3 Reasons to Love Dandelion

Everyone knows what a dandelion is! The very young discover its stunning bright yellow flowers as they begin to explore their outdoor worlds. Its flowers are often gifted. The bouquet of the ‘littles’ presented to young mothers and grandmothers – and often without stems. Yet not everyone knows the absolute gold mine that dwells within this passionately loved… and sometimes equally despised humble plant.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a herbaceous perennial which “has a basal rosette of pinnately lobed leaves and a hollow stalk that supports a single head with many small, yellow, strap-shaped flowers (the tiny flowers collectively appear to be a single, large flower). The small seed-like fruits are born on a common receptacle and are tipped by an elongate, narrow beak, to which are attached an array of white bristles, which aid in wind dispersal. The leaves and flower stalks yield a white latex when bruised.”1

Dandelion is the low-growing cousin of the sunflower family. It is native to both Western Europe and the Mediterranean, but has now spread (by wind, bird, or settler) to every temperate climate. It prefers to grow in grassy locations and cultivated ground. Basically, wherever people are, dandelions are. This is perfect, because whether one knows it or not, we… need… dandelion.


Dandelion Improves the Soil!

More than the occasional dandelion is a sign of poor, deteriorated soil conditions. Dandelion prefers full sun and is tolerant of poor growing conditions. Its taproot can grow from six to 18 inches deep. This helps to break up compacted soil by drilling down into the earth, which both aerates and also draws minerals up into the topsoil where its shallow-rooted plant neighbors can benefit. In this way, dandelion conditions and prepares the soil, making it easier for other more delicate plant species to take hold and receive the nutrients they require.

Gardeners gain additional benefits by cultivating dandelion in their gardens as it attracts pollinating insects and also releases ethylene gas which assists fruit in ripening.

Who would have thought? All this from the lowly dandelion. A mighty tool designed to bring healing and restoration to the earth’s soil.

Dandelion is Nutritious Food!

One of the earliest plants to bloom in the spring, dandelion is a critical food source for pollinators, especially honey bees.

Dandelion is also an important source of food for herbivores such as deer and rabbits. Likewise, a variety farm animals actively seek out dandelion. They instinctively know that after a long winter their bodies need the powerhouse nutritional ‘superfood’ that this unassuming herb so generously provides.



In the Netherlands, the common name for dandelion is “paardebloem”, which when translated means “horse flower”. The name “horse-flower first appeared in 1906 as a general accepted name in the book “Dutch plant names” of Henry Heukels. The name probably originated because of the fact that horses (also rabbits and pigs) love to eat the leaves of this plant and that it was commonly used as feed. Sometimes it was even named ‘horse-lettuce’.”2

Any horse pasture will soon find itself cleared of dandelion’s little yellow disks as equines actively seek them out. After a long winter and the nutritionally-depleted stored hay of late spring just before first cutting is ready, dandelion greens serve to cleanse the blood of all who will partake.

The First Dandelion

Simple and fresh and fair from winter’s close emerging,
As if no artifice of fashion, business, politics, had ever been,
Forth from its sunny nook of shelter’d grass—innocent, golden, calm as the dawn,
The spring’s first dandelion shows its trustful face.

~ Walt Whitman ~

However, dandelion is not only for animals. Back in the day, in the late winter before it was time to plant spring gardens, common folk knew to forage for the early-producing greens such as dandelion.

The modern newbie forager can heave a sigh of relief that dandelion has no poisonous look-alikes. So there is no reason to hold back. Dandelion is one amazing herb that everyone can confidently get their hands on!

As a young girl, I remember my mother digging dandelions in the early spring to remove them from our yard. She saved the green leaves and prepared them for dinner. At our house, we ate them just one way. Mom would pan fry some bacon, then add the dandelion greens to the pan until they were well wilted. Then she would serve them with a little apple cider vinegar.

NOTE: Never consume dandelions that are growing near or have been contaminated with lawn fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, or any other chemicals.


Buds (unopened flowers) – Salads, stir fry, etc.

Flowers – Snack, salads, wine. Try your hand at mixing the yellow petals into softened butter with a touch of added honey for a delicious treat on bread and muffins! 

Leaves – Salads (the youngest leaves are always the sweetest). When they become more bitter: sauté, add to soups, use as a pot herb, casseroles, mix with other greens in pesto, etc. The greens can also be used as a spinach substitute in any recipe. 

Dandelion leaves are delicious and rich in nutrients. The raw leaves contain vitamins: A, thiamine (B-1), riboflavin (B-2), niacin (B-3), pyridoxine (B-6), folate (B-9), C, E, K, and the minerals: calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, and selenium.

HINT: To reduce the bitter taste of the older leaves either cook them like a potherb in one change of water and/or add a dash of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.

