After the recent cold weather dandelions are starting to grow again. They are important food for emerging bumblebees so please consider this when gardening. This commonly cursed weed is also a versatile herb. The leaf is commonly used for its diuretic properties. The French name 'piss-en-lit' or 'wet the bed' reflects this. This is because research has shown that it is comparable to furosemide, a commonly prescribed drug. The real value of dandelion as a diuretic is that it is very high in potassium, a mineral essential for heart health, which is normally removed from the body by diuretics. Dandelion actually gives you more than it takes. Nature does seem to wrap things up in really useful packages.
The root is more focused on the digestive system, with its bitter taste stimulating our digestive tract (including our liver), it gets us ready for food. As a herbalist I love my bitter foods and strongly believe that the majority of us do not eat enough. I think that if we embraced the bitter taste we would have many less digestive problems. And if our digestive system is working effectively, we can absorb many more nutrients from our foods, as well as clearing waste products much more effectively. So next time you make a salad please consider reaching for the spinach, watercress, artichokes, dandelion leaves ….
Taking all this into account I tend to use dandelions as part of an individualised prescription for, among other things: digestive complaints e.g. IBS, indigestion, diverticulosis, hormonal conditions (good liver function is key in these) e.g. menopause, PMS, period pain, polycystic ovaries, and skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne. It has also been traditionally used for the aches and pains of arthritis.
When to consult the herbalist:
If you are taking any medications, if you have other health issues you would like to address, if you want something tailored to your individual needs or if the above remedies are not suiting you. The herbalist will take a full case history including past medical history, drug history and family history and from this will devise a regime suitable for you.