Monday, May 9, 2011

Digestive Health, Detoxification, and More: Dandelion to the Rescue!

As I research the lowly plant that was once considered a pesky weed I am overwhelmed by a humbling sensation of respect and bow my head in abject apology for every vitamin-filled spiky leaf I weeded away from our family lawn when growing up.  Who knew that Dandelion, with its spiky leaves and bright yellow flower that turns into a magical puff that rides the wind, is perhaps one of the most interesting plants in nature’s encyclopedia of medicinals!

The Wise Ones Always Knew…
The ancients knew, as did all of the wise herbalists throughout the ages.  Officially known as  “taraxacum officinale,” dandelion was used as a medicinal by Arab physicians in the 10th century and by the Welsh in the 13th century as a way to diminish the devastating symptoms of a malfunctioning liver and gallbladder.  In the 16th century, dandelion was called “omniboria” or cure all for its powerful ability to diminish the effects of a plethora of illnesses without causing side effects.  All throughout time, dandelion was placed in soups and teas and made into tinctures to treat people with a wide array of physical problems.

Now We Know Too…
Today dandelion is definitely and officially at the head of the list for boosting liver health and as a recognized treatment for jaundice, hepatitis, cirrhosis, and many other diseases.  The Federal Drug Administration in the United States has placed the plant on the list of safe foods and it is approved by the Council of Europe as an extremely viable medicinal plant. According to many nutritional surveys, dandelion ranks as one of the top four green vegetables for having the greatest overall nutritional value including beta-carotene, and is considered the third richest source of vitamin A of all foods.  Because of its high fiber content it helps with gastro-intestinal problems and with its high concentration of mucilage, it is also good for sore throats and congestion. 

Dandelion and Its Nutrients
Dandelion contains some very interesting compounds, including tarazacin, acrystaline, taraxacerin, which have medicinal properties. It also is high in  vitamins A, C, D, B complex, boron, calcium, choline, copper, iron, , magnesium, manganese, potassium, silicon, and zinc. Known as dente de lion or lion’s teeth in South America and other Spanish speaking countries, dandelion packs a powerful bite in terms of its wide range of healing benefits such as:

·      Encouraging normal digestion by stimulating the digestive glands
·      Eliminates excess acid in the system
·      Treats constipation
·      Reduces bloating
·      Helps produce bile to absorbs fats and nutrients and help eliminate toxins
·      Reduces toxins in the liver
·      Helps reduce symptoms relating to jaundice, cirrhosis, and hepatitis
·      Reduces toxins in the gallbladder
·      Helps remove gallstones
·      Reduces toxins in the kidneys
·      Detoxifies the body by stimulating urination
·      Replaces lost potassium due to excessive urination
·      Reduces side effects of prescription medicines
·      Treats infections
·      Reduces swelling, including edema and other forms of water retention
·      Reduces symptoms of pneumonia
·      Helps eliminate viruses
·      Treats anemia
·      Helps to purify the blood
·      Reduces cellulite
·      Cleanses and improves the skin, helping to discourage eruptions
·      Lowers serum cholesterol
·      Helps with weight control
·      Helps in cases of type 1 and 2 diabetes

Daily Dandelion Detox
Incorporating dandelion into your diet is a brilliant way to help maintain optimum health.  Fresh organically growth dandelion leaves in a salad or quickly steamed and eaten over grains make for a delicious meal.  Buy it as a loose tea and steep a tablespoonful in boiled water, or combine it with other medicinal teas such as malva, boldo, or milk thistle to make a powerful and soothing body cleansing potion.  Add honey if you need a sweetener, strain, and enjoy!  You can also take dandelion in tincture or vitamin form, ingesting according to directions. 

Word to the Wise: Though dandelion does not seem to have side effects, it is always essential to talk to your healthcare provider before beginning a protocol.  Pregnant and breast-feeding women should avoid dandelion due to its diuretic properties.

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