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The Herbalists Diary on a Dandelion

Updated: May 2, 2019

Published May 4th, 2019



“The difference between an herb and a weed is judgment.” – old gardener’s saying


April showers bring may flowers, and one of the most beautiful and underrated of them all is the dandelion. The entire plant of the dandelion is edible. the greens + roots of the dandelions are even medicinal. Dandelions are among the first wildflowers to bloom in the spring making them a very important flower for our honey bees and other pollinator friends. They can cover fields in their vibrant yellow flowers in early spring. As the flower petals dry they become the fluffy balls of white seeds, which blow in the breeze to pollinate. The dandelion has both male and female organs on the same flower meaning they can pollinate themselves. Most people view them as a pesky weed but in this small article we will discuss why you should love dandelions, not kill them.. along with free recipes at the end, utilizing the entire dandelion plant.




Save the pollinators: Dandelions are a vital source of food for our honey bees and other pollinators, so let them grow! Since they are among the first of the flowers to bloom in early spring, this means that they are the first to produce nectar and pollen for our honey bees. These bees are living off of the same wintered honey and pollen for months. The dandelion flowers provide fresh nutrient dense meals are that are crucial for the colonies strength in the year to come. Unfortunately in many parts of the United States dandelions are still viewed as a ‘pesky weeds’, and consequently are sprayed with weed killers such as Roundup. Roundup has been proven to be detrimental to the health and vitality of honeybees, often killing them on contact or within a 24 hour span [1] Glyphosate has also been linked to cancer in humans [8]. Some honey bees even bring the poisoned pollen back to the hungry colony which contaminates the supply and can possibly lead to killing more bees or tainting the honey supply for human consumption. The honey bees need our help just as much as we need theirs. Help a honey bee today by letting your dandelion grow!


The fun of foraging: The flowers, leaves and the roots of the dandelion plant are edible and even hold significant nutritional value [2]. Every single part of the Dandelion plant can be made into many delicious things. The flowers can be made into tea, or be used to flavor kombucha with an earthy floral taste. The greens can be eaten raw, cooked down, made into dietary supplements, teas, used to make body products such as soaps, and more. The roots can be dried and turned into a coffee supplement, teas, medicine and more… the possibilities are endless! Make sure you harvest from herbicide + pesticide free lands, never by road rides or from random yards. Read more about harvesting dandelions below.


Spring Flora Harvest from the Holistic Hut Homestead circa 2018

Beautiful Spring Memories:

There is nothing that says spring like a large field of wildflowers, as far as the eye can see. The bright yellow flower of the dandelion is beautiful in contrast of the lush green fields they thrive on. This makes the perfect scenery for spring picnics with photoshoots and foraging! The flowers of the dandelion are edible. They are beautiful toppings to fresh salads or garnishing on summer cakes. Make sure you harvest from organic farm lands.


Medicinal Purposes:

Dandelion is a medicinal herb most commonly known for its liver and blood purifying properties. For a long time, Dandelion has been used in traditional medical systems, including Native American, traditional Chinese, and traditional Arabic medicine [2]. Dandelion is used as  popular medicine in Turkey and Mexico for the control of type 2 diabetes (T2D) [3]

There are about 2,800 known species of the Taraxacum genus. All species are edible, but some species are more commonly used for medicinal purposes. For example, The biochemistry of the Taraxacum officinale shows anti-diabetic, anti-oxidative, and anti-inflammatory properties, while the biochemistry of the Taraxacum platycarpum is more shown to treat T2D and hepatic diseases, as seen in traditional chinese medicine. [4,5,7] Harvesting the dandelion from the right region, at the right time of the year, is crucial for nutrient dense medicine.[9]


What is even more amazing is the groundbreaking studies showing dandelion root effectivly extract kills cancer cells while leaving healthy cells undamaged[10]! Dandelion root extract is now undergoing phase one clinical trials in hematological cancers. "Their use might prove not only efficacious, but also associated with fewer and less severe side-effects and, thus, improve the quality of life and possibly increase the lifespan of cancer patients." Read fill quote below.


Our results showed that aqueous dandelion root extract (DRE) efficiently and selectively triggers programmed cell death pathways in in-vitro and in-vivo colorectal cancer models. The results confirmed our hypothesis that the molecular complexity of the DRE extract is responsible for its anti-cancer activity, as it allows the engaging of multiple signaling pathways in cancer cells, including the mitochondria. Therefore, we can conclude that DRE, as a complex mixture might provide a complementary alternative to currently available chemotherapies. With these results, DRE is approved by Health Canada for Phase I clinical trials in hematological cancers. Their use might prove not only efficacious, but also associated with fewer and less severe side-effects and, thus, improve the quality of life and possibly increase the lifespan of cancer patients.

