realised just how many health benefits and culinary uses this common garden weed really has. Over the years, its roots, leaves and flowers have been used as an appetite enhancer, a mild laxative and even a diuretic.
These plants are used to treat a number of ailments: among them cirrhosis, jaundice, gallstones, appendicitis, boils, fevers, oedema, eczema, gout, acne and even hepatitis. In Chinese culture, it has even been used to assist mothers who have poor milk flow after giving birth. Having an antibacterial action, Dandelions can be used to treat and heal wounds and fight bacteria. Pain associated with insect bites and stings can be soothed by placing the sap from the plant stem or root directly onto the affected area. Corns, calluses and warts can be removed by using the latex compound found in the plant sap. Despite Dandelion having diuretic properties, this plant does not deplete the body of potassium. It can be used as a tonic to help strengthen the kidneys,liver, pancreas, spleen, intestines and stomach and to eliminate toxins from the body.
Those suffering from low blood sugar or diabetes can benefit by drinking a cup of dandelion tea each day. It can also help with digestive disorders, sluggishness, general fatigue and indigestion.
Dandelions have exceptional nutritional value in that they contain high doses of Vitamins A and C, iron, potassium, beta carotene, calcium and copper. The leaves and flowers can be used in salads. It is preferable to use younger plants for this, as they are less bitter. The flowers can even be dipped in batter and fried as a snack. Dried Dandelion roots can be used as a substitute for coffee. It is even claimed that the flowers can be fermented and used to make a wine, which is both medicinal and bursting with flavour.
Dandelion tea/coffee can be made by placing a dried root into boiling water and allowing it to steep. Just one cup a day will be highly beneficial. Not only can the sap from the stem and root be used on wounds, but should a more potent mixture be needed, the entire plant can also be ground with a mortar and pestle and then placed on the affected area. For gallbladder, stomach, liver or kidney problems, 2 ounces of the dried herb or root can be placed in a quart of water, boiled for 30 minutes and taken in half cup doses every 3 hours.
Dandelions can be used to help fruit ripen by placing them in a paper bag with the fruit. The roots and leaves can be used to make liquid plant food. Appendages found at the base of the leaves can be used to make a skin tonic, which helps to treat acne and can even help to fade freckles. Owing to its deep-growing tap roots, it actually benefits your garden because it is able to bring nitrogen into the soil to help benefit shallower-rooted plants. They help to release ethylene gas in the garden, which is beneficial if you are growing fruit.
Shona Botes is a budding blogger, as well as a fabulous frugalist. Her spare time is spent engaged in blogging, cycling, photography, as well as green living and natural healing and remedies.
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