Crowns (The part between the root and the leaves.) – Can be sautéed or fried.

Roots – As a root vegetable process the dandelion root in a similar manner to a mature beet which has a thick outer layer.  Steam for 2 minutes, put in cool water, then easily peel the outer skin of off the taproot as it is bitter. Next, place the cleaned roots in a pan of water.  Bring to a boil, then simmer until soft.  It is delicious served with butter with a taste similar to a parsnip.

The root of the dandelion contains one of the best sources of inulin (a plant fiber) which is considered a prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria in the gut. Inulin also provides a feeling of fullness and clears the body of cholesterol.

To make a coffee-like beverage dandelion root can be roasted and ground, then used as a tea.

To prepare the root for roasting, thoroughly wash and dry them then chop them into small bits.  Next, spread the root thinly on a baking sheet and place it in the oven at 250–300 degrees.  Stir every 15 minutes to roast evenly.  The roasting process will likely take anywhere from one and a half to two hours to be complete.  During this time the color will develop into a rich brown and the roasted roots will give off a fragrant aroma.

When done, cool and store the root in a glass container.  Use a coffee grinder, Vitamix, or blender to grind up the roasted dandelion into grounds and add to coffee, or make a tea.

Roasted dandelion root is enjoyable in combination with other herbs such as chicory root, cacao, ginger, vanilla, or cinnamon to name a few. Here’s a recipe for you to enjoy:

Darlene’s Mocha Delight!

~ A Delicious, Health-Promoting Coffee Substitute ~

  • 1 Cup Dandelion Root, Roasted (cut & sifted)
  • 1 Cup Chicory Root, Roasted (cut & sifted)
  • 1 Heaping TSP Cacao, powdered
  • 1/4 TSP Powdered Cinnamon

In a pint jar, combine all the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Label and store with a secure lid.

Add 1/2 – 1 scant teaspoon (more or less as desired) to a tea infuser for each 8 to 16 ounces of water. (I like to use large coffee mugs for my tea!)

Pour boiling hot water over the tea and allow to steep for 3 to 5 minutes for a delicious “coffee-substitute” beverage. Steep longer – 10 to 15 minutes or steep the first tea a second time to draw out more nutrients and increase the health benefits.

Be sure to add some almond milk, coconut milk, or a maybe a little of both and you are good to go. There is a natural sweetness to this recipe that does not require additional sweeteners. It is great cold as the “chocolaty” taste seems to increase as it cools. Yum.

“Coffee people” and “non-coffee” people are pleasantly surprised when they try this hot beverage. It is satisfying, delicious, and provides a nutrient boost the body really craves.

Dandelion leaves and roots do not have the same nutrient composition. The nutrient analysis below will reveal some of the major differences. The data provided is in 100 grams of dandelion leaf or root, respectively. Where information is blank no data was provided.

Dandelion is a Valuable Medicinal!

English Name: Dandelion
Binomial Name: Taraxacum officinale
Plant Family: Asteracae (Compositae)
Parts Used: Root, Leaf
Herbal Actions: Diuretic, hepatic, cholagogue, anti-rheumatic, laxative, tonic, bitter


Indications – LEAF: As a diuretic, dandelion leaf is preferable to the root. “Dandelion leaf is a powerful diuretic, with an action comparable to that of the drug furosemide. The usual effect of a drug that stimulated kidney function is loss of vital potassium from the body, which can aggravate any cardiovascular problem that may be present. Dandelion leaf, however, is not only an effective diuretic, but also one of the best natural sources of potassium. It is thus an ideally balanced remedy that may be used safely whenever diuretic action is needed, even for water retention related heart problems. Overall, this herb is a most valuable general tonic and perhaps the best widely applicable diuretic and liver tonic.”3

Indications – ROOT: Dandelion root (not the leaf) should be selected for conditions associated with:

> Liver and gallbladder such as inflammation, congestion, chronic jaundice, and high cholesterol.

> Autointoxication which occurs when “the waste products of metabolism, decomposed matter from the intestine, or the products of dead and infected tissue, as in gangrene” are not properly eliminated from the body.4

> Aphthous ulcers canker sore-type ulcers commonly located in the mouth, genitals, or intestines.

> Digestive disturbances like loss of appetite, chronic gastritis, constipation, or diarrhea.

> Used topically for skin disorders (acne, eczema, psoriasis, rashes, and boils) the milky white latex “sap” is alkaline which may help curb itching skin and eczema. In addition, its anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties may reduce acne-causing bacteria and other skin infections. The latex appears to speed the healing of scars and the red inflammation caused by acne.  Dandelion sap also seems to work very well with sensitive skin, although for those allergic to plants in the Asteracae family, dandelion would be contraindicated.

