Dandelion: A Backyard Weed with Health Benefits

What’s better than a plant that gives wishes when you puff its fluff? A plant that is both a natural medicine and superfood that grows right in your backyard!

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April, 5th is a National Dandelion day. And it means we have the perfect excuse to talk about dandelions, a natural medicine and superfood that can be found right in your backyard. Constantly being pulled or sprayed, this resistant weed likes to take over our lawns and gardens. Dandelions are possibly the most successful plant that exist, a master of survival that can be found pretty much anywhere around the world. There are about 100 species of dandelion and all of them are known to have amazing nutrient qualities and health promoting properties. Who knew that this plant with puffy flowers that grant childhood wishes could also offer us so many health benefits!

So, when you grandmother told you dandelion greens were good for you, she wasn’t kidding.

5 Benefits of Dandelion:

  1. The Dandelion is a great source of many important vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants that support blood health and increase iron absorption. For example, the greens of dandelion provide 535% of the recommended daily dose of vitamin K, which plays a critical role in protecting your heart and brain, and strengthening bones. Dandelion greens also give the body 112% of the daily minimum requirement of vitamin A, which is particularly good for the skin, mucus membranes and vision. Besides, these greens also contain high doses of vitamins C and B6, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, iron, and potassium, among other minerals.dandelion-1407342-640x480
  2. It acts as a laxative promoting digestion and stimulating appetite. And as a diuretic, helping cleaning kidneys and lowering blood pressure along with the fiber and potassium found in dandelions (which also helps to regulate blood pressure).
  3. Dandelions improve liver function by removing toxins and reestablishing hydration and electrolyte balance.
  4. While a lot of natural remedies for cancer go unproven, studies have shown that extracts from dandelions do have the ability to slow down the growth of cancer and prevent it from spreading.
  5. Dandelion boosts immune system and fights microbes. It also contains essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that reduce inflammation in the body, relieving pain and swelling.

All the parts of Dandelion can be used in various ways though the roots and flowers are the most commonly used to make herbal tea, coffee substitute, beer, and some types of wine. The leaves are usually consumed fresh on a salad or in recipes as a  substitute for greens like kale and collards. If you gather dandelion from the wild (e.g. your backyard) it’s important to make sure it has not been sprayed with pesticides and that it does not come from an area where pets may have eliminated.

Dandelion FUN FACTS:

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  • The name “dandelion” comes from French “dent de lion” which means lion’s tooth (referring to the sharply indented shape of the leaves).
  • Have you ever realized that the life cycle of a dandelion is like a solar system in miniature? The dandelion is the only flower that represents the 3 celestial bodies of the sun (yellow flower), moon (puff ball), and stars (dispersing seeds). Pretty cool, right?
  • Dandelion seeds are often transported away by a gust of wind. These tiny parachutes can travel up to 5 miles (8 kilometers) before they finally reach the ground.

Perhaps the next time you go to spay or pull away a beautiful patch of dandelions you’ll be able to find another more productive use for them!

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