That annoying weed you see popping up everywhere is actually an incredibly useful plant with many nutritional and medicinal values!
Taraxacum officinale (folia) a.k.a Dandelion leaves
The leaves are full of vitamins and minerals, most noted is potassium, this is particularly of importance as dandelion leaves are diuretic but the potassium lost through the urine is then also replaced simultaneously, unlike many conventional drugs that treat the kidneys. Therefore, the dandelion leaves are useful in treating urinary problems such as cystitis, also for water retention if there is any oedema (such as effect caused by heart conditions) and in rheumatic conditions. The leaves when eaten are bitter so stimulate the bile ducts and can help in low appetite, gallbladder dysfunctions and indigestion. They can be eaten raw and added to salads, or you can infuse the dried/fresh leaves in boiled water to make an infusion to be drunk as a tea.
Taraxacum officinale (radix) a.k.a Dandelion root
The root is mainly used as a 'bitter', which is a tonic for the digestive system, helping in conditions such as constipation, jaundice, gallbladder disorders. The roots also have high levels of inulin which a source of food for the good gut bacteria, also known as a prebiotic. The roots can be chopped up and roasted and then used as a coffee substitute but with added health benefits and no caffeine content, a great alternative if you're trying to wean yourself off and cut down on the americanos!
My name is Helen Davison and I'm a NIMH registered practising Medical Herbalist based in Ramsbottom, Lancashire. I've had a keen interest in herbal remedies since my early teens and would experiment creating my own balms and bath bombs using natural ingredients, which prompted me in discovering and pursuing a career in Western Herbal Medicine.