Do diligent research into your herbal practitioners. Take into account the quality and freshness of the herb. Was it harvested at the proper time of the year and was there is integrity in the manner the herbalist harvest, dried and stored their medicine to avoid cross contamination or micro-contaminates?


Toxicity and warnings

Data on safe doses of dandelion supplements are limited but so far no reports of toxicity has arisen making the FDA label it non toxic and safe for human consumption. Dandelion supplements can cause allergic reactions in some people. People should not use dandelion supplements if they are sensitive to dandelions or certain other plants, such as ragweed, daisies, or chrysanthemums, or marigolds.

People trying supplements should follow instructions on the bottle for recommended doses and always speak to a doctor before taking them.



Harvesting Dandelion:

Roots + Greens:

When harvesting dandelion it important to look for thick rich in nutrient soil that is free of pesticides and contaminates. Bring along a sturdy fork to harvest because the tap root is strong and grounded. For medicinal harvesting it is best to do it from late fall to early spring. This is when the stems and flowers are dormant and the root is at its most nutritional density. For medicinal use, most sources say fall harvest is best. This is because the levels of inulin (insoluble fiber) are higher and the fructose levels are lower. This is due to the cold temperatures converting the fructose to inulin [9]. Harvesting after a rain will make the extraction easier. You want the extraction to go as smoothly as possible to prevent unnecessary damage to the primary root. The branch roots left behind in the soil will produce new primary roots. Caution: Unnecessary damage to the primary root will make it bleed its sap, which stores most of its medicinal properties.


To dry and store roots:

Rinse the roots thoroughly, cut into 1 inch wide by 3 inch long sections, place them in a heat free dehydration chamber to dry or place in brown paper bag and store in dark place for 1 week

Use within 1 year, store in a brown paper bag and label with the genus, species if you know it, part of the plant, and the date you harvested.

To dry and store leaves:

Rinse the leaves thoroughly, tie the end of the leaves with hemp chord, hand in a dark sterile cabinet for 1 weeks until dried. Use within 1 year, store in a brown paper bag and label with the genus, species if you know it, part of the plant, and the date you harvested.


Stems + Flowers:

Stems and flowers hold the most nutritional value in early spring. This rings true for the bees as well. It is my personal belief to leave the most nutrient dense flowers for the hard working pollinators since their food source is dwindling. But if you need dandelion flowers for medicinal purposes the best time to harvest is early spring. Cut the flowers off, use fresh in extractions and foods. Once they dry they turn to white seed. If this happens Kindly disperse the seed throughout your heard for more flowers to come in the latter months.



DIY SPRING EXTRACTIONS

Brought to you by Holistic Hut



Dandelion Root Tincture

You will need:

-Sterile Mason Jar (with an airtight lid)

-100 proof vodka

-Dandelion Root

-Label

-Pen


Instructions:

-Clean and cut the dandelion root

-Place in brown paper bag and store in dry cabinet for 1 week to dry -Once the roots have drive, place in sterile mason jar

-add the alcohol at a 5 to 1 ratio (i.e. 5 cups of vodka to 1 cup of dried roots). -If you are using fresh roots, use a 2 to 1 ratio instead (i.e. 2 cups of vodka to 1 cup of fresh roots)

-Label with the Genus and Species of the plant, identify the plant part,include the date you started the tincture.

-Store in a dark for 6-8 weeks (4 weeks if used fresh root) Shake once every 4 days.

-Strain plant material and bottle tincture into glass amber bottles -Label bottles with the above information. Use within one year for most potent medicine.

Directions: Add 10 drops of tincture in tea or water...

-before eating to prevent gas

-after eating to prevent heart burn

-as a gentle diuretic

-to help with water retention

-to purify the liver

-use daily to help with cholesterol, blood sugar and inflammation


Dandelion Leaf Tincture

You will need:

-Sterile Mason Jar (with an airtight lid)

-100 proof vodka

-Dandelion Leaf

-Label

-Pen


Instructions:

-Clean the dandelion leaves

-Place in brown paper bag and store in dry cabinet for 1 week to dry -Once the leaves have drive, place in sterile mason jar

-add the alcohol at a 5 to 1 ratio (i.e. 5 cups of vodka to 1 cup of dried roots). -If you are using fresh roots, use a 2 to 1 ratio instead (i.e. 2 cups of vodka to 1 cup of fresh roots)

-Label with the Genus and Species of the plant, identify the plant part,include the date you started the tincture.

