New Series – The Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Herbal Medicine -Dandelion

I was going to call this the Witch’s Medicine Cabinet as at some points of my career I have been labelled as such. Once in Ireland a male client arrived in need of a complete lifestyle makeover prior to a heart operation. I asked him how he had heard of me and he ruefully responded…. ‘My doctor told me to get myself down to the witch at the dietary clinic and get some weight off before the operation.. he also told me not to say he recommended you!’ 

Herbal medicine has been part of our ancient and more modern history for thousands of years. Unfortunately there is no money to be made by the pharmaceutical companies when only a plant is processed. Therefore in the last twenty years particularly there has been a focused effort, at a very high level, to downgrade all alternative therapies including herbal remedies to quackery.  We can only now suggest that an alternative therapy MAY help you.

I have met many therapists over the years and the vast majority are professional, learned and dedicated men and women. Of course there are some who are in it for the money and are not worthy of the long and honourable tradition of healing. But you only have to read the headlines on both sides of the ocean to discover that doctors and other medical practitioners are not all they should be either!

Conservative estimates in the UK are that 12,000 plus patients die each year because of basic errors in their medical care. There are studies that put those impacted by bad diagnosis, incorrect prescribing of drugs and the side effects of those drugs on patients as several times that number.  I think it is telling that the NHS has a budget of over £15billion to pay negligence claims and to support patients effected for their lifetimes.

There have been some cases of bad reactions to a herbal remedy but I have seen more headlines about peanut, hair dye allergies and other reactions than I have serious side effects from using high quality tinctures.

Which brings me to a commonsense warning about herbal medicines.

Herbal medicines should be treated with respect and should only be used if you have read all the contraindications, possible side effects and never with any prescribed medication unless you have cleared with your doctor first.

This is particularly important if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant as taking specific herbal medicines can cause harm.

Go to a qualified herbalist or if you buy over the counter on online read all the instructions beforehand or enclosed in the packet. I always buy the more expensive and professionally prepared tinctures and have stayed with that brand for the last twenty years.

Having established that; I want to introduce you to herbs that can be taken as a prepared tincture but also those that you can include in your diet to improve and to maintain your health.

I am kicking off the series with Dandelion..

dandelion

Dandelion Herbal remedy and food.

This herb has been used medicinally, over the centuries, for a number of conditions that relate to the health of the blood. This includes anaemia, cholesterol problems, circulatory problems and diabetes. Additionally, it is a common component of detox complexes due to its diuretic properties and to help clear chest congestion, jaundice, rheumatic pain, gout, gallstones and insomnia.

It is an all-rounder and has enjoyed many different names in folklore. We know it most commonly as the Dandelion and are used to seeing its yellow flowers in the hedges and fields in the early summer. As children, most of us would have tried to tell the time by blowing on the puff-ball of seeds it produces in the autumn.

Its botanical name is Taraxacum officinalis and the name dandelion comes from the French dent de lion or lion’s teeth, a description of the distinctive serrated leaves of the herb. In Tudor times its diuretic properties were well known and it was given the more apt name of piss-in-the-bed. There were a number of superstitions surrounding the plant including its ability to foretell the number of years before a girl married and apparently if you saw the seeds being dispersed by the wind from the puff-ball rain was imminent. We have evidence that it was used medicinally since around 650 AD by the Chinese and it first appeared in European apothecaries in the late 15th century.

Apart from being used as a medicine, blanched dandelion leaves can be used in salads or prepared in the same way as spinach and dried leaves have been used for many years to make beer. A word of warning before you dash off and include as a speciality dish for your next dinner party, it can cause wind problems – as it is not digested or processed until it reaches the intestines.

Today, dandelion is mainly used as a diuretic. Most chemical diuretics cause a loss of potassium but this is not the case when using dandelion. As potassium is vital for correct fluid balance in the body, taking dandelion is a safer way to reduce any excessive water retention. However, taking any diuretic to remove excess fluid should always be done with caution. Fluid is essential to life and if you force your body to excrete fluids on a continuous basis you will be losing critical minerals and salt too. Only use occasionally and if your water retention persists then do consult your GP as it could be the result of an underlying systemic problem.

