(Pu Gong Ying; Taraxaci herba)
Spring rains are a welcome sight in these parts of sunny Florida – they herald the greening up of golf-courses, a seasonal Liver cleanse, and time to hit the beach. Yet all over my lawn are fat healthy bunches of lush green leaves topped off with a gorgeous yellow flower then later a poofy bud. To my dismay, I came home one day to find all my luscious dandelion plants whacked away to nothing (the LoveOfMyLife thought he was being helpful by mowing the lawn & getting rid of the "weeds”. Ahhhh….The lowly dandelion “weed” gets a really bad rep; but according to Ralph Waldo Emerson: “A weed is a plant whose virtue is not yet known".
Did you know in herbal medicine, dandelion is 1 of the plants that is King of Detox, and is perfect as part of your detox cleanse especially at springtime? Springtime in Chinese Medicine is associated with the color green, the Wood element, growth, and the Liver/Gallbladder system so it makes perfect sense to cleanse your Liver in preparation for a new season. We use it in Chinese medicinal therapy for its antibacterial, hepatoprotective & immunostimulant effects, amongst other things. It’s used to treat symptoms of abscesses, sores, visual disturbances, redness & swelling of eyes, jaundice or urinary problems, and can even promote lactation! From a nutritional perspective, it’s a good green to incorporate in your diet as it’s loaded with iron, calcium and other minerals, is the richest source of Vitamin K, as well as provides a little protein. Here’s a little bit of trivia for ya about dandelion: the name comes from the French word ‘dent de lion’ meaning “teeth of a lion” because the edges of the leaves are jagged & look like the animal’s teeth. So this is no ordinary weed my friends. The roots are harvested in summer to be used also as medicine, but in autumn they’re dried to be later ground up & used as ‘coffee’.
* Meridians: Liver & Stomach
* Taste: Bitter, “sweet”
* Temperature: cold
a) Reduce abscess & dissipate nodules
b) Clear the Liver & clear the eyes
c) Clear Heat, resolve Damp & unblock painful urinary dribbling.
Note of Caution:
Dandelion greens may taste a little bitter to first-timers so choose fresh, younger, smaller leaves as they’re less harsh tasting. Large doses of dandelion may cause a mild case of diarrhea so start off with a few leaves and gradually work up to its bold, sassy flavor. Also be careful if you are on potassium-sparing diuretics as it can potentiate potassium toxicity.
Having your way with Dandelion:
Dandelion leaves make a great addition to a mixed greens salad, but make sure you buy organic dandelion (remember it’s a detoxing agent so no sense randomly picking dandelions from your neighbor’s lawn especially if it’s been treated with chemicals). Try including a handful of leaves chopped up & mixed in with your next green salad. Or if you are doing a detox smoothie, make dandelion leaves the bulk of the formula and add other greens (like celery, lime, kale, spinach) with 1 small green apple or ¼ cup pineapple for sweetness. So there ya go! Pick some dandelion leaves this spring and enjoy!
Until next time, Happy weeding! Happy healing!
Audrey Steele, L.Ac.
*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader.
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