Health Matters, March 2024


By Dr. Leigh Siergiewicz

Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are considered a weed by many, but if you have them, rather than toss them in the compost when you pull them up, use them as free food!

Take them from clean yards or woods; they may accumulate a lot of exhaust and roadside gunk if you take them from a busy street. (This general principle should apply to all wild food harvesting.)

Dandelions are healthy for the earth and for people. They aerate and replete minerals in the soil, they supply essential micronutrients, and can help support natural detoxification mechanisms. They are in the aster family and originated in Europe and Asia, but now grow in temperate regions all over the world.

All parts of dandelion are edible, but certain parts are best for specific uses. The most commonly used parts are the leaf and root, but flowers are sometimes used in recipes. For maximum effect, dandelion is best used medicinally over longer periods of time. The leaves can be cooked or used in salads, or dried and used as tea. The roots can be oven-roasted or dried and used in tea; some people consider dandelion roots an acceptable substitute for coffee.

Try eating the greens in salads or sautéed, or roasting the roots for yourself. After digging up and washing the roots, chop them into half-inch pieces and roast them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes until crispy. For tea, use a tablespoon of roasted root per cup of boiling water.

As part of a comprehensive, whole-person treatment plan, dandelion can help with liver and hormonal health, edema, skin and digestive health, promoting healthy blood vessels, cholesterol levels, and immunity, as well as anti-inflammation and blood sugar stabilization. The root is good for beneficial gut bacteria. Caution should be used in people with gallstones, as dandelion can promote bile flow, which could potentially cause obstruction of the bile duct. People who are allergic to other flowers in the aster family should not use dandelion.

It is difficult to emphasize the extensive health benefits of dandelions in a short article. A comprehensive review of the benefits of Taraxacum officinale on human health was published in 2021 – it is a lengthy summary of the most current scientific studies. Visit the Vashon Loop online to see this and other published resources. I encourage further learning and self-reliance in foraging and experimenting with dandelion yourself!

Additional reading

Di Napoli, A., Zucchetti, P. A comprehensive review of the benefits of Taraxacum officinale on human health. Bull Natl Res Cent 45, 110 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s42269-021-00567-1

Tilgner, S. (2009). Herbal medicine: From the heart of the Earth. Wise Acres.

Wood, M. (2008). The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants. North Atlantic Books.

March 7, 2024

About Author

dr. leigh Dr. Leigh Siergiewicz Naturopathic Doctor Schedule online at Betulanaturopathic.com