The roots of the dandelion have traditionally been used in liver tonics. They are rich in Choline a B vitamin that prevents fat from being trapped in the liver. When the liver is blocked with fat, metabolism is affected and can lead to liver disease and elevated cholesterol levels.

Gallstones tend to be formed if the gall bladder does not completely empty of the bile it has produced. Dandelion improves both the production and the delivery of the bile and can be used as a preventative for people prone to this problem.

The herb also contains inulin which is a naturally occurring oligosaccharide (simple sugars linked together). Inulin is indigestible by enzymes that normally metabolise starch so it is not broken down into simple sugars (monosaccharides) that can cause fluctuating blood sugar levels. It has been used by diabetics to help regulate their blood sugar levels but should always be used under medical supervision. If you are losing weight, however, it will help reduce your sugar cravings in the first few weeks until your body has adjusted to a lower sugar intake. Quite frankly the taste will do that for you anyway!

If you are overweight dandelion will help re-balance the fluids in your body and get rid of excess amounts initially. One of the other problems associated with obesity is inefficient fat metabolism and as bile is essential for this process increasing its production will also contribute to a healthy weight loss.

If you suffer from a bacteria and flora imbalance in the intestines, such as an overgrowth of Candida Albicans, eating dandelion leaves can help. The herb is a very efficient prebiotic which stimulates the growth of healthy, probiotic bacteria in the gut. Other probiotic formulas in yoghurt and milk are subject to various chemical processes on their way to the intestines before they can be effective. The dandelion is indigestible until it reaches the gut so is a much more potent source of friendly bacteria.

You can pick dandelions from the hedgerows and use as a food or buy an herbal tincture from a health food shop. There are a couple of restrictions. If you are currently taking prescribed medication such as diuretics, insulin or anti-coagulants you should not take without medical supervision as it may affect the potency of your drugs. Similarly, if you have already suffered from gallstones or a liver condition such as jaundice or hepatitis then you should take advice before using.

cool pictures

 DANDELION AS A FOOD.

As a food dandelion offers a great nutritional package – Vitamins: A, folate, B6, C, E, and K. Minerals: Magnesium, copper, phosphorus, calcium, iron, potassium and manganese. Dandelion leaves picked from the hedgerow can be used as salad leaves but always remove the woody stems and wash very well. Apart from additional protein in the form of bugs, dogs for some reason love peeing on them! Apart from salads, you can throw into a soup pot with a vegetables and then blend for a lovely creamy soup. Cook like spinach and eat with rich meat dishes. Use raw in sandwiches with egg or avocado. Some hardy souls have ground the dried roots into a substitute coffee, but do not expect to see in Starbucks anytime soon! It does however; make a good tea although I tend to get from the health food shops as they usually have a high quality selection.

As a little word of warning – I suggest that you use the tincture and tea earlier in the day and also the leaves with lunch as there is a good reason that in medieval times it was called piss-in-the-bed!

I hope you will enjoy this new series and next time my November essential Echinacia.

Please leave your feedback and hit a few share buttons.

Thank you – Sally the Witch!

50 thoughts on “New Series – The Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Herbal Medicine -Dandelion

  1. Pingback: New Series – The Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Herbal Medicine -Dandelion | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  2. “witch at the dietary clinic” I loved this line and what a helpful and informative post! Yes herbs can be very strong and are powerful! The info. about dandelion is something I didn’t know! Also love it’s piss in the bed nick name! A fun and useful post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I got into herbal medicine in my teens… primarily to treat my father’s racing pigeons 🙂 I knew about their medicinal properties early on, but could not believe my eyes when, as a raw young woman with no culinary experience, I saw dandelions on sale at French markets. I soon learned they are not only good for you, they make a really nice salad too 🙂

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  4. Speaking to my heart! My Naturopath would LOVE to see this series as we have been enjoying learning and implementing so many traditional methods. After all, they call it “modern medicine” for a reason, right… 🙂

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    • Thanks Annette and delighted that there is interest. We reach out for the pills so rapidly these days and especially antibiotics that can have long term impact on global health as bugs become more resistent. We need to boost our own immune systems who are more that capable of dealing with most pathogens if fed the right food and given additional natural assistance when needed. hugs XX

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      • Preach sister! I have a friend who is a macrobiotic chef, in a relationship with a man who is her polar opposite. She gives him natural remedies and he pretends to take them. (deep sigh) there are so many out there who will come to the acceptance of this when the time is right. Build it and they will come.

