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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.