Dandelions in Question
Dandelions are the bane of many Americans. But for others, not so. Those who wish to have perfectly manicured lawns with no weeds may attack dandelions with focused severity and deadly chemicals. However, there is a segment of the population who actually welcome the invasive species.
One year in the early spring, a friend pulled those “weeds” from his yard and included the steamed young dandelion leaves as a part of the delicious meal he served. The thought ran through my head, “I wonder if there have been chemicals sprayed on his lawn?” He assured me that these were organic dandelion greens. They were tasty.
My curiosity was piqued. I had heard “old timers” say that eating a mess of dandelion greens in the spring purifies the blood. The winter diet of our ancestors was much different than what we eat today. And apparently, there is some truth that dandelion greens have detoxification properties. Which, if you think about it, is another reason to be careful where you harvest dandelions. They absorb pesticides and herbicides readily into their structure. Roadside harvesting or certain lawns should be avoided.
A number of studies have been done on the effects of dandelion leaves, roots and flowers on animals, but none on humans. It has been found that dandelions affect the liver along with other organs, helping to stabilize blood sugar, blood pressure and the digestion of fat.
They are chock full of vitamins and minerals: vitamins A, B, C, and D, potassium, iron and zinc. Studies do show that the leaves are a diuretic. Other animal studies point to the dandelion helping to fight inflammation.
The Chinese and Europeans have traditionally used the dandelion plant as a healing herb for centuries. Even Native Americans used the plant to treat “kidney problems, swelling, heartburn and upset stomach.”
The root may be dried and used to make a coffee substitute. Even the blossoms of this lowly plant can be battered and fried. Plus, there is a rumor that dandelion wine is tasty.
Harvesting dandelion greens in late summer may not be a good idea. The greens become bitter as the weather warms. However, the roots are better harvested in the fall because they will have a higher amount of inulin. “Inulin is a white, mildly sweet, indigestible polysaccharide that occurs chiefly in roots or tubers of various plants.” (Wikipedia) Since inulin is indigestible, it travels to your lower gut. There it is consumed by friendly gut bacteria. We call inulin a prebiotic. The good bacteria doing all that work converts it into the healthy benefits of chain fatty acids.
A word of caution before you consume large quantities of dandelion greens in the spring as a method to clear the yard. lf you are taking medications for blood thinning, water pills, or medications for diabetes, eat dandelions lightly. Not proven, but it is theorized lower blood sugar levels may result from the ingestion of dandelion. (And to think there might be a natural way to treat diabetes!)
Before you whip out your spray gun this spring to eradicate dandelions, think about it. Dandelions may have been here longer than humans. Do you really think you will win?
Psalm 85:12 “Yes the Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.”
©Ann Rains--May 2015
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