Botanical Name: Taraxacum officinale
Indian Name: Kukraundha or Kanphool
Origin, Distribution and Composition of Dandelion
Dandelion is a hardy perennial herb and a tasty salad vegetable. The flower stems of this plant grow up to a height of 30 cm. The sharply-toothed leaves form flat rosettes on the ground. The fleshy hollow stem carries a single bright yellow flower.
The common name dandelion comes from the French dent de lion, meaning lion's tooth and refers to the dentate leaf edges. However, some believe that the. name is derived from the resemblance of the yellow flower petals to an heraldic lion's golden teeth. The name of the genus comes from the Greek taraxos meaning disorders and akos meaning remedy, indicating the curative qualities of the herb.
A very common plant, dandelion grows wild almost everywhere. Dandelion is native to. Europe . In India it is found throughout the Himalayas, from 300 to 5400 metres and in the Mishmi Hills.
Nutritionally, the dandelion has .remarkable value. It contains almost as . much iron as spinach, four times the vitamin A content of lettuce and is a very rich source of magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, calcium and sodium. An analysis of dandelion shows it to consist of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Its mineral and vitamin contents are calcium, phosphorus; iron, magnesium, sodium, potassium, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamins C and A. Its calorific value is 45.
Dandelion contains a bitter crystalline principle, taraxacin and a crystalline substance, taraxacerin. It also contains the phytosterols, taraxasterol and humotaraxasterol.
Medicinal uses of dandelion
diuretic, tonic and slightly aperient. It acts as a general body stimulant, but chiefly acts on the liver and kidneys. Dandelion is used as a bitter tonic in atonic dyspepsia as a mild laxative and to promote increased appetite and digestion. The herb is best used in combination with other herbs and is used in many patent medicines. Roasted dandelion root is also used as a coffee substitue and helps ease dyspepsia, gout and rheumatism.
Healing Power and Curative Properties of Dandelion
One can find the significant medicinal values of Dandelion from the Arabian writings of the 10th century, Welsh manuscripts of the 13th century and English herbal literature of the 16th and 17th centuries. Thanks to the efforts of herbalists, its virtues are now well known and respected, both for its therapeutic properties and as an alternative to tea and coffee.
The entire plant is used by many herbalists, although the tea is usually brewed from its root, which is a tonic. It increases the secretion and discharge of urine and acts as a mild purgative.
The readily available organic magnesium in dandelion makes the juice of the leaves, with or without the roots, valuable for all bone disorders. It is often mixed with juices of the leaves of carrots and turnips for treating these disorders.
Liver and Gall Bladder Dysfunctions
Dandelion benefits both liver and gall bladder in their vital role of handling fats within the body and aiding the detoxifying role of the liver. It is, therefore, useful in the disorders of these organs. Combined with the juice of watercress and with a diet without meat or much sugar and starch, it helps to make the liver and the gall bladder normal, and exercises a beneficial effect upon the nervous system. Sufferers from hepatitis can greatly benefit from dandelion tea.
Dandelion can be used as a general body tonic for its influence in supporting waste functions of bowels, bladder and skin, which are the hard-working eliminating organs of our body.
Dandelion tea, made from the buds, flowers, fresh leaves or even blanched leaves, can be very useful in cases of urinary disorders. Its familiar names of 'piss-le-lit' and 'bed-wetter' point to its characteristic effect, that of increasing the flow of urine. It can be very helpful in cases of slow start to passing urine. It is, however, important with most urinary troubles to drink plenty of water or other harmless, non-alcoholic drinks so that there can be a free flow of urine.
Dandelion is useful in the treatment of warts. The milk from the cut end of dandelion should be put on the wart twice or thrice a day
Other Uses and benefits of Dandelion
Tender leaves of dandelion are used as a tasty salad vegetable. The leaves should be torn to pieces rather than cut to keep their pungent flavour. These can also be cooked in a little boiling water or in combination with spinach and cooked in the same way. A tasty and beneficial soup can be made with chopped dandelion leaves. The dried leaves are used for tea and as an ingredient in diet drinks. Dandelion coffee is made from its dried, roasted and ground roots. It is a natural beverage, without the harmful effects of the conventional tea and coffee.