Use Your Dandelions

Dandelions are rich in minerals, especially potassium, and vitamins including A, B, C and D, but people have largely forgotten them as a food source.  Up until the 1800s Americans pulled up grass from their yards to plant dandelions, while before the First World War dandelion was grown as a commercial crop in Britain.  In Britain the roots were lifted from two-year-old plants to make dandelion coffee.  The roasted and ground roots were sold for two shillings per pound.  However, when food is scarce, people remember and during the Second World War the British radio doctor Charles Hill recommended dandelion leaves as a food.

The leaves can be eaten fresh in salads, boiled like spinach, or made into a tea.  You can pop a dandelion leaf into a sandwich.  Pick the young leaves in early spring for eating (the older ones get bitter), before the plant has flowered.  For a more delicate flavour, you can blanch the plant in a similar way to endives.  Put a flowerpot over the plant during the winter.  

The root can be boiled as a vegetable or added raw to salads.  The root may be roasted and ground as a substitute for coffee.  Gather the roots during the autumn.

The flowers can be eaten raw or used to decorate salads, and taste slightly sweet, or try dipping them in batter and deep frying them.  Macerated Dandelion Flower Oil can be used in salad dressings.  Dandelion Vinegar can be used as a salad dressing.  Dandelion Honey is a vegan alternative to honey.

Dandelions can be added to tonic beers and wines, which aid digestion.

Dandelions are great for the skin as they are rich in antioxidants, and vitamins A, C and E.  They have anti-aging properties, are anti-inflammatory, help prevent free radical damage, reduce fine lines and the appearance of scars, as well as encouraging healthy skin cell production, evening out skin tone, and stimulating circulation.  Furthermore, they can have a protective effect against sun damage and improve skin hydration.  Do you still want to weed out your dandelions?

Macerated Dandelion Flower Oil can aid dry skin and is especially good for the delicate skin around the eyes.  You can also use the oil in the preparation of your homemade skin care products.

Make a dandelion infusion and use as a face wash for the treatment of large pores, age spots, blemishes, sunburn and chapped skin. 

Dandelions are also good for the hair.  Rich in vitamins and minerals, they can stimulate root growth.  Use dandelion infusion as a hair rinse, or dilute Dandelion Vinegar half and half with water as a hair rinse, or massage dandelion tincture into your scalp. 

Every part of the dandelion can be used medicinally, and it has been described as a self-contained pharmacy.  [1] Dandelion is a good all round health tonic, rich in vitamins A, B, C, D, and minerals including potassium and calcium, sesquiterpene lactones, triterpenes, coumarins, caratonoids, taraxacoside and phenolic acids.

The bitter nature of dandelion leaves aids digestion by stimulating the secretion of digestive fluids and promoting the appetite. 

Dandelion root is a powerful detoxifying herb, encouraging the elimination of toxins due to infection and pollution, including hangovers, by working on the liver and gall bladder to remove waste products, plus stimulating the kidneys to remove toxins in urine.  This is useful in many conditions including constipation, acne, eczema, psoriasis, boils, arthritic conditions including gout.  It is a safe liver herb and stimulates bile production, and is used in the treatment of jaundice, hepatitis, gallstones and urinary tract infections. 

Dandelions are diuretic and can be used to treat swollen ankles and fluid retention, but without the consequent loss of potassium of orthodox drugs.  Use dandelion tea.

For rheumatism and arthritis take Dandelion Leaf Tea or Dandelion Coffee to help the joints and the removal of acid deposits.  Macerated Dandelion Flower Oil can ease muscle tension and stiff joints when rubbed into the affected parts. 

Macerated Dandelion Flower Oil applied to the skin helps reduce inflammation and irritation, and may help soothe eczema, psoriasis, acne and skin rashes.

In folk medicine the white latex sap within the flower stem has been used to treat warts and pimples, simply by breaking the stem and dabbing it on the affected area.   

A few dandelion flowers can be eaten raw and may cure a headache.  [2]


Dandelion is considered safe in food amounts and safe for most people in medicinal quantities.  However, medicinal amounts are best avoided during pregnancy or breastfeeding to be on the safe side.  If you are allergic to ragweed, daisies, chrysanthemums or marigolds, you should avoid using dandelion or use with caution.  Some people find that they have a reaction to the white latex found in dandelion stems.  Dandelion may decrease the efficacy of some antibiotics, so check with your healthcare provider.  Do not take if you are on lithium or taking other diuretics.  Dandelion root should not be used by individuals with gallstones, gallbladder complaints, obstructed bile ducts, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gastritis, or ulcers.  Dandelions slightly lower blood sugar, so diabetics should carefully monitor levels.  Do not use medicinal amounts if you are already taking prescription diuretics. 

[1] Julie Bruton-Seal & Matthew Seal, Hedgerow Medicine, Merlin Unwin Books, Ludlow, 2008

[2] Julie Bruton-Seal & Matthew Seal, Hedgerow Medicine, Merlin Unwin Books, Ludlow, 2008


Author: annafranklinblog

Anna Franklin is the High Priestess of the Hearth of Arianrhod, which runs teaching circles, a working coven, and the annual Mercian Gathering, a Pagan camp which raises money for charity. She regularly speaks at conferences, moots and workshops around the country. She is the author of many books on witchcraft and Paganism, including the popular Pagan Ways Tarot, Sacred Circle Tarot, The Fairy Ring, Herb Craft, Magical Incenses and Oils, Personal Power, A Romantic Guide to Handfasting, Familiars, The Oracle of the Goddess, Hearth Witch, The Path of the Shaman and The Hearth Witch’s Compendium. Anna’s books have been translated into nine languages.

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