Dandelion: properties, benefits and uses
Dandelion is a perennial herbaceous plant belonging to the Asteraceae family whose scientific name is Taraxacum Officinale . The plant is also known as the “yellow star”, due to its deep yellow flowers; or even “dandelion” probably due to the serrated edge that has its leaves. Its purifying and detoxifying properties of the dandelion have been known since the Middle Ages, so much so that in the twentieth century the term dandelion-therapy was coined to indicate taking dandelion-based herbal therapy. The origin of the name probably derives from the Greek term ????? or meaning agitation.
The dandelion plant is a very resistant spontaneous herb that grows in meadows, fields, from the flatter areas to the alpine ones (in the high mountains up to 190 meters high); it is possible to find it even on the side of the roads due to its characteristic pest in all temperate climate zones. The plant reaches a maximum height of 40 cm; it has a large root and lance-shaped and toothed leaves, with intense yellow flowers that close at sunset and open at dawn. After the inflorescence, instead of flowers, fruits are born, called achenes, structures similar to tufts of white hair with a round conformation, which in turn is called a showerhead, for the habit of blowing on it by children and adults, for see the achenes flutter in the air.
The active principles of the dandelion
The Dandelion plant has many beneficial properties thanks to the elements it contains, including water , which makes up 90% of substances contained in the plant and antioxidants, proteins, fibers, vaso-protective substances, digestive and purifying substances. Let’s see in detail:
- vitamins: B vitamins, vitamin C, A, E, K;
- antioxidants such as tannins, flavonoids, beta-carotene and cryptoxanthin: yellow / red antioxidants belonging to the Xantille family. They are found in high percentage in corn and orange peel. Their beneficial action is expressed at the level of the skin, mucous membranes and tissues, with an anti-radical action, that is to say preventing aging.
- lutein and zeaxanthin : micronutrients belonging to xanthophylls; antioxidant activity, protective action on the structures of the retina and have a preventive action on the cataract. These molecules are also found in spinach, pumpkin, peas, chicory and radicchio;
- arginine: an essential amino acid that must be taken with food because the body does not synthesize it sufficiently; its action is vasodilatory on the blood vessels, and therefore stimulates the circulation and therefore the passage of nutrients and oxygen from the blood to the tissues;
- phenolic acids: such as caffeic acid with anti-inflammatory action;
- tarassicina and inulin: bitter, digestive and diuretic substances, which stimulate the production of gastric, pancreatic and intestinal juices, favoring diuresis and intestinal motility;
- phenolic acids: as the coumaric acid with a vasoprotective and anti-inflammatory action;
- hydrophilic mucilage: substance capable of guaranteeing normal intestinal resuscitation, combating problems of constipation, irritable colon and colitis;
- mineral salts : including iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, sodium and potassium.
The used parts of the plant
The parts used are the roots, leaves and flowers rich in bitter principles very useful to support the work of the liver and kidneys, favoring the elimination of toxins, or the catabolites of discarding of cellular functions. The flowers are harvested in February and September; it is advisable to carry out the collection only on lawns where there are no herbicides and on areas far from the roadside, where there is a high concentration of smog due to auto pollutants.
The flowers can be eaten both fresh and dried, stored in glass jars, used in herbal teas, decoctions or detoxifying liquid drinks. The old leaves, most exposed to the sun, are the most bitter.
The root, which is kept dried in cloth sacks, is used in galenic and phytotherapeutic preparations designed to restore regular intestinal transit.
The properties of the dandelion and its uses
The Dandelion can be taken in the form of salads, mother tinctures, capsules or detoxifying drinks in order to intervene on excess toxins, digestive problems, irritable bowel, constipation, food poisoning, obesity, edema, following pharmacological treatment or convalescence, training intensive, swelling.
- For a purifying, diureticand anti-cholesterol action: it is recommended to take the hydro-alcoholic extract or mother tincture. This is a preparation that is obtained by cold maceration in solvent of the fresh plant whose assumption is active on the excretory organs; the intake of 30-40 drops 2 times a day is able to stimulate the kidneys and the digestive system by exerting a powerful purifying and diuretic action, also useful to fight overweight. Having a purifying and detoxifying action it can also be useful in case of jaundice and problems related to the liver, since it favors the passage of bile from the liver to the intestine. To decrease cholesterol, drink three times a day a decoction of dandelion. To prepare the decoction: boil 90 g of roots in 1 liter of water for 15 minutes and leave to infuse for a few hours;
- For an action Il Tarassaco stimulates the production of gastric juices, intervening on constipation and irritable colon, and regulates the intestinal tract thanks to the presence of fibers; it is therefore recommended to take a decoction of Dandelion roots away from the meal or when there is abdominal swelling and to take it at least 2 times during the day. To prepare a decoction 15 gr of dried roots should be used, boiled for about 15 minutes in 200 ml of water, leave to rest for a few hours, filter and drink the drink obtained. If you want, you can add an orange peel and honey peel.
- To regulate blood pressure. Acting as a diuretic, it is useful in controlling blood pressure in those who have hypertension, thanks to the presence of potassium, an electrolyte that performs a vasodilatory action on the tissues and arteries and therefore produces an increase in blood flow inside the lumen .
- In case of diabetes and blood glucose control. Dandelion juice stimulates the elimination of sugars through the urine. In diabetic subjects it is advised not to take Tarassaco unless under strict supervision of the doctor to avoid a hypoglycemic crisis.
- Facial treatments in case of acne, bacterial dermatitis and fungi:the presence of antioxidant elements ensures an anti-aging action on the tissues; the presence of antibacterials helps fight skin infections in the case of acne; besides taking Tarassaco fights the production of free radicals through the antioxidants contained in it. It is advisable to drink an herbal tea every night for at least two months at cyclical intervals. To prepare a less bitter herbal tea, soak the leaves in a bowl of water for a few hours, taking care to change the water from time to time.
- Water retention and cellulite (pefs):we recommend taking capsules (1-2 per day) or drinking a purifying drink during the day to help drain the circulatory and lymphatic system, especially during the season changes. To prepare a draining drink: bring a glass of dandelion flowers to a boil in 5 cups of water and leave to simmer for about 3 hours; filter the liquid, add a teaspoon of honey and a few drops of lemon, pour everything into a bottle and add water to the rim; sip away from meals. It is also advisable to take the dandelion plant with a diet, inside salads or cooked as a chicory.
In America they used the boiled dandelion leaves to intervene on disorders such as kidney, gastrointestinal and skin diseases. In England flowers are used to make a good wine, called dandelion wine , while with toasted roots it makes an excellent coffee.
Associations with other plants
It can be taken with burdock , birch , pilosella ,
Contraindications and warnings
Dandelion has a high tolerability and safety. In any case, it is advisable to follow some warnings before using it. Pay attention to any allergies. Since it can increase gastric acidity, it is not recommended for use in people suffering from gastritis or gastroesophageal reflux: the bitter taste of the dandelion generally increases gastric juices with consequent worsening of gastritis or gastrointestinal ailments. Do not administer together with hypoglycemic agents and diuretics, nor with non-steroidal drugs such as aspirin and paracetamol as it may have adverse effects on the gastric mucosa.