-Store in a dark for 6-8 weeks (4 weeks if used fresh root) Shake once every 4 days.

-Strain plant material and bottle tincture into glass amber bottles -Label bottles with the above information. Use within one year for most potent medicine.


Uses: good source of Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Iron, Potassium and Manganese.

Directions: Add 10 drops of tincture in tea day boost in minerals and vitamins.



Dandelion Honey Infusion Artisanal:


You will need:

-x2 Sterile Mason Jar

-Fresh + Rinsed Dandelion Flowers

-Raw Honey

-x2 Label

-Pen

-Strainer


Instructions

-Pick enough fresh dandelion flowers to semi-loosely pack a mason jar

-Submerge in raw honey

-Label your honey and origin of honey, as well as your Dandelion and origin of the dandelion. If you know what species of dandelion it is include this information. Include the date created

-This will create a beautiful infusion, but sadly you have to store it in a dark place for at least 2 weeks (you can still show your friends when they come over) -After two weeks, strain the honey from all plant material and store in a sterile airtight mason jar

-Label your honey and origin of honey, as well as your Dandelion and origin of the dandelion. If you know what species of dandelion it is include this information. Include the date created



Dandelion Honey Infusion Medicinal:

You will need:

-x2Sterile Mason Jar

-Dried Dandelion Leaves and Stems

-Raw Honey

-x2 Label

-Pen

-Strainer


Instructions:

-Add plant material to sterile glass jar

-Using a 5:1 ratio (5 parts honey to one part dried plant material) submerge the plant material in raw honey

-Label your honey and origin of honey, as well as your Dandelion and origin of the dandelion. If you know what species of dandelion it is include this information. Include the date created

-Store it in a dark place for at least 2 weeks

-After two weeks, strain the honey from all plant material and store in a sterile airtight mason jar

-Label your honey and origin of honey, as well as your Dandelion and origin of the dandelion. If you know what species of dandelion it is include this information. Include the date created



Dandelion Syrup:

You will need: -12 Ounces Fresh Dandelion Flower (petals only)

-1 ½ Cups Raw Cane Sugar (or date sugar)

-Water (enough to submerge the petals)

-1 Lemon

-Strainer or Cheesecloth

-Sterile Glass Container

-Sterile Stainless Steel Cooking Pan

-Sterile Airtight Mason Jar

-Label

-Pen


Instructions:

-Harvest fresh organic dandelions and rinse them

-Pluck all the petals from the dandelion flower and add in glass jar

-Submerge the petals with just enough water to completely cover them

-Let the petals infuse into the water over night in the fridge

-Strain the petals from water using mesh strainer or cheesecloth

-While strainer is intact juice a whole lemon, straining any seeds or pulp

-Add dandelion water to sauce pan

-Bring to a boil

-Stir in the sugar

-Bring boil down to medium heat and stir often for 45 minutes or until a thin syrup forms

-Bottle the syrup in airtight mason jar

-Write label including the name “Dandelion Syrup”, ingredients, and date made

-Keep refrigerated and use within 6 months.



Dandelion Kombucha:

Kombucha is a fun and easy to make fermented tea, which is full of millions of probiotics. To make Kombucha you need a S.C.O.B.Y (scoby), pure sugar or raw honey, and black tea, green tea or oolong tea. The most common used tea is black tea but in this recipe I will use a mixture of black tea and green tea to compliment the flavor of the kombucha.


You will need:

-Organic Black Tea

-Organic Green Tea

-Scoby

-Pure Cane Sugar

-Stainless steel pot

-Half Gallon Sized Mason Jar

-Reusable Ferment Bottles

-Dandelion Flowers

-Dandelion Syrup (or agave) *** optional

-Funnel


Instructions on first ferment: - Bring a half gallon of water to a boil in a stainless steel pot

- Stir in 1 cup of sugar

- Take off of heat

- Add in 10 organic black tea bags

- Add in 10 organic green tea bags  

- Steep until tea in room temperature

- Take out tea bags and compost accordingly

- Add tea to large sterile mason jar

- Add S.C.O.B.Y

-Cover jar with cheese cloth (or coffee filter) held in place with a rubber band

- Place in dark area for 1 week while it ferments


Instructions on second ferment:

- Prep your sterile 8 oz reusable ferment bottles

- Add in ½ cup of fresh dandelion flowers and two tablespoons of dandelion syrup to each bottle

- Using the funnel, fill bottle 5/7 of the way with the first ferment

- Secure lid and shake for a consistent solution

- Store out in the open on a counter for a week, ferment bottles are self burping

- Once you see bubbles visible through the bottle its ready to drink, open over the sink incase it volcanos over!


