In manicured yards across the country, millions of homeowners are gearing up to begin their yearly Spring battle with the weeds. They’re visiting their local hardware stores and garden centers, filling their carts with herbicide sprays, masks and gloves, and joining a billion dollar industry. Searching the aisles for the best new tools…long handled forks, tweezers, pullers, and poppers of weeds.
They’re scanning their neighbors’ yards in fear and disdain. Scanning for a lone yellow flower; the traveling enemy that may decide to set root on their own side of the fence. Even Crayola bid farewell to Dandelion, retiring the crayon from their 128-pack of crayons in 2017.
Do they know that their perceived worst enemy is one of the best natural healers in herbal medicine?
Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) belong to the Asteraceae family, the family of our beloved Sunflowers. The yellow flowers grow just about everywhere that humans are. Dandelions, the healers of the land and our bodies keep showing up, year after year. Their long taproots aerate the soil, reduce erosion, and with the help of fungi, reduce toxins in the soil. They’ve crossed continents and spread across lands to the areas and people that are in need healing. They can be seen in meadows, between cracks in sidewalks, along highways, and popping up in abundance in the lawns of those who cherish the gifts that Mother Earth brings to us.
The yellow flower head of Dandelion is not one flower, but actually an entire community of hundreds of flowers working in unity. This community takes part in a beautifully orchestrated dance that begins at sunrise when the flower head opens exposing the reproductive organs…a pollinator’s dream. As the flowers absorb the rays of the sun, bumblebees, honeybees, and butterflies, the creators of life, visit throughout the day. As the sun dips below the horizon, the flower head closes, perhaps in quiet reflection of a good day’s work. With each new day, the dance begins again.
Each flower forms a specialized seed with feathery-parachute structures which come together in a delicate, magical globe. The place that childhood dreams are made.
Who doesn’t remember the joys of summer, running through fields, picking balls of fluff, making wishes and blowing them into the wind?
Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses:
Dandelion has diuretic and laxative properties. It detoxifies the liver and helps with detoxifying when hungover. It is used for urinary disorders, gallstones, chronic skin conditions, and recurrent infections. Dandelion stabilizes blood sugar, improves digestion, and lowers blood pressure.
Parts used for tea:
Flowers, leaves, stems, roots
Dandelion seeds propagate easily and can be found in meadows, pastures, and along sunny trails. Find an area that you know is free from toxic pesticides. They are easy to grow by seed in your garden and they will spread.
Harvesting and Preserving
Flowers: The flower heads of dandelion are abundant from mid-April through the end of May. Pick the flowers on sunny days after the dew has evaporated in the sun. If you drive around on rainy days looking for meadows and lawns sprinkled with dandelions, you’ll most likely miss them. Their flowers are gently tucked away on these perfect days of inner reflection.
Because of the milky sap (latex) flowing through the plant, dandelion flower heads can be difficult to dry thoroughly without mold forming. I prefer to pick the flowers in season and use them fresh for teas. Another great option for preserving them is to freeze them. Lay them flat on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer. Once frozen, store them in a freezer safe container or bag.
Leaves: Harvest the leaves of young plants in early spring when they are less bitter. The leaves can be used fresh in tea or dried by laying them flat in a single layer
Roots: Roots are best harvested in the fall of their second year. They are less bitter and the inulin content is highest. Inulin is a natural prebiotic found in certain vegetables and herbs that can help to restore a healthy balance of microorganisms in your gut. Be prepared to dig and pull. Fresh roots can be used for tea, but tends to be bitter.
Should I grow and harvest or buy Dandelions already dried?
Harvest Fresh Flowers: I haven’t found any sources that sell dried dandelion flowers, so I pick them in season and use them fresh for a healing Spring tea. Be sure the area is free of toxic pesticides.
Buy Dried Roots: Dandelion roots can be difficult to harvest due to the long tap root and the smaller hairlike roots that grip into the soil. But it has been done for centuries, so if you want a fun adventure, dig away!
At this time in my life, I prefer to buy dried dandelion root and roasted dandelion root online. My favorite online shop for organic herbs is Mountain Rose Herbs.
Leaves and Stems: Bitter greens
Roots: Dried: earthy, Roasted: coffee-like
Making Hot Tea Infusions:
Flowers: Pick 5-10 dandelion flowers. Wash gently. Place the flowers in a teacup and add 8-10 ounces of hot water (Boil the water and allow to sit for 30 seconds). Steep for 5 minutes. Leave the flowers in the teacup as you enjoy your cup of tea. The cooked flowers are edible, nutritious, and delicious.
Leaves: Pick 6-8 young leaves and gently rinse and cut them into small pieces. Or use 1 tbsp of dried leaves. Place the leaves in your infuser. Add 8-10 ounces of hot water (Boil the water and allow to sit for 30 seconds). Steep for 5 minutes. Remove the infuser and enjoy your cup of tea.
Roots: Add 1 tbsp of dried root, 1 tbsp roasted root, or 2 tbsp fresh root to your infuser. Add 8-10 ounces of hot water (Boil the water and allow to sit for 30 seconds). Steep for 5-10 minutes. Remove the infuser and enjoy your cup of tea.
Making a decoction: Add 2 tablespoon of dried root or 4 tablespoon of fresh root with 8-10 ounces of water to a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the decoction by pouring it through an infuser. Enjoy your cup of tea.
Chakra Tea Meditation with Dandelion:
Use the flowers, leaves, roots, or a combination of all three for your Dandelion Meditation.
As your herbal tea is infusing, consider the following…
Symbolism and Messages from Dandelion with Journaling prompts:
Depending on how you perceive them, dandelions are either a burden or of value to you. Their roots are strong and run deep. They are healers of the land and our bodies. Their seeds are a symbol of childhood wishes and dreams.
Consider the following questions:
• How much time and effort do I spend thinking about the things that I don’t want in my life?
• What am I fighting against or trying to remove from my life?
• Is there something that is a challenge that I would like a new perspective on?
In your journal, write a list of the seeds that you want to plant for your future
Consider the following questions:
What am I good at?
What do I enjoy doing?
What would I like to do more of?
What would I like to attract into my life?
What dreams would I like to see fulfilled?
What have I always dreamed would be true for me?
Before you begin, contemplate this question?
How would my life be different if I spent less time pulling weeds and more time planting seeds?
Chakra Tea Meditation with Dandelion
Hold your cup of tea just below your mouth. Inhale through your nose as you take in the aroma of your Dandelion tea. Close your eyes. Imagine holding a dandelion puff ball. Each seed represents a seed of joy and potential waiting to be planted and fulfilled. Exhale and blow the seeds. Watch them float through the air, spreading in all directions. A gentle breeze blows and furthers their journey. Although some land and take root in front of you, others continue to float through the air to grow beyond your sight. Trust that all will be planted and greet you in the future. Continue now with slow inhalations and exhalations, breathing through your chakras. Gently breathe through any areas of tension and discomfort.