Right outside your window there are plants growing that are filled with nutrition. The dandelion is the ultimate survivor food.
They are used to cure illness, disease, and cancer. They are some of the most powerful liver cleansers known. They have lots of protein, antioxidants, and powerful healing compounds. And they’re free. You know of them as weeds; however, they are Mama Earth’s gift to you. They are the most magical plant medicine we have. While they are starting to be sold in high-end health food stores, they are absolutely available in the wild.
While there are thousands of these medicinal plants, there is one that has always stood out to me, not just for its popularity but also for its power. The particular weed I speak of is the dandelion.
Just about every area of the world, no matter where you live, has some sort of weed that can help you. While dandelions are native to Eurasia, they have been introduced to North America, South America, India, Australia, New Zealand, and probably anywhere else where Europeans have migrated.
The dandelion can thrive in almost any area. The plant can grow taproots up to 100 feet deep, which makes it a strong survivor. This taproot allows it to soak up water and nourishment from deep within the earth where it has been untouched by man.
Edible Wild: Dandelion as Food and Drink
Every part of the dandelion plant is useful and edible: the roots, leaves, stem, and flower. The only part that isn’t edible is the fluffy part–that’s for making wishes.
The flowers are perhaps the most delicious part of the plant with a slightly sweet taste. They are one of the highest sources on the planet of lecithin, which emulsifies fats in the liver, making dandelion blossoms great for many things, such as weight loss and detoxification. These bright, yellow flowers have many uses but are most popularly used to make wine. You can also eat them raw. They’re actually really good! If eating a raw, ungarnished dandelion blossom sounds too weird, then you can incorporate them into your diet slowly. Start off by chopping them up into salads or adding them to a smoothie.
The young leaves are powerful detoxifiers and are best consumed at their youngest stage in the beginning of spring. Toss them into a salad or your favorite green smoothie. If you have larger leaves that were harvested in late spring or early summer, you can use them in green juices for a powerful cleansing drink.
My personal favorite part of the dandelion is the roots, which can serve as a coffee substitute when roasted and ground. Dandelion root is also often used as a diuretic.
Medicinal Uses and Benefits
It's said that the introduction of dandelion to North America was intentional. The flower reminded people of their homes back in Europe and was also used medicinally.
As always, use caution when using any plant for medicinal purposes. I would read up on further properties and possible interactions with drugs or other medications that aren’t discussed here. For the most part, if you are consuming dandelion as a whole food, it is very safe.
As a food, dandelion is a great source of the antioxidants vitamin A and E, which prevent free radical damage. It is also contains B vitamins, C, D, calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, silicon, sodium, saponins, and phytoestrogens.
Other Medicinal Benefits:
- Liver tonic
- Alkalinizing for the blood
- Increases digestive acid levels
- Lowers cholesterol
- A diuretic
- Blood cleanser
- Lymphatic tonic
- Improves circulation
- Rich in minerals and trace minerals for bone, cartilage, tendon and ligament formation.
- Mosquito repellant: the milky stuff in the flower stem has been used to expel insects, particularly mosquitos.
Foraging Your Own
As long as you haven’t sprayed any chemicals or herbicides on your yard then you likely have a treasure trove of this magic herb growing wild and free around you. While stores do sell dandelion greens, they can cost up to 4 dollars a pound! I’d personally rather get mine for free. It’s also better for the ecosystem to forage your own.
I know the thought of eating weeds might seem strange, but it shouldn't. It only seems strange because our modern society has labeled them weird. Purslane is considered a weed in America, but in the rest of the world, it’s a vegetable. It’s really good for you, rich in vitamin K, and one of the only plants rich in omega 3. It’s no different for dandelion in many other countries.
In conclusion, wild plants and herbs such as dandelion have tenfold the nutritional and healing power of any plant grown and harvested by man. This has much to do with the soil’s they grow in and lack of diversity in the ground. Vegetables grown on a farm are raised in soil that's been used so much year after year, probably for generations, that there is very little mineral content left.
Also, farmed plants get watered every day, so their root systems are shallow and weak, maybe a few feet at best. Wild plants might not get rain or water for months, sometimes even longer, so they grow deep roots.
They go through layers and layers of mineral-rich earth and become super-rich with all the goodness available to a plant. Wild plants are survivors. They have a fighting spirit. They are not pampered, soft, wimpy, and nutritionally weak like most of the grocery store stuff. If you want to be strong, eat strong foods.