Dandelion is a robust and joyful being, bringing big energy and a buoyant spirit to those who turn to it for medicine. I mean, just look at those flowers!
Dandelion holds a unique place in herbal medicine and, based on the number of small herbal companies and organizations that have dandelion in their name or use its image in their logo, I think it's safe to say that it is the unofficial emblem of the herbal resurgence.
Herbalist Judith Berger calls dandelion:
"A supportive plant in the deepest sense"
And goes on to say that:
"It is no accident that dandelion grows so abundantly in places which are heavily populated. Though we imagine that the cure for our ills are complicated, exotic, and expensive, often the plants which are meant to be our constant companions love to settle at our feet."
The tendency of this plant to grow absolutely everywhere & anywhere speaks volumes about its tenacity, exuberance, and persistence. This is a plant that will not give up on you. This is a plant that will stick it out with you, healing and nourishing deeply on multiple levels and across many organ systems to bring your vital life force bubbling to the surface.
All parts of the plant are medicinal: root, stem, leaves, and flowers!
The root is best known as a liver ally. The liver performs over 500 functions in the body. It's not called the LIVER for nothing- it is absolutely essential for life. Many people associate liver problems with the overconsumption of alcohol or other drugs, but in today's toxic world most everyone's livers are burdened and needing support.
Hormonal and skin issues are benefitted from taking liver-supporting herbs, and the nutritive minerals dandelion root provides also benefit multiple body systems.
In fact, the list of ailments dandelion root addresses is so long that it's easiest to break its benefits down into an easy-to-read list. Dandelion excels at:
- Detoxification (after rich foods, drug or alcohol abuse, chemotherapy, chemical exposure, breathing smoggy air, pregnancy- basically nine months of being in a highly inflammatory state- etc.)
- Dissolving kidney and gall stones
- Preventing cancer
- Increasing the efficacy of the body's elimination channels (it has gentle diuretic- increasing urination- and laxative effects)
- Clearing up acne, rashes, redness, eczema
- Balancing blood sugar (and the accompanying mood swings) and helping to prevent Type II Diabetes
- Helping PMS symptoms
- Easing a young woman's transition into her bleeding time
- Addressing gout, edema, and ulcers
- Moving the lymph
- Promoting bile production
- Increasing appetite when that is what the person's body needs
- Decreasing joint pain
- Helping to move viral infections out of the body
- Addressing lung issues such as bronchitis, pneumonia, and tuberculosis
- Stabilizing high blood pressure
- Bringing down cholesterol levels
Sound like a miracle plant? Well, anything that works so strongly to heal the liver IS a miracle plant, and the health benefits of consistent use of dandelion root (usually in tincture form) are many.
But let's not forget about the other parts of the plant!
The leaves are highly nutritive, containing many essential minerals such as calcium and iron. They are also bitter, a taste frowned upon by those of us raised to value hyper-sweet (read: fake, de-natured, and health destroying) foods, but highly valued by herbalists and traditional peoples everywhere.
Bitter foods are fantastic for stimulating the body's digestive system to work at its optimal level. Bitters formulas are sold as tinctures and ingredients in cocktail mixtures, but it works just as well to walk outside and munch a few dandelion leaves from your front lawn. Try it! It may seem strange at first, but with time the body comes to crave the bitter taste, as it begins to associate it, on a cellular level, with the incredible healing and renewed vitality it is experiencing. Bitters are your friends.
Dandelion leaves, eaten fresh or taken as a vinegar, can help prevent osteoporosis, bring calm relaxation to the nervous system, revitalize the digestive tract, reduce sugar cravings, help clear the skin, and so much more.
Gotta love a plant whose stem is medicinal!
In my favorite herb book, Herbal Rituals, Judith Berger writes that, "Swiss herbalist Maria Treben recommends fresh stems of dandelion for almost miraculous relief of chronic liver inflammation, glandular swelling, gout, and rheumatism. A two-week, daily course of ten fresh stems allays fatigue, removes gallstones, and increases one's energy levels. I have experienced renewed digestion as well as restored visual acuity through a month-long course of the stems."
Now let's talk about those flowers! First of all, and I speak from experience, it's impossible not to feel joy when interacting deeply with dandelion flowers. Touching them, smelling them, making medicine from them- there's nothing like it! And I am someone who has worked with A LOT of plants. Dandelions are as special as it gets, which is extra awesome because they're also as common as it gets.
When used as a body oil dandelion flowers provide pain relief, break through tension in the body, help to release locked emotions that are causing physical blockages, and bring deep relaxation to the nervous system.
They are often used in breast oil formulas. Traditional Chinese Medicine uses dandelion flower poultices applied to the breasts when cancerous cells are present. Herbalist Susan Weed writes that:
"Applied regularly to the entire breast area, glowing golden dandelion flower oil can strengthen your sense of self worth as well as your immune system."
The breasts are intimately connected with the lymphatic system, which is a key component of the immune system. The lymph fluid needs to circulate through the body but, unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system does not flow on its own.
It needs your help. Exercise and self-massage are the best ways to move your lymph. Breast self-massage moves the lymph, helps keep your immunity strong, AND has the added super bonus of getting you intimately familiar with the terrain of this very important part of your body, so that you will know immediately if a suspicious growth appears.
LOVE YOUR BREASTS! Oil them at least a few times a week. In or right after the shower is a great time. A little goes a long way. You can get my Herbal Body Oiling eBook for free here to learn to make your own and more about the benefits of oiling for lymphatic and nervous system health, and I may have some herbal breast oils available in the Mythic Medicinals shop (depending of what time of year you are reading this).
Judith Berger shares that dandelion flower, used on the breasts, softens fibroids and cysts and increases breast milk.
I'd like to close by touching on this generous plant's effect on vitality, mood, and depression.
Times is tough. It is a heavy, heavy thing to be embodied on this planet right now. I don't know anyone who isn't struggling. If the photo at the beginning of this post lifted your heart in any way, or if you know your spirits need a boost, please consider bringing dandelion medicine into your life.
Once again, Judith Berger:
"All parts of dandelion lift the veil of depression... sluggishness slowly gives way to motivation, bitterness dissolves, and joy once again becomes possible."
And here's herbalist Kiva Rose:
"Dandelion is persistence, joy in the face of adversity, and bliss even while broken hearted."
If you'd like to purchase a dandelion tincture, vinegar, oil, flower essence, or other medicine, I suggest searching on Etsy or the vibrant herbal community on Instagram. If you'd like to learn to make your own herbal medicines you can certainly find many resources online, but my favorite online course is the Chestnut School Herbal Immersion Program.