D is for Dandelion (and Diuretic)
Common Name: Dandelion
Genus species: Taraxacum officinale
Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)
Along with being an herbalist, I’m also a word-geek, which in the case of dandelion is quite useful. The root of the word dandelion comes from the Old French, ‘dente lion’, meaning ‘tooth of the lion’. This speaks to its dentate or ‘toothed’ leaves, a prominent characteristic.
The modern French name for dandelion “pissenlit” (piss-on-li), is echoed in the American south as “piss a bed”, which translates pretty well. As a potent diuretic, dandelion helps increase urinary secretions. “Why on earth would you want that?!”, I hear you ask. Well, lets take a look at this and a few of Dandelions other medicinal actions:
Diuretic: Makes you pee! While this may sound a bit unnecessary, and possibly uncomfortable, an herbal diuretic can be useful for a number of reasons. Dandelion leaf can be used to help alleviate inflammation of the urinary tract (recovery from those UTIs gals), and can help to prevent kidney stones. It’s also used (in carefully monitored doses) to help with managing high blood pressure.
Bitter: That bitter flavor when you bite into a dandelion leaf pushes all the right digestive buttons. It helps promote all of your digestive secretions, from saliva in your mouth to bile from your gallbladder. This gallbladder squeeze also promotes healthy bowel movements, making dandelion a gentle laxative as well as a digestive stimulant.
Nutritive: Dandelion leaves are chock full of vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, calcium, vitamin A, and magnesium. They are also full to the brim of lutien, a potent antioxidant.
More in Part 2!