Disclaimer: This information is in no way intended to be a substitute for modern medical care. Do not self-treat any medical complaint without the guidance of a licensed health care provider.

     While we usually think of the dandelion we see growing freely in fields as a weed, especially when it pops up on our lawns, this ubiquitous plant not only provides a tasty sald green but has a strong diuretic effect, which can be beneficial to liver function.
     The word dandelion comes the French "dent de lion," meaning lion's tooth, which is an allusion to the plant's sharply pointed leaves. Despite its fearsome name, dandelion is actually a friend to the body and is used in many medicinal tea mixtures.

Plant Facts
     Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, is a member of the Composite family. The stems, which like the leaves, yeild a milky substance, can reach a length of 16 inches. The leaves taste bitter, while the roots are bittersweet. The whole plant exudes a faint buttery-sharp odor.
     Store dandelion root so that it is protected from light and moisture. It will keep for about 3 years in the whole, dried form only. If it is ground or powdered, its shelf life is reduced to 1 year.

     The dandelion is native to the entire Northern Hemisphere. The plant grows almost everywhere - in meadows, yards, gardens, between cobblestones and on old walls.

     The plant contains bitters that stimulate digestive secretions. Dandelion also contians triterpenes, sterols, phenolic acids, coumarins and, in the leaves and blossoms, flavonoids as well. Its remarkably high potassioum content - up to 4.5% - makes it an excellent diuretic, since it does not deplete the body of this essential mineral.

     Because of its well-balanced medicinal ingredients, the dandelion has played an important part as a healing supplement in traditional medicine. It is a mild stimulant for the gallbladder and liver, helping them get rid of waste products and increasing bile flow; its effect on the liver makes dandelion beneficial for treating gout, rheumatism and skin diseases. Dandelion is useful in treating acne, eczema and psoriasis, as it reduces the body's efforts to eliminate toxins through the skin. In addition, dandelion relieves digestive complaints, such as bloating and flatulence; as an aromatic bitter, it stimulates appetite and promotes digestion. As a diuretic, the dandelion leaf alleviates fluid retention.

Methods of Administration

     Prepare 1-2 tsp. of finely chopped or powdered root, with or without leaves, in 1 cup of cold water, and bring it to a boil. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes; strain. Drink 1 cup of this tea up to 3 times daily.

      Prepare ⅔ oz. of dandelion root with 3 oz. of alcohol (brandy or vodka). Let it stand for 4-6 weeks; filter. Take 30 drops with a little water 3 times a day.

Root juice
      Simmer 1/3 oz. of chopped roots with 1 cup of water for 15 minutes and then filter. Drink 2 cups of the juice daily between meals.

Spring tonic
     The root juice and the tea decoction are suitable for a spring or fall tonic, especially as a remedy for liver or gallbladder dysfunction. Drink 1 cup of tea or 1 tbsp. of juice twice a day for 4-6 weeks.

     Let 1½ oz. of dried root steep in white wine for about 10 days, then filter. Drink 4 oz. a day.

To stimulate children's appetites
     Dandelion tea can improve appetite in children. However, because children often dislike dandelion's bitter taste, you'll need to add dried apple pieces or orange slices to the tea. Honey, instead of sugar, can be added for additional sweetness. Have your children drink ½ cup of the tea 30 minutes before meals.

For kidney and bladder stones
     Eliminate small kidney and urethral stones with this folk remedy: Pour 1 pt. of water over 2 tbsp. of dandelion leaves and 1 tsp. of nettle leaves. Strain after 10 minutes, dilute with 1 qt. of hot water and drink within half an hour. Repeat daily until the stone has been passed. It is best to continue the treatment once a week to help prevent the formation of new kidney and bladder stones.

For a coffee substitute
     Clean dandelion roots and cut them into small pieces. Dry them in a warm oven, 150F, with the door open about 2 inches to allow the air to circulate. Then roast the roots in a pan at 325F until brown, turning frequently. Grind them immediately. Use 1 tsp. to brew 1 cup.

For a mild, bitter cordial
     Remove a handful of fresh flower buds from the leafy green plant and steep for 1 week in about 1 pt. clear grain alcohol; strain. Dilute 1 tsp. of the cordial in herbal tea and take after meals. This helps stimulate digestion.

Healing Tea Mixtures

For digestive problems

      Steep in 1 cup of water for about 10 minutes. Combined with other medicinal plants, dandelion helps stimulate bile production, promotes digestion and alleviates intestinal gas.

For skin cleansing

      Steep in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes. You will need to drink the tea daily for several weeks before the skin-clarifying effect will become evident.

For fluid retention

      Steep in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes. this tea promotes the metabolism and stimulates the activity of the kidneys, thereby reducing bloating and fluid retention.

Liver Tea

      Combine ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for a couple of minutes. Turn down heat and let steep for about 15 minutes. Strain and drink at least a cup a day.

Premenstrual Tea

      Combine herbs and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and steep for at least 20 minutes. Strain. Drink at least 2 cups daily, as needed. This formula can also be taken as a tincture; there are many commercial formulas available for menstrual pain. To make your own tincture, use the same proportion as for this tea.

Confidentiality Statement: (for anyone who does not respect copyright and/or is confused regarding this issue) The information, data and schematics embodied in the document are confidential and proprietary, being exclusively owned by Ellen J. Lord (aka Purpleflame or Firefly). This document is being supplied on understanding that it and its contents shall not be used, reproduced, or disclosed to others except as specifically permitted with the prior written consent of Ellen J. Lord. The recipient of this document, by its retention and use, agrees to protect the same from loss, theft, or unauthorized use.

      All information provided in this article is the result of research using (but not limited to) the following books and guides: Herbs for Health and Healing, Rodale; Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Scott Cunningham; Magical Herbalism, Scott Cunningham; The Complete Guide to Natural Healing, International Masters Publishers; Earthway, Mary Summer Rain; Teach Yourself Herbs, Susie White; Natural Beauty from the Garden, Janice Cox; Nature's Prescriptions, Editors of FC&A Medical Publishing, and The People's Pharmacy Guide to Home and Herbal Remedies, Joe Graedon and Theresa Graedon, Ph.D