The difference between a flower and a weed is a judgment.
– Author Unknown –
Natures Regenerative Healer
We have so much to learn from the dandelion. It’s a plant that grows persistently, regardless of how hard we try to kill it.
It’s one of natures first flowers in the spring, offering food to the pollinators after a long winter. Its roots grow deep, able to survive in a variety of conditions, poking through cracks of pavement and abandoned gardens.
The resiliency of the dandelion, its ability to persevere in the harshest of environments is powerful medicine.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. If you are in need of medical attention, seek the advice of a trained medical professional.
The Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Throughout history, dandelions have been used for their medicine to treat a variety of ailments but it is best known for its influence on the liver, digestive system and kidneys.
Note of caution if you have an allergy to the asteraceae family, dandelion may cause a reaction.
Part of the Asteraceae family, the dandelion is a perennial, found world wide in USDA zones 3 to 10. The whole plant (roots, leaves, stems and flowers) can be used medicinally.
Dandelions contain a variety of vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, boron, calcium, silicon, potassium, vitamins A, B complex, C and D.
Its energetics are cooling and moistening. It is bitter and slightly sweet in taste and is commonly referred to as a spring tonic.
The Benefits of Dandelion
Known as a detoxifying herb, dandelion is used for sluggish, lethargic conditions.
It has diuretic properties that influence the kidneys and urinary tract although its high potassium content does not deplete the body like conventional diuretic medications can.
The roots of dandelion influence the digestive system whereas the leaves have more influence on the kidneys and urinary system.
Dandelion medicine is used for sluggish, lethargic conditions; slow digestion, sluggish bile, liver, gallbladder and kidneys.
A healthy moving digestive and urinary system helps the body detoxify. This will help a wide range of conditions from poor digestion, urinary problems, fluid retention as well as skin issues such as eczema and acne.
What are some different ways to use dandelions as medicine?
Dandelions are a great plant to work with, especially if you’re new to herbalism. They are safe, easy to identify and can be used in a variety of ways.
The young leaves of dandelion can be added to salads, the roots can be roasted and substituted for coffee and the flowers made into wine.
Dandelion tea is one of the easiest ways to use dandelion. Simply harvest and rinse the plant (ensuring the area has not been sprayed with chemicals), add hot water, letting it steep for 10-15 minutes before straining to enjoy. Dandelion tea can be made with roots, leaves and flowers.
Tinctures, once you know the basics of how to make them, are another easy way to use dandelions. Tinctures have a long shelf life and are so convenient to use. They can easily be taken throughout the day, stored and brought with you if needed.
What is a tincture and how does it work?
Tinctures are liquid extracts made using herbs and alcohol. The alcohol (usually 80 – 100 proof vodka) extracts the medicinal properties from the plant as it steeps for approximately 4-6 weeks. The plant material is then filtered from the liquid, creating a tincture ready to be used. Tinctures are easy to use and last indefinitely.
There are a few different ways to make tinctures. I use the folk method of tincture making which is a simple, practical way for the home herbalist as it relies more on an estimation of herb to alcohol ratio rather than an exact measurement of weight and volume.
What is dandelion tincture good for?
Dandelion tinctures are helpful for sluggish, lethargic conditions. Slow digestion, fatigue after eating, fluid retention and general lethargy (both mentally and physically) will benefit from dandelion. Tinctures are a convenient way to have dandelion medicine on hand.
How To Make Your Own Fresh Herb Dandelion Tincture (Folk Method)
I like to use the whole plant (roots, leaves, stems, flowers) when making dandelion tincture.
When harvesting, make sure to only pick from an area that has not been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides.
You can harvest throughout the growing season, I harvest when the dandelions are at their peak in full bloom.
- Collect your roots, leaves, stems and flowers, shake off excess soil and give a good rinse, making sure to clean off soil and hidden insects.
- Spread out on a clean surface to dry.
- Once dry, chop up herb into small pieces (this allows better absorption of medicinal properties into your tincture).
- Place chopped dandelion into a mason jar, approximately 2/3 or more full. If using dried herbs, you would use approximately half since dried herbs will expand in liquid.
- Fill jar with alcohol (80 – 100 proof). 40% Vodka (80 proof) works well. Make sure alcohol covers all plant material.
- Unless you have a glass lid, place a square of wax paper on top before securing. The wax paper will keep the alcohol from rusting the metal of the mason jar lid.
- Label your tincture with the name of plant, parts of plant used, alcohol and date it was made. You can add more details if you like such as Latin name of the plant, ratio of herb to solvent used, source of ingredients (wild/organic), and dosage recommendations.
- Let the tincture sit in a dark cupboard for 4 to 6 weeks, giving it a shake once in awhile. You will see it darkening as the medicinal properties are extracted.
- Once it is ready, strain using a cheesecloth lined strainer over a large measuring cup. I usually leave the jar upside down in the strainer for a few hours to let the liquid drip out.
- Once strained, pour into a mason jar, amber bottle or tincture bottles for use. Remember to label these jars as well.
- Keep stored in a dark cupboard and use as needed. Tinctures will last indefinitely.