Most people know dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis) as a garden weed, but this rugged little plant has been used to make a delicious and nutritious tea for centuries. The root is dug up in the fall when the inulin (a natural dietary fiber) properties are strongest. Dried dandelion root tea has a light, refreshing taste with slightly bitter undertones. Roasted dandelion root tea makes a refreshing coffee flavored drink.
Dandelion root has flavonoids such as lutein, flavoxanthin and violaxanthin, which increase the flow of urine. These flavonoids also serve to reduce muscle spasms and intestinal inflammation. People suffering from edema, premenstrual bloating and urine retention due to a bladder infection will find relief in a few cups of dandelion root tea.
Dandelion root has significant amounts of inulin and pectin which, according to Mark Pederen’s book “Nutritional Herbaology,” “sooth the digestive tract, absorb toxins from digested food and regulate the colonies of intestinal bacteria, which produce toxins intended to kill other bacteria as a self preservation instinct.” This is how dandelion encourages friendly bacteria while discouraging unfriendly bacteria.
Because of dandelion’s bitter constituents, this herb increases bile production. The extra bile triggers the liver to flush stored toxins. This property is helpful for patients with a liver damaged by alcohol or improper diets. The bitter resin in dandelion holds up well in the drying process, but can cause upset stomachs if consumed excessively.
Dandelion has a healthy balance of trace minerals, electrolytes and vitamins. 100 g of dried dandelion root contains 1,200 mg of potassium and 14,000 IUs of vitamin A (beta-carotene). The potassium replaces electrolytes lost due dandelion’s diuretic effects. The vitamin A replaces the beta-carotene lost due to the dandelion’s liver stimulating effects.
About this Author
Sue Sierralupe has been a freelance writer for more than 15 years. She teaches classes in sustainability, herbal medicine and native plants all over Oregon. Sierralupe is a certified medical herbalist, master gardener and sustainable landscaper. She writes about these subjects on her website at Thepracticalherbalist.com.