This dandelion kombucha is hands down one of my favorite. Its earthy and sweet floral taste makes for the perfect spring drink. Drink within one month of making.


Coffee Supplement:

You can roast the roots of the dandelion and use them to replace your morning coffee with a medicinal caffeine free beverage that offers a rich and bold taste. Best time to harvest roots for your own coffee is in early spring or late fall. Any time there are dandelion leaves visible but not any stem or flower; during this time the dandelion root holds the highest levels of nutritional density. Once the stem and flower are in bloom the nutrients are dispersed into the rest of the plant; making it a good time to harvest flowers and greens. Want to learn more on the process of making Dandelion Root Coffee? Click here to navigate to a delicious vegan recipe created by an established holistic practitioner.


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Shifting to a holistic lifestyle doesn't have to be an overnight change. Each day we are given a chance to learn about what our lifestyle is impacting, and to make a change to better our life and our planet. Interact with the blog ,what did you think of this week's article and what would you like to see next week? More beauty posts, health / herb posts, gardening posts? Comment, share and thanks for reading!


Tell me what you want to hear about next. New content posted every Saturday



© 2017-2019 Kele Carter All rights reserved

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Sources:

[1]Yu Cheng Zhu ,Jianxiu Yao, John Adamczyk, Randall Luttrell.Synergistic toxicity and physiological impact of imidacloprid alone and binary mixtures with seven representative pesticides on honey bee (Apis mellifera).May 3, 2017 [Journal]

[2] “”Dandelion: ...fact sheet...””.2016;D302 [NCCIH]

[3] Onal S, Timur S, Okutucu B, Zihnioğlu F. Prep Biochem Biotechnol. Inhibition of alpha-glucosidase by aqueous extracts of some potent antidiabetic medicinal herbs.

2005; 35(1):29-36.

[PubMed] [Ref list]

[4] Fonyuy E. Wirngo, Max N. Lambert, and  Per B. Jeppesen. The Physiological Effects of Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale) in Type 2 Diabetes. 2016;13(2-3): 113–131.

[5]Petlevski R, Hadzija M, Slijepcević M, Juretić D, Petrik J

Glutathione S-transferases and malondialdehyde in the liver of NOD mice on short-term treatment with plant mixture extract P-9801091. Phytother Res. 2003 Apr; 17(4):311-4.[PubMed] [Ref list]

[6]Arpadjan S, Celik G, Taşkesen S, Güçer S. Arsenic, cadmium and lead in medicinal herbs and their fractionation. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Aug; 46(8):2871-5.[PubMed] [Ref list]

[7] Cho AS, Jeon SM, Kim MJ, Yeo J, Seo KI, Choi MS, Lee MK. Chlorogenic acid exhibits anti-obesity property and improves lipid metabolism in high-fat diet-induced-obese mice. Food Chem Toxicol. 2010;48(3):937–943. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

[8] Jose V. Tarazona, Daniele Court-Marques, Manuela Tiramani, Hermine Reich, Rudolf Pfeil, Frederique Istace, and  Federica Crivellente. Glyphosate toxicity and carcinogenicity: a review of the scientific basis of the European Union assessment and its differences with IARC. Toxicity and carcinogenicity. 2017; 91(8): 2723–2743. [PubMed]

[9]Annual Variation in Sterol Levels in Leaves of Taraxacum officinale Weber.

Westerman L, Roddick JG. Plant Physiol. 1981 Oct; 68(4):872-5.[PubMed] [Ref list]

[10]Pamela Ovadje, Saleem Ammar, Jose-Antonio Guerrero, John Thor Arnason,and Siyaram Pandey. Dandelion root extract affects colorectal cancer proliferation and survival through the activation of multiple death signalling pathways. 2016 Nov 8; 7(45): 73080–73100. [RedList]

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