Dandelion - nature's perfect farmacy
I’m right up there as the sunny dandelion’s No.1 Fan. This last week their radiant yellow flowers have burst forth on the somerset verges and fields. I just love a sunny spring day, and dandelions are a big part of the love.
For the herbalist, there are few plants that fill the heart with such joy as apart from the flowers lifting the spirits, the humble dandelion is literally nature’s best farmacy in one. The stems’ white latex milk treats warts; the bitter leaves are a salad’s delight as well as a super-effective digestive stimulant and kidney tonic. And while the fleshy roots are the bain of most gardeners, the herbalist waits patiently for autumn to harvest second-year roots as a liver tonic.
They’re so nutrient-rich - all parts for the dandelion have a bitter taste, which comes from the flavonoids that give dandelion its well deserved blood purifying properties. The bitter taste is also really useful if your horse’s appetite is waning as it stimulates the stomach juices to expect food, so helps to increase hunger.
These bitter compounds also work in the digestive system to increase the flow of urine; unlike other diuretics, dandelion contains vast amounts of potassium that restore the mineral balance in the kidneys as toxins are flushed out. The high amount of vitamins, calcium, potassium and other trace minerals in dandelion’s root balance the diuretic effects, and the highly volatile and bitter constituents in the root isolate toxins in the body and flush them from the system. Here’s irony - the poisons gardeners use to eradicate dandelions are the same toxins the dandelion weeds out from the body.
Dandelion is in most liver tonics due to its oils, the bitter resins that stimulate the digestive system. The gluey fibre in the whole plant has an astonishing ability to absorb and transport toxins from the bowels out of the body, balance intestinal microbes and soothe the digestive tract in the process. And its essential oils have both bacteriostatic and fungistatic properties, which means they stop bacteriums/fungals from reproducing).
Dandelion adds pizazz to apple cider vinegar as it’s so high in vitamins and minerals, so here’s a must-do mineral-rich Spring Vinegar, using ACV, for both our horses and us.
The most effective way to extract minerals from spring herbs is to make an infused vinegar using ACV and the young leaves of cleavers, nettles and dandelion – pick from midday onwards once the dew has gone from them.
For humans, use in a little water first thing in the morning, as a salad vinegar, or add 2-tsp to 1-tsp of honey in a mug of boiling water for a soothing sore-throat drink.
The dandelion is simply too cool for school - it's always got a place in my field.