Our name for Dandelion comes from the French Dent de Lion, meaning “lion’s tooth.” This refers to the jagged points on the leaves, which look like sharp teeth. Whether it is named this because of its jagged leaves or jagged yellow flower is unknown. The French grow dandelions to eat, just as we grow lettuce in our gardens.
The dandelion’s official name is Taraxacum Officinale. This simply means “the official remedy for disorders”. The whole plant is actually edible. This plant is very commonly found in many parts across the world, but not many know of its wonderful health benefits. The dandelion is often considered just a beautiful flowering plant. But this plant is one of the most widely used medicinal herbs by Chinese traditional medicine practitioners.
Modern science has analyzed dandelion greens. The dandelion is replete with nutrients of many kinds that make it the ideal food supplement. The leaves of this plant contain significant amounts of vitamins A, C, D and B complex. Minerals like zinc, potassium, iron, magnesium, choline, copper, silicon and boron are also present in this plant. Other than these, eudesmanolide and germacranolide are found only in the dandelion plant.
Your parents might have heard of eating dandelions, but even your grandparents might not know how to prepare them. The first steps are knowing when and where to gather the tasty greens. Dandelions are best picked where the grass grows tall and free. Yard dandelions, which have been cut often, do not have as good a flavor. Also, many people try to poison the dandelions in their yards, and those chemicals are not healthy to eat. The best time to gather is long before the last frost of spring.
The first edible portion appears as a slightly reddish tangle of leaves. The greens grow from these. Dandelion greens are the leaves above the surface. They must be gathered before the plant blooms to be delicious. The best time to gather them is just when the bloom bud appears, before the stalk grows. If you wait too long, they will taste bitter. Eating the leaves after the yellow flowers bloom is like chewing yesterday’s gum.
To cook dandelion greens, wash them well with water, then place them in a pan and pour boiling water over them. Let them boil for five minutes, then season with salt and butter. Eat them hot. If the taste is too strong, gather the bloom buds and cook them with the leaves to smooth out the taste. This spring, cook up a batch of nutritious, delicious greens for dinner.
Health Benefits Of Dandelion
Helps Rectify Liver Disorders. The presence of eudesmanolide and germacranolide make the dandelion an effective remedy for digestive and liver dysfunction. Its antioxidants boost the functioning of the liver and ensure that proper flow of bile is maintained even in older people whose liver functions are impaired due to advancing age. Dandelion is used effectively to treat liver haemorrhage and to stimulate the liver’s role in the body’s digestive processes.
Several problems that arise from poor liver function may be treated effectively using dandelions. These include headaches, constipation, gout, skin eruptions and fatigue. In addition, it can help limit the adverse effects of different therapeutic drugs on the liver.
Promotes Clear Skin. Dandelion has been used since times immemorial to treat various skin problems. In fact, this is one of the effective cures for age spots. The sap of the plant, also called dandelion milk, is applied to the skin to remove blemishes, get rid of infections and to treat problems such as eczema. The sap is alkaline and also has germicidal and fungicidal properties. As the plant is an excellent diuretic and detoxifies the body, it is also used to cure severe cases of acne.
Builds Bone Health. Impaired bone strength is a common problem faced by many older people. Most often, the cause of this impairment is insufficient calcium intake. Dandelion is rich in calcium and also has antioxidants like vitamin C and Luteolin. These substances are helpful in preserving bone strength in older people.
Safe Weight Reduction. For those elderly people who want a safe way to reduce excess weight, dandelions provide the perfect solution. The plant’s diuretic properties ensure that excess water is not retained in the body, making this a good remedy for bloating. This plant cuts the heaviness of fatty foods and thus reduces gas build up within the body. By improving digestion, dandelion also ensures that fats are broken down properly during the digestive process thus cutting down any increase in fat reserves.
The roots of the dandelion are taken in dried and powdered form while the leaves may be eaten raw or cooked along with food. Most often, dandelion leaves are added raw to salads. An extract or tea made from the leaves is also used quite commonly. The seeds are roasted and used to make a decoction that takes the place of coffee for health conscious individuals.