When I first got a copy of Victoria Boutenko’s green smoothie book, Green for Life, I was blown away by the incredible nutrient statistics of what we commonly think of as weeds (you can read my whole round-up here from a few years back!) that she recommended to blend with a bit of fruit and water as giant smoothies every day. If we harnessed the power of these “weeds” as a global society, I can only imagine how much our nutritional profiles would change?! These are powerful foods that grow wild and are often overlooked for the classic spinach and the more recently popular collars and kale.
Dandelion intrigued me the most as I remember being puzzled as a child when people would spray their yards with chemicals to kill these sprouting flowers. It felt wrong. They were magic to blow when in their seed form, and as flowers they seemed so purposeful.
Dandelion is finally having its day in wellness- so no more rushing to toss them in the trash! They are incredibly versatile in their nutritional power- almost every part of the plant has major healing properties.
Here are some amazing ways that dandelion is being used- as a tea, greens, and even the flowers are edible!!!
“In the past, dandelion roots and leaves were used to treat liver problems. Native Americans also boiled dandelion in water and took it to treat kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and upset stomach. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), dandelion has been used to treat stomach problems, appendicitis, and breast problems, such as inflammation or lack of milk flow. In Europe, dandelion was used in remedies for fever, boils, eye problems, diabetes, and diarrhea.” ~ University of Maryland Medical Center
So, exactly what is dandelion being used for these days?
Liver Detoxification: One of the main functions of the liver is to rid the body of toxins. It does this by detoxifying our blood and producing bile, which aids in our digestive process and the absorption of nutrients in our gut. The liver is also an essential component of storing minerals, iron and vitamin A.
According to an article on Healthy Holistic Living, “Dandelion contains bitter compound taraxacin, which makes the gallbladder to contract to increase bile flow. Dandelion’s ability to increase the flow of bile helps detoxify the liver.”
Weight Loss: A 2008 study, when comparing dandelion root to an anti-obesity drug, concluded that dandelion extract showed “strong pancreatic lipase inhibitory activity…” Pancreatic lipase is an enzyme that helps the body during digestion and also breaks down fat.
Bladder and Kidney Wellness: Dandelion root tea can act as a diuretic. Dandelion root contains apigenin and luteolin that behave as a natural diuretic. A diuretic increases the secretion of water (fluids) from our bodies. This increase in urination allows our kidneys to cleanse themselves of toxins and of our waste. According to Mayo Clinic, diuretics, “…treat a variety of conditions, such as high blood pressure, glaucoma and edema.”
* Because increased secretion of fluids can cause dehydration, it is important to drink plenty of water when drinking dandelion root tea regularly.*
Here is more from Dr. Axe on Dandelion Tea:
Rich in Vitamin K:
Nutrition & You explains, “ Dandelion is probably the richest herbal sources of vitamin-K; provides about 650% of DRI.”
*DRI stands for Dietary Reference Intakes this value is determined by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. *
Vitamin K plays an integral role in building strong bones, protecting the health of your heart, regulating insulin levels….but it is most known for aiding in the clotting of your blood…in a manner that facilitates the functioning of your body.
A study published in the 2014 edition of the Journal of Nutrition reported, “Dietary intake of vitamin K is inversely associated with mortality risk.”, after conducting trials on 7,216 participants, found that, “An increase in dietary intake of vitamin K is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular, cancer, or all-cause mortality in a Mediterranean population at high cardiovascular disease risk.”
So, how can you use dandelion in your life?
Mommypotamus suggests tossing the organic flowers in salads (gorgeous!) or tossing some leaves into salads.
You can blend the leaves in smoothies with some fruit and water. THIS detox smoothie goes the extra mile with herbs and celery, too!
You can have the tea made of the roots and you can even make it into a latte with some almond milk.
( * Of course, always consult your doctor when adding powerful foods to your diet, especially if you are taking medications or have medical conditions that require a specific regime. )
For me, the expansion of wellness into weeds and flowers and roots and all this nutrition is a super-prosperous turn in nutritional wellbeing… and it’s all so readily available to so many, it’s very exciting!
Plant power at it’s very best!
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