Monday, 27 April 2015

Natural Healing with Dandelion Wild Edible & Herbal Remedy

I love this humble, hardy little plant. The dandelion is the bane of many gardeners with its tenacious roots and resolve to bounce back despite any efforts to destroy it. That's part of its character that I love so much, its strength and resilience.

I also love its vibrant yellow colour blooming even brighter in the sunshine, but also cheery on more overcast days. It tends to close up however as evening approaches and when it senses wet weather is on the way. To gaze on its bright blossoms is uplifting for stress and moods, extracts of the flowers also add this warming colour to healing skin applications.

The whole plant is nutrient and cleansing so great for supporting our organs of detoxification, kidneys, liver and gall bladder. It's rich in potassium, calcium, iron, manganese and magnesium, vitamins A, B, C, K and more.

The bitter root has a stronger action on the liver and gall bladder, as a cholegogue, increases flow of bile, which improves a sluggish digestion, a great and gentle remedy for constipation, even suitable in pregnancy, compared to some of the stronger and more laxative herbal remedies.

The leaf is also bitter, but a bit gentler so more suitable for kidney cleansing, an effective diuretic, which is rich in potassium unlike pharmaceutical diuretics which depletes this mineral. It's a great aid for water retention and swelling. A herbalist who I used to work with when I was at Napier's Clinics, Dee Atkinson says she uses it as part of a blend to support swollen feet and ankles on long haul flights.

Its name in French 'Pissenlit', literally means to piss in the bed, so be aware that it does flush the system and increase urinary output. Perhaps don't take it just before bedtime!

The latex from the stem has been used as a traditional remedy to apply to warts, and also used to help heal burns and stings. Natural and wild first aid at its best!

The flower pollen also has anti infective benefits. Its flower is also rich in vitamins and minerals, so good to help heal skin irritations, strengthen skin quality and detox tissues to aid muscle and joint aches and pain. You can apply the oil directly on, or make into creams or balms for external use, use internally blended with salad dressings for a nutritious cleansing edible.

Someone on my facebook page said she thought she remembered someone making a wash for the skin and the eyes with the flowers too, and wondered if people thought its properties similar to calendula. I haven't come across any specific comparisons between dandelion and calendula as yet, but certainly with their yellow-orange colour they are rich in carotenes, particularly lutein and zeaxanthin, which convert to Vitamin A in the body, beneficial to eye and skin health.

The flowers are both rich in nutrients soothing to skin irritations applied as an infused oil. I would think of calendula as having more anti fungal benefits and better for skin granulation and healing, so better for cuts & grazes though dandelion flowers also would be beneficial. Certainly a lot more freely available growing everywhere, such a generous plant! Why not give it a go? Click here for the recipe.

For edible use the flower have a delicate, light floral taste, lovely to sprinkle the petals as a salad or meal garnish. The green bases add a little bitterness when infusing into an oil which promote detoxification but can be removed if for edible use and a less bitter flavour is preferred. I like to leave a bit of green myself for the cleansing effects.

You could also add in leaves to the mix to increase bitterness for a stronger detox effect, as it's good for generalised water retention and excess swelling, promoting anti inflammatory action. Be cautious of this if you have diagnosed health conditions, on medicines. Consult your GP and herbalist for guidance.

In Western countries, the leaves are gathered for spring salads or to use as a wilted bitter green in side dishes. The roots are more popularly eaten as a vegetable in Eastern countries like Japan.

The roots are well known roasted as a coffee substitute, although coffee lovers should be warned it doesn't really taste like coffee. It is however an extremely nutritious hot drink, which is more supportive to the bowels and less irritant to the kidneys compared to coffee, so certainly helpful if you are considering reducing coffee consumption. I like to mix roasted dandelion root with chai spices for an invigorating digestive drink, that blends well with nut and seed milks for a healthy milky hot drink alternative.

As a tea the flowers and leaves can be infused fresh or dried, and the dried roots boiled (decocted) for a detoxifying drink. Quite helpful for headaches linked with liver congestion and poor diet, or taken regularly when embarking on a period of cleansing and detoxification.

The seed heads are also fun for making wishes and therapeutic to play with. I spotted this video on Youtube recently which highlights one of the many fun things you can do with dandelion with kids and adults alike. Brought a big smile to my face :)

I have recently connected with Christine Argo, a naturopathic herbalist and high priestess of the Church of Nature, a non-denomination spiritual centre inspired by the healing power of nature. It's a beautiful concept, and right up my alley with my own passion for creative healing, nature and more spiritual approach to healthcare.

If that sounds like your kind of thing too, I'd invite you to check out her soulful natural healing work, particularly her recent radio show exploring the many uses and energy of our beloved Dandelion plant. You can listen in on this link to access the recording in the Nature's Channel FM archives, at her Power of Flowers to Heal show.

While listening in myself, I discovered that dandelion as a flower essence is absolutely perfect for me just now. These sunny, vibrant, social, generous little plants can be personified as folk who love life so much to the point of getting overwhelmed through wanting to do too much! Definitely a tendency I have. No wonder these lovely lion flowers are speaking to me so strongly at the moment!

I will make the flower remedy and try it out on myself, it's exactly what I feel I need. I also made a detoxing tea from the fresh flowers, which is an ideal complement to the reflexology and acupuncture treatments to support my flow and mobility which I am receiving from my wonderful friends and experienced colleagues Sue and Paul of The Natural Health Clinic, based at Meadowbank Sports Centre, Edinburgh not far from me. 

I intend to use the root more to feel grounded and improve my core and digestive processes which can get out of balance when I get all over-excited mentally and my head becomes top heavy just like dandelion's big round head on its thin little stem body! I had a lot of trouble with this especially when I was studying at university for my MA Philosophy and BSc Herbal Medicine honours degrees.

Eight years collectively of heavy duty mental focus, I'm still getting back into balance after all that! That's why I love hanging out with nature so much. I find it truly healing on every level.

I could go on waxing lyrical about my dandelion buddies, but I shall leave you with that for now. No doubt they will make a reappearance on my blog again in the future. If you want to try making your own remedy, here's the link for a simple dandelion remedy recipe.

I was also interviewed by the lovely Natasha of Forage Botanicals on the medicinal uses of dandelion, check out her podcast to hear more about our sunny leonine friends:

I'd love to hear about your experiences and uses of dandelion, or reflections on what I've mentioned here in the blog. If you fancy it, I'd love to hear from you in the comments or on any of the social media links below.

Have a doodle dandy day!
Fiona Morris 
Herbalist & Holistic Therapist

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  1. Replies
    1. My pleasure lovely Sue. It's a privilege to work with you and very grateful for your support :)

  2. Lovely Fiona, thank you so much! I just LOVE your photos too...I want to be amongst those beautiful happy healing golden flower faces :) x

    1. You are very welcome Kali. Thanks for your kind words about my pictures. Sending you dandelion sunshine, could be a nice addition to one of your gorgeous face oils :) xo