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How do you get from this--
Well, there are numerous ways!
Let's take the case of dandelion in point. Dandelion is an easy herb to find things to do with, because it is so useful to us.
First thing when collecting herbs is to consider the location from which you are harvesting plants.
~Do you have permission to harvest? If it is your yard, that is one thing, but if it is from the State Park, or property which belongs to somebody else, they might care.
~Is the location far enough from the road that exhaust fumes haven't damaged the herbs? You shouldn't pick within 50 feet of the road if you're going to ingest these plants.
~Have herbicides been used in the area? If anything good survives this type of attack, it is surely unfit to eat.
~Are there factories or commercial farms located nearby that could be contributing to soil pollution? There are a number of ways chemicals can end up in the ground.
~Have animals been suing this area for a dumping spot? Harmful bacteria could be on the plant. Always be sure to wash your fresh herbs very well.
~Are you collecting from an area which is heavily populated with the herb that you want? Please only take what you will use, and never leave an area depleted. Leave plenty enough behind to repopulate the area well.
~Never harvest endangered species of plants. There is always an alternative. There is no plant so unique that another can't do just as well. For instance, for Golden Seal, you can use Oregon Grape instead. We need to preserve the future of these precious plants for our kids.
~Leave an area in better shape than you found it, if possible. Be courteous and respectful to Mother Nature's sweet house!
When harvesting any herb from the wild, it is important to make sure you have the right plant. There aren't many that will actually hurt you, and I'm sure we all know what dandelions look like, but it's best always to be totally sure. If in doubt, do not pick the plant. I would recommend you get a good book on how to identify herbs.
Okay, so back to the case of dandelion...
Always choose plants which look healthy. Take into consideration the best time to harvest each plant. In the case of dandelion, the leaves are best when they're young and fresh. The older they get, the more tough and bitter in taste.
Pick a few dandelion leaves. Wash them and eat them. Just to get used to the taste. Dandelions are extremely nutritious to eat, they're very good for digestion, and they are one of the very best herbs for supporting proper kidney and liver function.
Mix them in salads. My kids never knew for a very long time, now they know and understand what I do. If you start doing it when they're young enough, they won't question the practice at all. The flowers are good to eat, too!
Boiled Egg Salad with Dandelion -Insalata di uova sode e tarassaco (Taraxacum officinalis)
4 boiled eggs
14 oz of tender dandelion rosettes
1 onion, chopped into rings
1 handful of chopped wild mint
4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp of red wine vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
Cut the boiled eggs into coins, and place them in a salad bowl with the dandelion leaves, chopped onion rings. Add the mint and dress with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
Did you know that dandelion flowers have the highest lecithin content of anything in the whole entire plant world? Try tossing in some of these!
Dandelion Buds in Vinegar - Boccioli di tarassaco all'aceto (Taraxacum officinalis)
10 oz of small, closed dandelion flower buds
2 tbsp of salt
1 cup of vinegar
1 cup of dry white wine
2 garlic clobes
2 bay leaves
1/2 liter of olive oil
Cover the buds with salt and let them dehydrate for a couple of hours. Bring the vinegar, wine with the garlic cloves and bay leaves to a boil. Throw in the buds for a minute, then drain them and allow them to dry on a dish towel. Then put them in a jar and cover them with olive oil. Wait about a month before eating.
~ You can find more recipes like this at
Do you drink wine? I don't, but if I did, I would make some from dandelions! Here's a good recipe for that. (Hey, might as well drink a wine that will actualy be GOOD for the liver!)
I give credit for this recipe to one of my very favorite instructors in herbology, Dr. Philip Fritchey, ND, MH, CNHP.
2 Quarts fresh Dadelion flowers
2 Quarts spring water
1 Lemon (Wash fruit thoroughly to remove any chemical resides)
3 Cups turbinado sugar
1/2 pack of yeast
Carefully remove any trace of stems from flowers. Place in some sort of large crock or non-metallic container. Thinkly slice the orange and lemon, and add to the flowers, along with the sugar. Bring water to boil and pour over the flowers, fruit, and sugar. Cover loosely and let set 2 days, stirring occasionally. Strain liquid into another large crock and add yest. Cover loosely again and allow to ferment in a warm place for two weeks. Skim off any foam, and carefully pour off wine, trying not to disturb and sediment. Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator in tightly sealed bottles. Once cup of crushed fresh Red Raspberries may be used in place of the citrus.
*Please do not drink and drive, and please do not drink if you have a genetic history of alcoholism or any reason to suspect that you may have problems with alcohol.
