Those pesky dandelions on your front lawn may cause hours of work when you have to dig them out of your grass; however, you may be surprised to find out that those bright yellow weeds are highly respected as medicinal herbs, with a wide range of uses. If you have liver or gallbladder problems, then you may want to learn to prepare dandelion roots as a liver tonic. Before using any unfamiliar herb, consult your health practitioner.
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Dandelion is one of the bitter herbs whose healing properties cover a variety of health issues. They are rich in vitamins and minerals. All parts of the plant are used medically by herbalists around the world. The leaves are edible and can be added to salads, cooked as any other leafy-green vegetable and are used in some coffee substitutes. The flowers are used to add a special flavor to some wines. Both Native Americans and the Chinese have used dandelion for centuries for culinary and medicinal treatments.
Various parts of the dandelion were used traditionally by Native Americans to treat kidney disease, heartburn, stomach problems, swelling, liver disorders and certain skin ailments. The Chinese used this versatile plant for appendicitis, breast inflammation, digestive upsets and to encourage milk flow in nursing mothers.
The roots of the dandelion are often brewed into a medicinal herb tea to stimulate the appetite, as a digestive aid and to improve the function of the liver and gallbladder. Leaves are brewed into an herbal tea as well, and are commonly used as a diuretic to increase the amount of urine, stimulate excretion and pull excess fluids out of edematous tissues. It is believed to be particularly helpful in reducing swelling around the joints due to gout and arthritis.
Dandelion helps to detoxify the liver and promote increased bile production, says Andrew Chevallier in his book, "Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine." In the folk medicine of many countries, dandelion is used as a liver tonic to stimulate a sluggish or congested liver. The roots provide a mild laxative effect and are used to improve digestion and relieve stomach upsets like flatulence, constipation and fullness. Additionally, dandelion root may relieve headaches and treat skin disorders, boils and other ailments related to liver dysfunction. Because dandelion helps to clean the liver and gallbladder, it is believed to be important for the removal of toxins deposited in the liver from pharmaceutical drugs. There is some indication that the root of the plant may boost the production of natural, healthy bacteria of the gastrointestinal tract, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Dose and Safety
The recommended dose for dried root is 2 grams to 8 grams three times daily, according to the NYU Langone Medical Center. Add 1/2 cup fresh leaves to salads, or eat dandelion leaves cooked as vegetables. Dandelion is considered to be safe when used according to directions. Consult your health practitioner before starting treatment with dandelion to ensure it is the right herb for your condition.