Dandelion Root – (Taraxacum officinale)

dandelion root

Dandelion root, seen by most as a pesky weed and commonly found in every yard in America, has been used in natural medicine for centuries across the world.  Two of it’s main uses are to stimulate the appetite and as a digestive aid, but there are many more uses.

Dandelion roots are usually harvested in the late fall or early spring as the dormant plants stored energy is in the root.  They are allowed to air dry for several weeks and afterwards will last for years if stored in a cool dark place.  Dandelion has a high level of soluble fiber called inulin.  Inulin contains a complex carbohydrate known as fructooligosaccharide, which increases insulin sensitivity in the body.  For this reason, Dandelion root is viewed as useful in treating pre-diabetes.

It is also used as a detoxifying agent due to the naturally occurring phytochemicals that have a diuretic effect on the body.  In simpler terms, it increases the frequency of urination and promotes the expulsion of water from the body.  This process effectively cleanses the body by washing toxins away in the process.  Dandelion is often given to patients suffering from conditions where a diuretic is useful.  These include, but aren’t limited to high blood pressure, liver problems and some types of kidney diseases.

As noted earlier, it can also act as a mild laxative and has been used to improve digestion.   Additionally, research suggests dandelion may help improve overall liver and gallbladder functions.

Dandelion Root as a Coffee Substitute

The root can be used to make a coffee substitute.  Add about 1/8 of a cup of dried roots to a medium pot. Toast them over medium-high heat until they become fragrant (keep them moving to avoid burnt spots).  Add three cups of water (or more for a milder finished product) and bring to a boil for about thirty seconds.  Reduce heat and simmer for forty minutes, strain and serve hot.  You can add fresh cream, honey, butter (yes, try it), or just about anything else for flavor.  It is caffeine free.

Topical Use

Topically, dandelion root can be be used for boils, rashes, eczema, acne, and psoriasis.  To use, first grind the root into a powder and mix with enough water to make a thick paste.  Cover the area and allow to dry.  Use as needed.  It’s best to test a small area of your skin before applying to a lager space to determine if any reaction (rare) occurs.

Dandelion root is considered safe and well tolerated.  Known side effects are rare, but include mild heartburn, stomach aches, diarrhea, possibly contact dermatitis. 

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