Common name: Dandelion
Latin: Taraxacum officinale
Family: Asteraceae/ Compositeae – daisy family.
Botanical features: Herbaceous perennial with single yellow flower heads, each made up of numerous florets on unbranched, hollow stems. Leaves are toothed or deeply lobed and form a basal rosette growing from a mostly unbranched taproot. The fruits are borne on silky pappi forming a globe which is easily blown apart by wind or by wish-makers alike.
Dandelion flowers must be one of the most joyful sights at this time of year, carpeting roadsides and fields with their abundant golden yellow flower heads, followed by the beautiful seed head clocks, the bane of many a gardener, but not in my world, I love them and actively encourage them in all areas of my lawn and garden!
They have long been considered heralds of the return of the sun, blooming in spring, opening with the day and closing at night.
Dandelion is one of those many plants that blurs the line between food and medicine, as all parts can be used for culinary and medicinal purposes. It is not without irony that plants commonly viewed as weeds like nettle, cleavers and dandelion are some of the most nutritious foods and helpful medicines we have available to us. The sad result of living in our modern world of seeming abundance is that we have forgotten our connection to those healing plants that can help us the most. Dandelions should always be encouraged in our gardens, not just for our own wellbeing but because they also support a variety of butterflies, moths and other insects.
Dandelion is well known for being a liver cleaning and supportive plant. As if improving digestion is not enough, ingesting Dandelion helps support the body in many other ways. Dandelion is high in carotenes, vitamin C, potassium, calcium. Iron, B vitamins, and protein. Dandelion increases circulation and fluid waste elimination in the body, without depleting the body of important nutrients. The flowers have pain-relieving qualities and the sap is a folk remedy for vanishing warts.
At every stage of growth Dandelion offers the body dense nutrients while at the same time encouraging the absorption of those nutrients. As with many of the nutrient dense herbs dandelion can be ingested as much as you like throughout the lifespan with nothing but beneficial effects!
I could include so much about all the plants I write about, but will try to keep to the bare bones of info and how I work with them right now. I say right now because I am always learning new ways of making magic and medicine!
To learn more about Dandelion and the science behind the medicine please check outRichard Whelan’s site here. He has shared freely so much of his herb wisdom on these pages that I feel duty bound to share them on.
How I Am Working With Dandelion
Infused Oil for Dandelion Balm
As soon as I see those golden sunny blooms appear on my lawn I’m out there harvesting. Just a few at a time, enough to fill a jam jar, as they are a valuable source of early nectar and pollen for insects, so it would be rude and selfish to take them all. Anyway, they are so prolific and abundant that there will be plenty for everyone as the days and weeks go by, and the insects needs are greater than mine (the same goes for daisies!) With moisture filled flowers like dandelions and daisies I have found it’s best to let them dry out a bit first before I put them in the jar as the oil can attract more moisture and go rancid really quickly. I just lay them out on a piece of kitchen roll, or in the herb dryer for a few hours, or an hour or 2 in the dehydrator (my new gift to myself this year!)
Once they are a little dry (be careful not to leave dandelions out too long or they will go to seed!!) put in your jam jar, cover with oil of choice, place a piece of cloth or muslin over the top secured with string or a band so it can breathe, again because the moisture content can cause mould to grow – I do this with all my infused herbal oils if I am using fresh plant material.
For me personally I work around the moon cycle – not only does it add potency and intention to what I am doing, it also enables me to remember to check on and process what I am doing, otherwise I just forget what needs doing when.
Dandelion Tincture and Vinegar
So easy and healthy to make, just dig up a whole plant, root, leaves and flowers. clean off all the dirt, chop the roots and leaves up and add the whole lot to a jar, cover with vodka and leave for six weeks or a moon cycle – strain and bottle.
I make Dandelion vinegar the same way, but instead of using vodka I use organic apple cider vinegar. This can then be used as the same way you would use any vinegar.
You can make healing heathful vinegars with any aromatic herbs – oregano, thyme, rosemary – and also later in the year elderberries and blackberries (these require a little cooking in sugar but are so delicous, like balsamic vinegar but better!!)
Scientific name: Bellis perennis
Daisy flowers (and a few young leaves) can be added to forage salads and are rich in vitamin C. Daisy tea can be taken internally for the chest and stomach, coughs, bronchitis, disorders of the liver and kidneys, and swelling (inflammation). Daisies are drying (astringent) and act as a “blood purifier.” Some people take homeopathic wild daisy for preventing problems during childbirth, pain and soreness, and minor bleeding.
Although you can use daisies like dandelions, in teas and herbal preparations I only tend to make an infused oil to make balms. Daisy is a powerful anti-inflamatory, and was used for centuries to treat bruises, swelling and digestive issues – essentially the affordable alternative to arnica. But it also contains antioxidants, helping to plump the skin and reduce signs of aging. It’s also used as a brightening agent, as it helps prevent the emergence of dark spots and improves skin pigmentation. Way more abundant and affordable than arnica.
One thing I have found essential is to write down everything that you do. I now keep what I call my “grimoire”, where I write all my herbal recipes.
You can see a real quick video I uploaded on YouTube here on how I make my balms from infused oils.
As with all herbal remedies, if you are under a gp or other health care provider for an existing medical condition do consult them before embarking on taking any herbal remedy, homemade or otherwise. Take responsibility for your own health, do your own research on things, use your inner guidance system and intuition regarding all things. Never take any herbal remedy daily for more than 6 weeks without at least a small break.
Happy foraging and healing. Keep well. Green blessings
The content in this article is not intended as a medical reference but as a source of information.
Before trying any herbal remedy the reader is recommended to try a small quantity first to establish whether there are any adverse or allergic reactions to the herb.
Please remember that although all the herbs I use are known for being extremely gentle, when you are using herbs and plants for their medicinal properties, they are just that – ‘medicinal’. If you wish to take a herbal remedy with prescribed medicines, and you are already taking medications you should talk to a pharmacist or your GP first – treat all herbal remedies with respect.
Neither the author nor the publisher can be held responsible for any adverse reactions to the recommendations in this article. The use of any herb or derivative is entirely at the reader’s own risk.