> Diabetes may be helped by stimulating insulin sensitivity as well as insulin production by the pancreas which aids in controlling blood sugar levels.

> Certain Autoimmune conditions and blood disorders such as rheumatism and anemia.

NOTE: When using herbs medicinally, always be sure they are organic or responsibly wildcrafted. Wildcrafted herbs should be gathered in areas distant from chemical spraying or ‘drift’ that occurs from conventional crop pesticide use.

Have you ever gardened with, eaten, or used dandelion medicinally? If you have not, learning to use this common plant is very beneficial. You’ll be glad you did!


  1. Ancestral Plants: A Primitive Skills Guide to Important Edible, Medicinal, and Useful Plants of the Northeast – Volume 1 by Arthur Haines p.184
  2. 2
  3. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine by David Hoffman p.587
  4. 4

Herbal Awareness ~ Stevia

The Food and Drug Administration approved Stevia as a healthy (because it does not contribute sugar to the diet) “natural” sweetener, although very little has been studied about Stevia’s (Stevia rebaudiana) contraceptive component.

That should not come as a surprise because, well, if Stevia is an effective contraceptive, then pharmaceutical companies will not gain profit from investing in research. Additionally, they stand to lose money especially among those looking for a more natural alternative to sweet without the calories.

My primary concern is not that Stevia is an under-studied herbal contraceptive alternative for those seeking birth-control measures. My concern lies in the fact that couples desiring to conceive who are making dietary and lifestyle changes in preparation for a much-wanted child, may be thwarted in their efforts by the consumption of Stevia. Stevia causes both male and female infertility.

Historically, among the Indians in Paraguay, where Stevia is a native weed, the plant is not used as a sweetener but as a common contraceptive.

The glycosides in Stevia are very similar structurally to certain plant hormones. When the plant is manufactured (or “purified”), one of the ten balancing hormones (eight of these are sweet) becomes isolated from the others. Although some studies say that this is safe, other studies suggest that these plant glycosides having this hormone structure can act as a mutagen and at very high concentrations, increase the risk of cancer. Although most people, will not ingest these processed forms of Stevia in great enough quantities for this to be of concern, it may be significant enough to impair those with autoimmune disease. In this case, the outside influence of hormones can potentially speed disease development and progression.

One study on the contraceptive properties of Stevia in 1968 (there’s not much, folks) performed on adult female rats whose fertility was proven, gave them a decoction (strong tea) of the herb. It was found to decrease fertility for at least 50 to 60 days even after they stopped ingesting it. 1

Another study done in 1999, asserts that tested prepubescent male rats on a mere 60 days of an aqueous extract (basically, a strong tea) resulted in a decrease in the final weight of the testis, seminal vesicle, and cauda epididymidis (the tube that connects a testicle to a vas deferens in the male reproductive system.) The Stevia solution also lowered the fructose content of the male sex glands and decreased the epididymal sperm concentration as well as a marked decreased their testosterone level. 2 These are major changes in very young male rats. There is no information regarding whether these changes are completely reversible when use is discontinued. I would expect that traditionally Stevia was not given to young children as they do not procreate. So what are we doing to our kids by allowing them to consume foods and beverages containing Stevia? We really have no clue how Stevia affects young developing males, or females for that matter. Most of us never knew it had contraceptive actions.

Traditionally, Stevia was used as a contraceptive agent by females. It was not used as a food (sweetener) as we, in our modern culture have decided it can be used. The Stevia plant has been sweet for thousands of years, but we with our burgeoning intellect decide we can ‘fake out’ our ravenous sweet tooths with it. This information is something to chew on. Or maybe not. The fact that this plant has such a bitter aftertaste might actually be its redeeming quality. Perhaps we should take heed.

Holistic Health Practitioners and Herbalists need to be aware of all of the herbal actions of Stevia in order to recommend appropriate dietary changes and remedies for their clients. From the limited amount of sometimes conflicting information, there is not much to pull from. I would give much credence to how this plant was used historically. When an herb is well-known in an entire culture for a specific effect and is utilized as such for hundreds of years, even though modern society has not yet studied it out, we ought to use wisdom in our recommendations.

We know that the natives used Stevia’s aerial parts to make teas for consumption. Our modern culture processes it, bleaches it white, and does who-knows-what to the plant even to the isolating of plant constituents – just like a pharmaceutical and still has the audacity to call it “natural”. We have no real knowledge how those changes affect the herbal properties. Me, I would skip them and just use the leaves – or avoid anything labeled Stevia entirely, especially if you – a male or a female – want to have a baby.

Seriously, when we crave sweets that much it is an indicator that something systemic going on the body. It will not be corrected by consuming alternative sweeteners as a substitute. To get free from the cravings there are other steps required.