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  5. This is a great series, Sally I take several herbals, but never tried Dandelion. Not sure if I coud eat it though-Lol. Is there a supplement? I’m sure there probably is, I’ll check later today when I’m out and about! BTW: Been following your migraine advice. None in a week. Crossing my fingers while eating fruits and drinking lots of water. Walking Doodle dog until his tail leads us home! Bless YOU!

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  6. You’re talking my language here Sal. I wonder who has the biggest chest of herbal cures? I do my best to avoid pharmaceuticals as best as I can. There is a place for them, but only in dire situations for this family. Natural cures worked fine for centuries before modern medicine put a spin on them. Great series! xo 🙂

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  7. Wonderful series idea, Sally. “Witch” is just fine. But I think the “Medicine Woman” is more fun. Besides, it reminds me of that very handsome Sully (was that his name?) on the Dr. Quinn TV show. 😈 😀

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  8. My grandmother used dandelion – she was the local herbalist. Too bad I didn’t learn from her. I learned this weekend that tea tree oil is great for calming and healing the skin issues caused by shingles.
    Great idea for a series!

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    • Certainly if your entire diet comprised sausage, bacon and salami everyday without any vegetables, fruit and fibrous carbohydrates it would not be good for you. However, if you look at the Europeans particularly here in Spain and in Italy they eat a great deal of it.. Along with lots of fresh vegetables fruit and good carbohydrates.. Their processed hams, sausages and bacon are superb and prepared in traditional ways for hundreds if not thousands of years.. it is the industrialised rubbish that is churned out that causes the problems. I think I had better do a post on the subject… thanks Gigi for giving me a push. XXS

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      • I think you have to look at the eskimo peoples too, who survived very healthily on a diet of meat and not much else. I think the key words here are industrialised processed meat products.

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      • I agree and also genetics. When everyone stayed in their little corner of the World such as the Eskimos their bodies evolved differently to accommodate the available food sources. We are now so multi-cultural, that particularly second generation immigrants are developing diseases that were virtually unknown in their own cultures. Japan is a prime example. There was not a word in Japanese for the menopause as they enjoyed a diet rich in natural soya.. but Japanese women who are 2nd or 3rd generation in America certainly are experiencing the symptoms now. I have worked with Chinese children who have been adopted as babies and have found that reverting back to the more traditional diet helps with both health and behavioural issues. The one clear answer is that you need to eat a very high percentage of natural foods in your diet and only a minimum of industrially produced food. You sound as though you have that sussed well and truly.. Look forward to meeting you next year and talking more about it.. hopefully on the plane from Ireland to UK.. hugs

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      • That is so true! I was also going to say about the Japanese, who rarely eat meat or dairy. Their diet is opposite to ours yet they are healthy too. Are you serious about the menopause in China? I’d like to know more about that. Yes, we will definitely talk more about it when you move home! 😊

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      • The menopause link was in reference to Japan..probably similar in China but they too are now enjoying burgers etc in the big cities. Green Tea is another anti-cancer fighting natural product and originally it would have been sipped all day.. Those Japanese who moved to the US do not drink now and they are developing cancers that were rare in their homeland. The western diet has a lot to answer for.. which means the governments and their pandering to the food industry does too.hugs

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  9. Yes, you are right. Here in Australia, they eat their steaks nearly every day. and the barbeque with Sausages and more Sausages. In the shops they have an extra line only for them. I never look at them. Don’t like them. We might eat red meat once or twice a week, in Germany we have eaten more pork, but never bacon as well. Still don’t eat bacon.
    so, I gave you an idea. Great. I am happy about that.
    Have a great day
    Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is fantastic, Sally! My garden is always full of dandelions, I love their cheery yellow flowers even though everyone calls them a weed. I agree with you wholeheartedly about the pharmaceutical industry, and I believe that many sections of the food industry are just the same and potentially marketing dangerous foods to us. I think we would do well to get a bit closer to nature and dare I say it, the old ways of healing. I love that you are called a witch for your herbal skills! That has made me look at you in a cmpletely new light! I’m looking forward to the rest of this series!

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  11. Pingback: Saturday Round Up – | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

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