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Herb of the Month


Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelions have a lot to offer us medicinally, nutritionally and culinarily. Growing up I was taught that they were weeds and even eye-sores on a garden lawn which needed

to be removed. I was never told that they were revered through the ages by our

ancestors as a ‘cure-all’, treating everything from liver ailments to urinary disorders -- on

top of being full of vitamins and minerals.

And they’re not just beneficial for us; dandelions are also important for bees. They flower early on when bees come out of hibernation needing the nectar and pollen, using dandelions to fill the gap when other sources are scarce.


Benefits:

Medicinally, dandelions are a diuretic, meaning they increase the amount of urine

produced (hence the nickname wet-the-beds) whilst removing excess water, salts,

poison and metabolic products from the body. Diuretics usually leach potassium from the body, but dandelions have a benefit of being very high in potassium. They can be

used in a variety of plant remedies such as soothing oils, infusions, decoctions and

tinctures.

Nutritionally, dandelions are packed full of vitamins A, C, K and E, and are also a good

source of potassium, calcium, iron, folate and magnesium.

In terms of their culinary uses, young dandelion leaves can be used raw in salads; their older leaves are best blanched or cooked to remove their bitterness. Their petals can be

made into jellies, honeys and wine. The leaves and roots are used to flavour drinks

(think dandelion & burdock), and their roots can be dried and ground to make a coffee

substitute.


How to identify them:

Dandelions are a perennial plant (living for several years) and are found in abundance

in the wild or even in your own back garden. You can identify dandelions by their single,

hollow and smooth stem, ending in a circular flower with golden yellow petals, which turn into a white, downy ‘puffball’ head of seeds. They have notched arrow-like leaves, and thick roots with a taproot (large, central, dominant root) which pulls up nutrients from deep in the ground. The stem exudes a white milk when snapped.


How to grow them:

Dandelions can easily become part of an established herb garden, providing that they are deadheaded before setting-seed. They grow well in most soils but should be

allowed plenty of depth if the roots are to be dug up for use. Full sun is required for the best leaf and flower growth.


How to harvest them:

You harvest dandelions by picking the flowers and leaves as required, but it's best to harvest the roots when the plants are dormant (around autumn through to early spring) as that is when all the energy is stored in them.


Featured recipe:

Dandelion flower bath oil – used to soothe muscles and joints.

1. Fill a jar with fresh flower heads and pour olive oil over to cover them.

2. Push a sterilised knife around inside of the jar to get rid of any air bubbles.

3. Cover and leave on a sunny windowsill for 2 weeks, or until the flowers have

lost their colour.

4. Strain, then pour into a sterilised bottle to use when needed.


! Be mindful of any allergies or allergic reactions when making anything with plants. Test sparingly before use !


Disclaimer

Please note that while these herbs have potential health benefits, they should not replace professional medical advice or treatment. Always consult with a healthcare provider before adding new herbs to your routine, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking other medications. The recipes provided are for informational purposes only, and individuals should use them at their own risk.



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