Dandelions: Love Your Liver
Yesterday while watching my hero, Martha Stewart, a guest in her audience asked the HORRIFYING question “Martha, what do I do to kill the dandelions growing in my garden?”
Martha and I simultaneously stopped everything we were doing and stared blankly at this woman for a few moments, not really understanding WHY someone would want to kill dandelions OR pump poison in their yard.
My multi-tasking came to a screaching halt as I anticipated Martha’s answer, fingers held hovering above the keyboard.
“Perhaps you should make some dandelion wine, or a nice green salad with the tender leaves instead of poisoning your yard with herbicides…” I proudly watched my mentor respond.
*Ding Another Life Saved*
Oh how I love Martha Stewart!
I can’t tell you how happy it made me to see a popular figure on television advocating for the herbs that grow around us. Yes, people dandelions are an herb. Not a weed. The difference is that herbs serve a purpose. Weeds do not. Many things we think of as “weeds” are indeed actually “herbs” once you make friends with them.
In my mind there is no herb more glorious than the dandelion. No flower more beautiful. Nothing more magical or miraculous. Any rose can be beautiful with enough fertilizer, weed killer, manual aphid plucking, and diligent daily watering. But, frankly I have a tough time respecting something so persnickety. I admire a flower with the tenacity to grow through a crack in the pavement and still come out bright yellow and full of sunshine. Dandelions also refuse to be cut flowers. They will not play that game, they will not sit in a vase for you and look pretty. You have to enjoy them on their terms.
What they will do for you though is provide you with an invaluable source of free medicine. Dandelions cleanse your liver, lower your blood pressure, rejuvenate you for spring, reduce water retention and blood pressure through their diuretic mechanism, improve digestion and nourish you with potassium, vitamin K, and minerals.
Did you know you had such an AMAZING medicine growing right in your backyard?
If your yard is organic you can pick some of the fresh green leaves and add them to a salad. Bitter greens stimulate our digestion as they hit the bitter receptors at the back of our tongue which are innervated by the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve moves bile (and thus toxins) through our livers as well as stimulates the peristaltic activity that moves the digestive process along. Bitters are imperative for those with sluggish digestion and constipation. America is a sweet tooth culture and the best thing we can do is balance out all that sweet with some bitter. A nice bitter salad before dinner is great for getting the digestive juices flowing. You can add some fresh flowers as garnish. Just pick them right before serving so they aren’t wilty.
The entire plant is full of medicine. The leaves of Taraxicum officinale lower blood pressure. Most diuretic anti-hypertensives deplete potassium stores, but dandelion comes conveniently packaged with potassium!
Now mild cases of hypertension and edema will respond to this plant, but more moderate and severe cases will most likely need a stronger herb.
The root of the plant can be dug up in the fall and used as a liver tonic. So if you REALLY want less dandelions in your yard then just harvest them every fall, or just call me up and I’ll come by and get them for you.
I guess that is the best way to get rid of the dandelions…use them up!
Chances are if they are growing in your yard, you probably need them.
“Friend O’ Dandelions”