One of the first signs of spring, even when the season itself seems confused, is the appearance of dandelions. These cheerful, bright yellow flowers dot lawns, fill ditches and dance across fields. Most consider the dandelion a weed to be eradicated. Children see them as wish granters and essentials for flower necklaces. My friend Marva appreciates their musical abilities and has taught the whole world how to make a dandelion horn. Her charming and folksy video went viral! (Enjoy the dandelion horn video HERE)
For me, this magical plant that still delights the artistic child that dwells within me has become a source of healing.
Anthony William, author of Life Changing Foods, writes that the defining characteristic of dandelions is bitterness. It is this quality that lends this wild food restorative properties. Dandelions get your blood pumping and your organs spring cleaning, clearing away radiation, toxic heavy metals, DDT, and other poisons.
Every part of this plant is edible and useful…root, leaves, flower and even the stem. And every part varies in its degree of bitterness and targets different areas of the body.
The sunny yellow blossoms are the least bitter, and they cleanse the stomach and intestinal tract. The leaves, which are more bitter, contain phytochemicals that purify the blood, help with circulation and remove toxins from the lymphatic system, making them helpful for those with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, swollen lymph nodes and edema.
The even more bitter stem of the dandelion cleanses dense organs such as the spleen, liver and brain. And the root, the most bitter part of the plant, forces organs to purge at a deep level. As Anthony says, dandelion root is not for the faint of heart!
Full of nutrients such as vitamins A and B, manganese, iodine, calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, silica and chlorophyll, dandelions energize the entire body, preventing illnesses and fighting off diseases.
Dandelion leaves can be consumed raw in a salad, cooked like other greens, run through a juicer with fruits and veggies or steeped in hot water for a refreshing and cleansing tea. The flowers make a wonderful cold tea. Pick fresh blooms and let them steep in cold water overnight. Sweeten the drink with raw honey if desired. And the roots can be dried and finely chopped for hot tea, or roasted and used as a substitute for coffee. Roasting takes the edge off of the bitterness.
Dandelions are readily available from spring until fall. They can be picked fresh from any area that has not been treated with chemicals for weed control. Also avoid the strips of land along roads as these tend to be contaminated with pollutants.
My favorite place to harvest dandelions is in my own backyard, where I have a very healthy crop growing. I enjoy using the fresh flowers and leaves to create a flavorful hot tea. I’ll be daring and try the root very soon.