Ahhh, t’is spring….. and as the tulips begin to bloom and the air feels warm and yummy and everything starts to look healthier and greener in the garden and then, darn! What’s that? Already? Yes, yes, along with spring comes those pesky weeds. But wait a minute. Not all weeds are created equal, some are great medicinals! I know that in most places dandelion is considered a nuisance but to the herbalist and the nutritionist, these wonderful ‘weeds’ are a nutritional delight and treat!
The common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc. Its leaves are often used to add flavor to salads, sandwiches, and teas. The roots can be found in some coffee substitutes, and the flowers are used to make certain wines.
Medicinally, dandelion roots are used as an appetite stimulant, digestive aid, and I like to recommend it to all of my clients interested in cleanses because it helps to support the optimal function of the liver, gallbladder and kidneys. Dandelion leaves are specifically used as well to stimulate the excretion of urine but because they contain potassium they are wonderful ‘balancing diuretic’, not one that typically depletes the body of minerals.
So the next time you pass this weed and think about removing its presence from your pristine green grass, maybe this year you can welcome it – and if you are adventurous enough, grab some early spring leaves and toss them into your soup or salad. Right now you can also find them at your local health food store, usually next to other green leafies.