If you have questions, please post them below. If you desire a personalized consult for this or other health-related issues, please feel free to schedule an initial consult or a free 15-minute Discovery Session HERE. I would like to assist.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Herbs & The Bees, LLC, or its staff do not diagnose or prescribe. Our purpose is to provide information, products and suggested wellness programs to those who will share responsibility for their personal well-being. Our services are not a substitute for medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please consult a licensed physician.

References & Resources:

Stevia Image Source: https://pixabay.com/en/stevia-leaf-sugar-plant-sweetness-74187/

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17744732

2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10619379

Population, Resources, Environment: Issues In Human Ecology by Paul R. and Anne H. Ehrlich




Herbs for Horses ~ Devil’s Claw Root

Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) an herbal remedy for pain and inflammation.

Devil’s Claw is known for its many actions on both the human body and in horses. It has been found to be anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain relieving), somewhat sedative, have anti-rheumatic properties, and due to its bitter qualities – a diuretic and stimulant to the liver. This makes it beneficial for people and pony’s (horses) with poor appetites and indigestion.

While it is the tuber that is used medicinally, the botanical name in Greek, Harpagophytum, means “hook plant”. A name derived from its hard, claw-like fruit.

It can be used both internally and externally but is most often taken internally. If used in small amounts it can be top dressed on the horse’s grain ration if they’re a good eater. But beware, Devil’s Claw is extremely bitter. It also can be dosed in a 60cc syringe mixed with a tablespoon of applesauce and, if needed, a drizzle of honey. In an acute situation with a horse not used to the taste of Devil’s Claw, I would recommend using the syringe. If the situation is chronic, with patience, your horse most likely will develop a taste for it (or at least a tolerance for it) and if not used in high doses, a topdressing may be suitable. I have used it both ways.

It is worth consideration in the treatment of arthritis and similar chronic conditions and may be effective in any kind of degenerative joint disorder, or bony changes that result in inflammation.

“Several studies show that taking devil’s claw for 8 to 12 weeks can reduce pain and improve physical functioning in people with osteoarthritis. One 4-month study of 122 people with knee and hip osteoarthritis compared devil’s claw and a leading European medication for pain relief. The people who took devil’s claw had as much pain relief as the people who took the medication. Those who took devil’s claw had fewer side effects and needed fewer pain relievers throughout the study.

An analysis of 14 studies using devil’s claw to treat arthritis found that higher quality studies showed devil’s claw may relieve joint pain. And a review of 12 studies using devil’s claw for treating arthritis or low back pain found that devil’s claw was at least moderately effective for arthritis of the spine, hip, and knee.” 1

Devil’s Claw is commonly used in both Germany and France to reduce inflammation, relieve arthritis pain, headache, and low back pain. Extensive German studies have likened its anti-inflammatory properties to that of cortisone and phenylbutazone, more commonly called “Bute,” but without the toxicity or undesirable side-effects.

“Side effects of phenylbutazone are similar to those of other NSAIDs. Overdose or prolonged use can cause gastrointestinal ulcers, blood dyscrasia, kidney damage (primarily dose-dependant renal papillary necrosis), oral lesions if given by mouth, and internal hemorrhage. This is especially pronounced in young, ill, or stressed horses which are less able to metabolize the drug. Effects of gastrointestinal damage include edema of the legs and belly secondary to leakage of blood proteins into the intestines, resulting in decreased appetite, excessive thirst, weight loss, weakness, and in advanced stages, kidney failure and death. Phenylbutazone can also cause agranulocytosis.” 2

For those who enter their horse(s) in competitions, you will have to verify whether the use of Devil’s Claw is allowed. Although not banned, according to the FEI, Devil’s Claw is considered a controlled substance. While it may be used outside of competition, it may not be in your horse’s system during a competition. It is thought to give the horse an unfair advantage. Here is the link: http://prohibitedsubstancesdatabase.feicleansport.org/search/ You will need to inquire about and follow all rules pertaining to the use of Devil’s Claw in any horse show(s) your horse is entered in.

For those who enter their horse(s) in competitions, you will have to verify whether the use of Devil’s Claw is allowed. Although not banned, according to the FEI, Devil’s Claw is considered a controlled substance. While it may be used outside of competition, it may not be in your horse’s system during a competition. It is thought to give the horse an unfair advantage. Here is the link: http://prohibitedsubstancesdatabase.feicleansport.org/search/ You will need to inquire about and follow all rules pertaining to the use of Devil’s Claw in any horse show(s) your horse is entered in.

References & Resources:

The Herbs & The Bees, LLC, or its staff do not diagnose or prescribe. Our purpose is to provide information, products and suggested wellness programs to those whowill share responsibility for their personal well being. Our services are not a substitute for medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please consult a licensed physician. If you are seeking medical advice for your equine, please consult a licensed veterinarian.

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