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Did you know there are tons of amazing and medicinal actions dandelions can perform for both your health and the earth? Just to confirm, yes you read that correctly: We are absolutely talking about those yellow flower bearing “weeds” that seem to grow just about anywhere and everywhere.
To many people, these highly prolific plants, are often thought of as a nuisance or an eyesore amongst a garden or well-kept lawn. However, if more people knew about some of the incredible actions dandelions can perform, they would likely be welcomed in any garden, lawn, or pathway.
Dandelion’s Benefits to Biodiversity and Soils
Dandelions play a very important role in the livelihood of many ecosystems, as they are one of the first blooming plants in springtime. This makes dandelion an essential food for bees and other pollinating insects in the early spring months, when most varieties of flowers have not yet bloomed. Getting some fuel from dandelions, bees and other insects then go on to do the important job of pollinating numerous plants and crops. In fact, the Urban Pollinators Project housed at the University of Bristol, found that dandelions are the most visited urban plant by important pollinators out of all plants growing in urban settings.
Not only do dandelions help support the pollinator populations, they are also extremely helpful in facilitating healthy soils. One of the ways they do so is by restoring soil mineral content. This in turn produces more nutrient dense fruits, vegetables, and other crops. This is especially important in areas where soil has been degraded of essential minerals from industrial farming practices.
Dandelions have also been found to help create drainage pathways in compact soils. This can prevent the stagnation of ground water and potential puddling in a garden or flooding in an ecosystem. Because of this, dandelions can be highly beneficial to your garden, especially if you’re growing root vegetables (beets, carrots, potatoes, etc.) in dense soil.
Health Benefits of Dandelion
Inflammation. Incorporating Dandelions into your day-to-day can be very beneficial for your health as the functions they can perform when ingested are vast and varying. For starters, this yellow “super plant” is very anti-inflammatory which is extremely important for overall vitality. A 2006 Harvard Health study has stated that chronic inflammation can be thought of as the common factor in causing most illnesses.
Digestion. Dandelions have been seen to help with a variety of digestive disorders, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, heartburn, and constipation. When taken prior to a meal, they can increase your body’s natural production of hydrochloric acid, which in turn aids with protein digestion.
Kidney support. Dandelions are also considered a “diuretic” and support the kidneys in reducing water retention. Believe it or not, dandelions can also help with detoxification and support the liver with the numerous actions it performs to rid our bodies of toxins.
Skin. Just in case you aren’t convinced of dandelions super powers; you should know that even its stem can be useful! Dandelion stems are filled with a substance that can be used topically on unwanted skin conditions such as warts.
So now that you know some of the many ways dandelions are incredibly helpful for both human health and the earth, the next time you see one you might choose to marvel at it, honor it for its amazingness, or pick it to use it. Stay tuned for Part 2 to learn how to incorporate dandelions into your diet in a variety of unique ways such as, your salads, stirfrys, teas, and even baked goods!
Meghan De Jong is the founder of Meg De Jong Nutrition, her personal nutrition platform, which offers tons of seasonal recipes, food growing tips, and nutrition education. She works with clients one on one to provide “garden-to-kitchen” nutrition support, and is the author of e-book entitled Eat to Nourish. She currently is creating a 4-part guide to seasonal eating. Check out the spring edition, then connect with Meg on Facebook and Instagram.