Dandelions (Herba Taraxaci Mongolici cum Radice or pú gōng yīng) become a common sight as plants start their re-emergence during the Spring-time. I love the name dandelion, originating from French, "dent-de-lion" or lion's teeth; clearly identifying the leaves of this plant, which resemble a mouthful of sharp teeth.
Most grocery stores will carry dandelion leaves in their produce section (or ask them to start carrying them!) or hopefully your local farmer's market. Soaking the leaves as you would any other vegetable in a vinegar/water solution should do a sufficient job of cleaning the leaves.
Dandelions have a variety of medicinal qualities, being native to Europe, Asia, and North America. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), dandelion leaves are bitter, sweet, & cool in nature. TCM is based upon a system of channels or meridians, that run throughout our bodies. There are a minimum of two channels associated with a particular season of the year & Spring is associated with the Liver & Gall-bladder meridians, as well as the color green. There is a clear connection with the green of dandelion leaves, which means they soothe & support both of these meridians - helping you feel more balanced & supported. It's simple to recollect green's relation to Spring, as it's the color that becomes so predominant in nature after a bleak winter.
It's much too early in the season to eat dandelion leaves raw. Instead I recommend finely chopping the leaves & adding them to soups, stews, or cooking with any other vegetables you might be preparing. Please keep in mind when cooking green vegetables that they need to be simmered for a minimum of 1 hour, which will guarantee the extraction of vital minerals from the vegetables & allow them to be more readily absorbed. Also, whichever type of liquid you simmer your vegetables in, be sure to consume, or you're throwing away your nutrients! Specifically, dandelion is full of vitamins A, B, C, and D, as well as minerals, such as iron, potassium, & zinc.
The fresh flowers of dandelion can be used to make dandelion oil, excellent for breast health. In TCM, the Liver channel crosses the breasts, so can directly influence their well-being. Susun Weed gives an excellent run-down on harvesting & preparing dandelion oil, which can be used topically on the breasts. TCM coincidentally views dandelion as helpful in instance of mastitis. (The content provided here is for information purposes only and is in no way intended to be a substitute for medical consultation with a qualified professional. We encourage Internet users to be careful when using medical information. If you are unsure about your medical condition, consult your own health practitioner. We cannot assume any liability for the content of Web sites linked to and from our site.)
I certainly hope you are enjoying the return of Spring & longer day-light! If you're in the need for a Spring tune-up, or you would like more specific information about food or herbal therapy, please schedule your appointment today! Here's to your health! - Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist at Bluegrass Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine in Lexington, Kentucky.
About the Author:
Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist, currently practicing in the gorgeous, horse capital of the world: Lexington, Kentucky.