Here's another drink you can make with dandelions, but this one is alcohol free! It's caffeine free, as well, and can be used as a healthy substitute for coffee:
Ground Roasted Dandelion Roots
Simply dig the roots out of the earth, wash them real good, brown them in the oven, and then chop them up and grind them and put them in your Mr. Dandelion machine!
You can put dandelion flowers, roots, and leaves into a tea. Be sure to use pure water. I like distilled for tea making purposes best, because it extracts the most nutrients from the herb. Place the herb in the water and heat just until you almost can't put your finger into the water anymore (so as not to destroy the active enzymes and vitamins of the plant), and then I like to spin it around in a blender before I strain it out to drink. You can add some type of natural sweetener to it if you like. Raw honey, stevia, or evaporated cane juice would be good sweeteners to use.
You can also make an extract quite simply from herbs. Tinctures are easy to make. Gather and wash the herbs, place them in a jar and cover with what is known as a "menstruum." The rule of thumb is 1 part dry herb or 2 parts fresh herb to 4 parts menstrum.
A menstruum is a solution used to extract the medicinal compounds from plants. There are several that you can use, but the one I use most often is made up of 1 part vegetable glycerin and 2 parts distilled water. YOu can also use 100 proof vodka, or raw apple cider vinegar (5% acidic).
Finely chop or crush the herbs to reduce the size as much as possible. A food processor, blender, or coffee grinder may be used, or just an old fashioned knife. Put the herbs into the jar and cover with menstruum, then set the jar in a suny window and leave it there for two weeks. Shake the jar at least two times a day.
After two weeks, blend the mixture up in your blender and then strain the contents though a strainer or muslin, squeezing as much of the menstruum out of the herb pulp as you possibly can. Pour into dark amber glass bottles and cap tightly. Label and store in a cool, dark place until needed. A glycerin based tincture has a shelf life of 3-5 years!
The resultant product is what is known as a whole-herb extract, and it is as safe as the original herb was itself. All the constituents are still in proper balance, preserved exactly the way nature intended for them to be, not like with drugs where certain parts of the plant are extracted, leaving the others behind.
*If using vodka as an extractant, the tincture may be heated to cook off the alochol.
You can also dry and powder your herbs, to put them into capsules. This is a very convenient way to take herbs, and it is the one with which most people are the most familiar. It is, however, the least effective way, particularly in the case of dandelion and other herbs with which part of their benefit is due to taste. Bitter herbs such as dandelion stimulate the digestion through taste buds. This benefit is lost when encapsulating herbs.
Still, though, you may choose this method. It is very convenient, and there are many other benefits to be had from dandelion, besides help with the digestive process. For instance, in addition to being extremely nutritious, dandelions also stimulate the production of both red and white blood cells. They are a wonderful antioxidant, too.
Herbs properly dried and stored can retain intact indefinately. Herbs in their original form have been discovered in tombs over 6,000 years old!
Herbs may be tied in loose bundles and hung from the ceiling, or they may be arranged in thin layers on screen and pleced in a sheltered location until they are brittle when touched. They may be placed in a dehyudrator, or heated in an oven at very low temperatures for a short time. They should be stored in air tight containers and placed in the dark. Putting each jar into a brown paper lunch bag works fine!
Just about anything that can be done with fresh herbs can be done with dry herbs, so this is a good process to use to save herbs for future used. The key is to make sure they are thoroughly dry, so as to eliminate the risk of mold. Roots and barks almost always require low heat...Air drying might not be enough.
Be sure when drying herbs that you keep the herbs separate according to type. They all look pretty much the same once they're dry!
Keep them as intact as possible, to reduce the amount of potency lost, and then powder when ready to use.
There are more ways in which herbs can be processed, but I'll save those for another day. You can make hot or cold infused oils, for instance, or you can make ointments or creams. You can also use herbs in poultices, compresses, lotions, mouthwashes, baths, or steam inhalations. There are all sorts of ways to use herbs!
Oh! And the dandelion? You can use every part of the plant! We discussed the leaves, roots, and flowers, but what about the stems?
The milky latex in the stem of the dandelion can be used to help eliminate warts and m oles! Apply several times a day and in 7-10 days the wart or mole should fall off! It is also good to help fade "age spots."
And the puff? We called them Fairies when we were kids! What do you think they are?
May All Your Wishes for Good Health Always Come True!
Mary Jo Eshelman, ND, CTN, CNHP
The information presented is the author's personal and professional opinion, and is intended for educational purposes only. Nothing printed here is designed to take the place of a physician's advice. If you are experiencing problems with your health, it is recommended that you consult with a licensed health care professional. All Natural HealthWorks! is not responsible for any damages or ill-effects resulting from the information presented herein, nor do we make any recommendations regarding your health. We are simply here as a resource for you in making your own choices for your health yourself.