Next time you are in a wide open field, pasture or meadow dotted with beautiful yellow dandelions, know that these prolific little delights are not only beautiful, but packed with nutrition and offer a host of healthy benefits. Let’s explore this amazing flower.
Dandelions are known as Pu Gong Ying in pinyin and are used frequently in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The name comes from the French “dent-de-lioun,” which translates into “tooth of the lion” due to its sharp leaves. Dandelions are known to aid the liver, kidneys and gallbladder in particular. In Chinese medicine herbs are used to heal, this includes flowers, bark, roots and seeds. For example, if an herb is considered “warming,” it is given for cold conditions. An herb that is bitter would clear heat and detoxify. If an herb is sour it benefits the liver. If an herb is red it benefits the heart and blood. TCM creates herbal formulas that use a combination of different herbs to balance the formula and keep it safe.
Dandelion is considered a cold, bitter and slightly sweet herb. Its milky juice clears heat, detoxifies blood, reduces swelling and helps the early stages of a cold. Dandelion helps the liver and gallbladder by increasing bile production, and helping in cases of jaundice. Often dandelion is combined with licorice, milk thistle and fennel.
Here are some other key benefits of this flower:
It is a diuretic and aids the kidneys, urinary disorders, and may prevent kidney stones
Lowers blood pressure (as a diuretic)
Weight loss (as a diuretic)
Helps digestion, promotes appetite, increases bile, is a mild laxative
Stimulates the production of insulin by the pancreas for diabetes
Has iron, vitamins and protein to help anemia
Dandelion can be eaten, taken in a tea or as a supplement. Be careful of picking dandelion on your own and ingesting it, the area it grows in may be sprayed with harmful chemicals.
It is not recommended to start taking dandelion without consulting a healthcare professional. Dandelion is considered safe, but may cause digestive upset if taken in large quantities. It is also not recommended to combine dandelion with other herbs without consulting an herbal specialist. In TCM, the practitioner will record a patient history and make a careful diagnosis before prescribing an herbal formula designed specifically for your constitution.