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The Medicinal Properties of Dandelion, Taraxicum Officianalis

The Medicinal Properties of Dandelion, Taraxicum Officianalis

     Dandelion grows wild all over North America and is considered to be a weed. Its leaves are often picked before it blooms and made into salads, sautés and wine. One cup of dandelion greens is quite nutritious. It contains choline, lutein, 218 mgs of potassium, 535 percent of one’s daily recommended intake of vitamin K, 111 percent of vitamin A, 32 percent of vitamin C, 5 percent B6, 10 percent of calcium, 9 percent of iron and 5 percent of magnesium. The leaves and roots are used for medicinal use.

   Dandelion has a great beneficial activity on the kidneys and liver. The French name for dandelion is “pissenlit”, which translates to wetting the bed. This herb acts as a natural diuretic likely due to its high potassium content. It purifies the blood and helps the liver and kidneys remove toxins. It also helps to reduce uric acid levels, stimulates urination and can help with bladder infections. This weed-like superfood helps the kidneys clear out waste and salt making it helpful for edema (water retention) due to excess salt, medication use or PMS. Some use dandelion as a treatment for hypertension due to its diuretic properties.

     Due to its blood purifying effects and support of the liver and kidneys, it is often used for skin disorders like acne, boils, rosacea, psoriasis and eczema. Dandelion helps to remove toxins from the blood and in turn purifies the blood and improves breakouts. Herbal combinations that include dandelion and other herbs like berberis aquafolium, sarsaparilla and echinacea are very beneficial in helping with skin issues due to their cleansing effect.

     Some recent studies suggest that dandelion may help normalize blood sugar levels and lower total cholesterol and triglycerides while raising HDL (good) cholesterol in diabetic mice. Researchers need to do more research on whether dandelion will work this well in humans. A few animal studies also suggest that dandelion might help fight inflammation.

     Dandelion has bitter properties that helps to improve bile flow from the liver and gallbladder. This can improve fat digestion and aid in promotion smoother bowel movements for those with constipation. In irritable bowel syndrome dandelion has been found to improve elimination. One study found that 95% of sufferers reported they were pain free after two short weeks of use. Dandelion’s bitter properties activate a reflex that increases secretion of digestive juices by the lining of the stomach. This means it can help with digestion of foods starting in the stomach and fats due to its increase in bile flow from the liver and gallbladder. This herb can prevent gallstones but should be avoided in those who already have them. Improved bile flow acts like a natural lubricant for the intestinal tract with helps with harder constipated stools.

     Historically dandelion has been used to treat hemorrhaging from the liver. It also improves liver function, by removing toxins and reestablishing hydration and electrolyte balance. Some research has found that this mighty weed can be quite beneficial in cancer prevention. It is thought that because it is rich in antioxidants, supports toxin release and liver and kidney function which in turn may be why it would benefit those with cancer. One compound called luteolin actually harms cancer cells when it binds to them, making them unable to replicate. This may be most beneficial in prostate cancer. Many more studies are being conducted.

     Dandelion can be found in raw leaf form, tinctures, teas, pills and powders. Some even use dandelion coffee instead of regular coffee. Dosages vary according to its form. If you are allergic to dandelion, have gallstones or are taking antibiotics. Check with your pharmacist if this herb contradicts any medication you are taking. Side effects from dandelion may include increased urination, bowel movements and diarrhea.

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