Dandelion root is a free source of good medicine and can be found in most parts of the country.
Before you overlook this powerful, abundant medicine, consider the superpower of a weed. Weeds are hardy, difficult to eradicate and overall more willful than most gardners. When a weed has a healing capability, and most do, they tend to be more resilient than their foe. Please see my prior post regarding weed harvesting safety.
Almost everyone is familiar with dandelions and they are an easy and fun place to begin wild harvesting. Bear in mind that extremely toxic, cancer-causing chemical poisons are readily obtained from any home and yard store in this country, banned by many other countries, American policy hasn’t caught up with the science yet. Avoid any dandelions that have been growing in a place where herbicide or pesticides or even many commercial lawn fertilizers have been used. After that, go wild!
I learned about the uses of dandelion, (taraxacum) by the Chinese name: pu gong ying. This revered medicine was first written about hundreds of years ago in the Tang Materia Medica and is still used widely in the modern world.
The root of dandelion is bitter, slightly sweet and cold. Because of this it is often roasted and then brewed as a coffee substitute. In general, our American diet is very lacking in the bitter flavor which is one of the reasons I think we gravitate to coffee. Because coffee can be overstimulating to many, roasted dandelion root is a great non-stimulating alternative that still offers that robust flavor so many of us crave. The bitter flavor in Chinese food theory correlates to the heart. If you are a person who seeks out coffee when you are feeling anxious and then feel overly stimulated and often worse, it is worth considering you might need the bitter flavor to balance the energies of your heart. A wonderful Sufi poems tells us to match the rhythm of our heart with that of the beloved. This, it tells us, will yield peace.
When our heart organ needs balancing we will naturally crave the bitter flavor. Add overstimulation of a strong coffee and everything seems to get worse. Go out in the back field and dig up some dandelion roots to slow roast then grind and brew, and everything feels right as rain.
Dandelion comes to mind when I need to cool heat, resolve toxicity and facilitate urination (great also for treating painful dribbling issues). This herb has a downward directing energy.
It can eliminate hard abscesses or nodules that are internal (and/or the fresh greens externally).
This is also one of the first herbs I might try to brighten vision and reduce redness or swelling in the eyes caused by toxicity or upward rising liver heat. (In the Chinese system, dandelion enters the liver and the “liver opens on to the eyes.”)
Dandelion is a great herb to try if you are feeling slightly toxic digestively from too much food, drink or a wild, wild life. Also consider it for balancing hormonal patterns especially where lumps and swelling might be an issue.
I love dandelion. In this winter season when the life force of nature resides dominantly in the roots we can be comforted by a moderate intake of roasted dandelion root tea.