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Health Corner
By Julene Tripp Weaver

Wild Weed Walk: Focus on Dandelion
Latin: Taraxacum officinale

Thank you for inviting me to lead an herbal walk, or what I call a weed walk. Some of the common plants we found were dandelion, plantain, chickweed, yarrow, mallow, blackberry, rose hips, red clover and wild lettuce. Many of these wild weeds can be harvested, in this article I'm going to review dandelion and provide some ideas on how to use this plant.

On the weed walk we discussed the vitality of wild plants and why eating wild plants is important for our bodies. According to Susun Weed, wild plants have the most to offer us in both nutrition and energetic healing. A wild plant chooses where it wants to grow, it survives despite obstacles, and it is strong because of its survival under stressful conditions. We've all probably dealt with tenacious weeds that would not go away no matter what we did. These weeds are survivors and have a lot to teach our bodies. These wild plants contain an original vibration and when we start to eat these foods our cells will resonate.

A way to look at it metaphorically is the difference of using a copy key versus the master key. The master key is always better, the others work, but the further you get from the master key the greater the chance it will not work. Our food supply has expanded very far from the master foods or the wild foods. The first cultivated foods were grown to feed the animals, people still gathered wild foods for themselves. It was only in time, and eventually for the sake of convenience, that people began to eat cultivated foods. Processed foods or cultivated foods are not as vital as wild foods. Think about a box of corn flakes next to a fresh picked ear of corn. Now think about a head of iceberg lettuce next to a basket of fresh picked dandelion greens. In either case there is no comparison, the fresh ear of corn is more vital than the corn flakes, the dandelion leaves are more vital than the iceberg lettuce. Wild foods are the master keys that can help our bodies regain strength and vitality.

The first plant we observed was the dandelion, it grows everywhere and many of you are already familiar with it. It is wild and considered a weed by most, however for many of our ancestors it was used on a regular basis as a food source. This is one of the wild weeds I incorporate into my life as much as possible.

Dandelion (Latin: Taraxacum officinale) All of this plant can be used. The leaves are excellent in salads or stirfrys, they taste best when young in the springtime or the fall, however they can be eaten all year round. The nutrition in the dandelion leaves goes off the chart beating all other greens! It contains carotenoids (beta carotene, lutein, and many of the 800 carotenoids), vitamins A, B, C, D, potassium and iron. Dandelion is one of the best natural sources of potassium, so even though the leaves act as a mild diuretic they do not leach potassium from the body, what potassium is urinated out is replaced. In other words, they do not interfer with the potassium sodium ratio in the body. It is an excellent vegetable to use to stimulate digestion and can be used to stabilize cases of high blood pressure or hypertension.

The root is a mild laxative that stimulates the liver and gallbladder. The dried and roasted roots have been used as a coffee substitute, having a similar taste and action. Like coffee, dandelion is a bitter, and it has a cholagogue effect on the liver. A bitter acts through our taste buds, so we need the taste of the bitter on our tongue to begin to stimulate the secretion of digestive juices and the activity of the liver. Many herbalist suggest the use of dandelion when there is constipation, it is a good first step to stimulate bowel movement via the liver. The roots can be sliced and stir fried fresh, although slightly less nutritive than the leaves they still have an abundance of calcium and other vitamins and minerals.
Contraindication: If you are having a gall bladder attack do not use dandelion root because it increases the flow of bile (this is what cholagogue means) and would make the attack worse.

Both the greens and the roots can be made into a nutritional vinegar. How to make nutritional vinegar: Pack a jar full of the plant material and cover with apple cider vinegar. Label it with the date and name of the plant. The second day, after it settles, top it off with more vinegar and put a layer of plastic between the metal cap and the vinegar. Vinegar and metal interact in a way that will eventually seal the metal to the glass and could prevent the top from opening. The vinegar will be ready to use in six to eight weeks. Use it as a condiment on almost any food, use it in cooking, or in salad dressings and marinades. I don't bother to strain mine out, in fact I eat the pickled leaves or roots along with the vinegar. Using nutritional vinegars is a great way to add nutrients to your diet, boost the stomach's hydrochloric acid (HCL) level, and assist in digestion and absorption. The roots are rich in starch, so if you make a vinegar of the roots the starch settles and you will want to shake it each time you are going to use it. Almost any of the wild plants can be used in this way.

The white milky sap of the dandelion can be used to dissolve worts. The flowers have historically been made into wine, Susun Weed also makes an oil infusion from the flowers that can be rubbed on our breasts to strengthen the immune system. Quoted from her book Breast Cancer? Breast Health, 1996, she says, "Regular use of dandelion flower oil promotes deep relaxation of the breast tissues, facilitating the release of held emotions. Applied regularly to the entire breast area, glowing golden dandelion flower oil can strengthen your sense of self worth as well as your immune system" (page 63). How to make Dandelion Flower Oil: With the making of any oil the plant picked must be dried so it will not mold in the oil. Plants already contain moisture so you want as little as possible on the plant. Pick the plant on a dry day after the morning dew has burnt off, a good sunny day in the late afternoon is best. When the flowers are in season (they are in season right now) clip them and fill a small dry jar, I use a dark brown bottle with a wide top. Do not fill all the way to the top. Cover the flowers with olive oil, use a chop stick or a knife to make sure the oil gets all the way into the flowers, add more oil to top off, cap and sit in a bowl. Dandelion flowers contain a gas that helps fruit trees ripen. When in the oil these gasses emit and the oil will overflow even with the top on. I use the overrun oil on my breasts as it sits and is in process. Put the label on the top of the lid remembering to write the date. Let it sit for 6 weeks, then using cheesecloth or a cotton cloth (handkerchief or napkin or dish cloth), decant and wring out the oil into another bottle. Add some Vitamin E oil to help preserve it from going rancid (the capsules can be broken, the oil added and blended in). Store your infused oil in a cool, dry place. This same procedure can be used to make other flower blossom oils such as calendula, red clover, St. John's Wort, or yarrow.

Disclaimer: Please be advised this is a sharing of information that is not meant to be used to replace medical treatment and your own intuitive sense of your body and what it needs. Please see your medical provider (Dr., Naturopath, Acupuncturist, etc.) to follow up on suggestions.