"Natural Healing with Herbs for a Healthier You"
THE BENEFITS OF THE USE OF DANDELION
IN HERBAL PREPARATIONS
HISTORY OF DANDELION
by Yashpal (Paul) Chhabra
The first mention of the Dandelion as a medicine is in the works of the Arabian physicians of the tenth and eleventh centuries, who speak of it as a sort of wild Endive, under the name of Taraxcacon. In this country, we find allusion to it in the Welsh medicines of the thirteenth century. Dandelion was much valued as a medicine in the times of Gerard and Parkinson, and is still extensively employed.
Dandelion roots have long been largely used on the Continent, and the plant is cultivated largely in India as a remedy for liver complaints. Dandelion (Indian Name: - Kukraundha or Kanphool) is a hardly perennial herb and a tasty salad vegetable. The flower stems of this plant grows up to a height of 30 cm. The sharply toothed leaves from flat rosettes on the ground. The common name dandelion comes from the French dent de lion, meaning lion's tooth and refers to the dentate leaf edges. A very common plant, dandelion grows wild almost everywhere. Dandelion is a native of Europe. In India it is found through Himalayas. Nutritionally, the dandelion has remarkable value. It contains almost as much iron as spinach, four times Vitamin A content. An analysis of dandelion shows it to consist of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Its mineral and Vitamin contents are calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, sodium, Vitamin A and C.
The root is perennial and tapering, simple or more or less branched, attaining in a good soil a length of a foot or more and 1/2 inch to an inch in diameter. Old roots divide at the crown into several heads. The root is fleshy and brittle, externally of a dark brown, internally white and abounding in an inodorous milky juice of bitter, but not disagreeable taste.
Only large, fleshy and well-formed roots should be collected, from plants two years old, not slender, forked ones. Roots produced in good soil are easier to dig up without breaking, and are thicker and less forked than those growing on waste places and by the roadside. Collectors should, therefore only dig in good, free soil, in moisture and shade, from meadowland. Dig up in wet weather, but not during frost, which materially lessens the activity of the roots. Avoid breaking the roots, using a long trowel or a fork, lifting steadily and carefully. Shake off as much of the earth as possible and then cleanse the roots, the easiest way being to leave them in a basket in a running stream so that the water covers them, for about an hour, or shake them, bunched, in a tank of clean water. Cut off the crowns of leaves, but be careful in so doing not to leave any scales on the top. Do not cut or slice the roots or the valuable milky juice on which their medicinal value depends will be wasted by bleeding.
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) continues to treat dandelion as a weed. The agency's official position is: "There is no convincing reason for believing it possesses any therapeutic virtues." Many herbalists of today disagree with that. They say that the FDA forgot to read their Ralph Waldo Emerson.
"What is a weed?" Emerson wrote. "A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered."
Thanks to some modern herbalists the dandelion's virtues have been well documented. Studies show that the dandelion to be a rich source of vitamins and minerals. The leaves have the highest vitamin A content of all greens. Herbalists say that dandelion root heads the list of excellent foods for the liver because of its relatively high amounts of choline which is an important nutrient for the liver. Dandelion leaves are a diuretic, meaning that they help flush excess water from the body. Dandelion flowers are well endowed with lecithin, a nutrient that has been proven useful in various liver ailments.