This is the very best time of year to pick dandelion flowers, when they are in full bloom, and today I have been making dandelion oil. This is really simple – pick your dandelion flowers in full sun, and choose only the best specimens from a place you know is free of pesticides and chemical residues. Pack them in a sterile glass jar and top up with vegetable oil, making sure the oil completely covers the flowers. Leave this on a sunny windowsill for two weeks, shaking daily. Strain and bottle your dandelion on in a sterilised glass bottle.
Dandelion flower oil can also be used as a fabulous anti-oxidant rich moisturizer for the body and face. It can be used as it is, or to make salves and creams for wrinkles, age spots, dry skin, sunburn and chapped skin. Rich in vitamins and minerals, the oil makes a great treatment for your hair, and may even help combat dandruff. Simple warm the oil slightly, apply it to scalp, massaging with small circular motions, and comb through the length. Wrap your head in a towel to keep the warmth in, and leave for at least two hours. Shampoo as normal.
You can also use the oil in body massage, as it helps relieve tension and relax muscles, and is good for stiff and tired muscles. It may be of benefit for arthritis and gout as it contains anti-inflammatory properties too.
Every part of the much maligned dandelion can be used medicinally, though the root is most often used in a decoction or tincture. Dandelion is a good all round health tonic, rich in vitamins and minerals. Dandelion root is a powerful detoxifying herb, working on the liver and gall bladder to remove waste products, stimulate the kidneys to remove toxins in urine and encouraging the elimination of toxins due to infection and pollution, including hangovers. I used dandelion tea to help me recover from jaundice last year. It is useful for constipation, acne, eczema, psoriasis, nettle rash, boils, and arthritic conditions including osteoarthritis and gout.
Dandelion leaf is a powerful diuretic which can be used without the consequent loss of potassium of orthodox drugs. It stimulates the kidneys and can be used for water retention and is helpful in treating urinary tract infections. The leaves can be eaten fresh in a salad or taken as an infusion. For rheumatism and arthritis take an infusion of the leaves to help the joints and eventually remove acid deposits. The roots and leaves may help to prevent gallstones and the leaf is reputed to help dissolve already formed gallstones.
The root is roasted and ground as a substitute for coffee. Young dandelion leaves can be used in salads or cooked. Pick the leaves in early spring for eating, the older leaves in summer for teas, and for medicinal purposes at any time. Gather the roots during the spring or autumn for dandelion coffee, and in summer for medicinal purposes.
The dandelion is very much associated with solar energies, and it closes its petals to protect itself from the fierce noonday sun. Its golden colour and nourishing vitamin and mineral content make it a plant of bright energy and vitality. It can be added to sun incenses to increase their power. Dandelion leaf tea may be taken to enhance psychic powers and the flowers may be added to divination incenses.
The white, downy seeds also associate the dandelion with lunar energies, supplying the balancing spirit. Collect these seeds under the light of the full moon and use them in incenses and talismans.
The traditional time to make dandelion wine is St. George’s Day, April 23. St. George may well be the Christian incarnation of a much earlier vegetation deity who overcame the dragon of winter and ushered in the summer.
6 pints flower heads
3 lb. sugar
1 lb. raisins
1 cup of black tea
1 gallon water
Yeast and nutrient
Gather the flowers when you are ready to use them fresh. Boil the water and pour over the flowers, stand for 2 days, stirring daily. Boil with the sugar and citrus fruit rinds for 60 minutes. Put it back in the bin and add the citrus fruit juice. Cool to lukewarm, add the tea, yeast and nutrient. Cover the bin and leave in a warm place for 3 days, stirring daily. Strain into a demijohn and add the raisins. Fit an airlock. The flavour of this wine is much improved with keeping, and it should not be drunk for at least a year (I like to keep mine for three years).
Caution: Dandelion is considered safe for most people. However, medicinal amounts are best avoided during pregnancy or breastfeeding to be on the safe side. Dandelion may decrease the efficacy of some antibiotics, so check with your healthcare provider. Do not take medicinal amounts internally if you are on lithium or taking other diuretics.