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Dandelion: ancient remedy

is growing popular again.

By Yogi Baba Prem, Yogacharya, Veda Visharada

Note: This article is not intended to diagnose or prescribe treatment.  It is for educational purposes only as to the traditional uses of Dandelion.  Consult with your doctor first. 

Interestingly, my relationship with dandelion spans decades.  While this relationship has waxed and waned over the decades, it seems that dandelion has been forever entrenched within the recesses of my mind, as I have always returned to it as an important herb and food within my life. As a small child, I recall my grandmother picking dandelion from fields that surrounded her home.  She would cook the greens and serve them to us as part of our family dinner during summer. 

The dandelion is most interesting as it appears to be a plant in which just about every part can be consumed, as the root and leaves are commonly consumed.  Dandelion is known to have been used by Native Americans and it appears in Chinese medicine as well, indicating its usage is quite old.  While dandelion is no longer as popular in one's diet as it was at one time, dandelion remains popular in the UK and several European nations.  The French have a soup of dandelion called creme de pissenlits.  But as all things cycle up and down in popularity, the dandelion is once again gaining popularity in the western world, reappearing in upper end restaurants and is commonly available in a variety of ‘spring mix’ salads. 

From an Ayurvedic view, dandelion is traditionally viewed as beneficial for cleansing the blood and liver.  Personally, I find it to be a more gentle cleanser then herbs such as milk thistle.   It does have a slightly bitter taste indicating it can be reducing to the body, and could be part of a healthy weight loss program.  Likewise, it is reducing to Kapha and Pitta, but can be increasing to Vata; therefore, it is contraindicated for high vata.  I would urge caution with liver diseases as well.  According to Ayurveda, it is believed to reduce cysts and tumors.  Canada is studying dandelion to see if there are cancer fighting properties.[i]  It is believed to be beneficial for the breast as well, according to Ayurveda. 

 

While the focus is commonly on dandelion greens, many potential health benefits are found in the root.  It is common to find dandelion root tea at the health food store, but my favorite is dandelion coffee.  I personally drink and enjoy this as a substitute for coffee.  The earliest written references to Dandelion Coffee are dated to circa 1830.  It does have an energizing effect and some Native American’s used it to boost energy.  It is believe that the energizing effect does not come from caffeine.  Personally, I find it quite energizing but not in a caffeine way.  The key to making dandelion coffee is in roasting the dandelion root.  Here is my personal formula:

 

·         Take 2.5 ounces of dried dandelion root and place on an oven tray.

·         Heat oven to 390° F or 199° C.

·         Make sure to spread out the dandelion root on tray.

·         Place tray on rack in oven for 10-12 minutes.  (Times may vary depending on dryness of root).  If very dry, I find this gives a medium to dark roast.  One may notice a deep rich roasted aroma indicating the roasting is complete.   

·         Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.

·         Place roasted dandelion in grinder and grind to a powder, similar to coffee.  Store in an airtight container, or store in airtight container and grind a small portion as needed. 

 

1.       To make the coffee, we use a coffee press. 

2.       Heat one cup of water. 

3.       Add one teaspoon of ground dandelion.  (More or less can be added to achieve preferred taste).

4.       Steep for 2-3 minutes, steep longer if you prefer a stronger coffee. 

5.       Add creamer that you prefer.

6.       Sweeten with favorite sweetener to taste. 

 

As it is a cleanser, and people have different degrees of toxicity within their body, I would suggest starting with small amounts of the coffee and very slowly increase over time.  I also urge caution if one is pregnant due to the vata increasing qualities as well.  Detoxification is generally not recommended during pregnancy. 

Dandelion is somewhat nutritious and contains minerals, antioxidants and vitamins.  A sampling of nutrition, based on 1 cup of dandelion greens, it is rich in vitam A, Retinol Activity Equivalent. Alpha and Beta Carotene, Vitamin C, E and K.  It also contains minerals such as Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Copper and Potassium.  [ii]


[i] http://blogs.windsorstar.com/2012/11/04/first-cancer-clinical-trial-approved-for-windsor/

[ii] Source: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2441/2

 Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

Yogi Baba Prem

  • Yogi Baba Prem has two books published in India, and has written numerous other books published by Universal Yoga. 

 

  • His articles have appeared in several traditional magazines and a variety of e-magazines.