Monday, March 19, 2012

Want a Little Internal Spring Cleaning . . . Dandelions are the Key!

On Saturday my daughter Allison will be celebrating a milestone birthday!  So in her honor I am dedicating all of my blog posts this week to things that really interest her.  That means you are going to be treated from the inside out and from top to bottom with cleansing juices, teas, tinctures, masks and scrubs, because Allison loves to do a big “spring cleanse” every year and this year we are inviting you to join us! 

To kick off this week of healthy options for your own internal “spring cleaning” I wanted to start you with some information and uses of one of my favorites – the often underappreciated and maligned dandelion!

As children you may have loved wishing on a dandelion as you sent it’s downy seeds blowing in the wind, but as an adult you likely consider it a pesky weed, but dandelions were once considered elixirs of health by our ancestors . . . and they were on to something!

One of the first edible greens of early spring, our ancestors made fresh salads from the leaves as a way to cleanse and rejuvenate the liver as well as the blood and to improve digestion after a long winter of heavy foods; ground the roots to make medicinal poultices as cures for acne, boils and rashes, roasted the roots to make coffee; and tinctured the flowers and leaves in alcohol as elixirs for the liver, kidneys and the blood. 

What our ancestors may not have known is that dandelions are rich in vitamins A, C, D and B-complex, plus they are a treasure trove of minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese, copper, calcium, boron, slicon and even choline!  After a long winter with few greens and fresh vegetables these slightly bitter greens were like a ray of sunshine on their dinner plates!

Like all slightly bitter greens, dandelions stimulate bile which not only improves digestion, it also aids in detoxifying the liver.  Since your liver has so many responsibilities – from cleansing your blood to breaking down fats to manufacturing the precursors of your hormones – it is the hardest working organ in your body!  So if your liver is burdened you may experience an imbalance in your hormones, skin problems like acne or rashes, lethargy, bloating, weight gain, insomnia and even allergies!

The 2 primary active ingredients responsible for the digestive, liver and kidney support, eudesmanolide and germacranolide, are completely unique to dandelions.  In fact, a clinical trial study demonstrated that when the leaves are consumed in relatively large amounts (approximately 2 grams per 2.5 pounds of body weight), have the same diuretic effect as the prescription drug Lasix!

As you can probably guess, the dandelion leaves, roots and flowers must be free from even trace amounts of chemical fertilizers and herbicides to be ingested.  So if you have a totally organic garden, don’t throw those dandelions in the compost pile, dig them up and use them.

How to Use Dandelions

To stimulate digestion – add fresh organic leaves to your salad or take 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon dandelion tincture before meals.  I prefer Herb Pharm brand tincture.

 To detoxify/support the liver and gallbladder – take 1 teaspoon 3 times per day before meals for 10 days.  Add to salads regularly during the 10 day period and add a handful to your greens for juicing. 

 As a diuretic – drink 2 cups of dandelion tea per day made from 2 teaspoons dried leaves added to 1 cup of boiling water.  Add fresh leaves to a salad or wilt as a side dish.

 To treat bee stings, calluses and warts – apply the white sap from the stems or roots directly on affected area.

 To make your own powerful multi-purpose tincture – fill a pint jar with the leaves, roots and flowers of clean organic dandelions, packing tightly.  Cover with 100 proof potato vodka and store in a cool dark place at least 6 months.  This tincture is strong and can be used as a diuretic, a liver/gallbladder support or detoxifier, as well as a digestive aid.

For many generations indigenous healers around the world have been using dandelions to treat many ailments from respiratory illnesses to acne and from calluses to fatigue!  So to start this week of ultra healthy suggestions, use some dandelion tincture, juice or tea to begin your own “spring cleaning” from the inside out!  Your liver will love you for it!

To your health!

Dr. P

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