Dandelions are one of the oldest medicinal herbs. They can be found growing in grassy areas throughout most of the world and are well recognised, having multiple bright yellow petals – the flower head suspended on a smooth green-brown stem, and with tall leaves with serrated edges.
The leaves, root, and juice extracted from the fresh plant, are used medicinally, as a diuretic, tonic, digestive aid and treatment for liver and kidney disorders. Because of the supportive effects on the metabolic functions of the liver and its liver-draining effects, dandelion root helps to clear toxins from the body, and is therefore also helpful in treating chronic rheumatic or arthritic conditions. Research has shown dandelion also has anti-inflammatory properties, as well as anti-tumour activity in animals.
The root is used as a coffee substitute or flavour additive when roasted, the leaves are often eaten fresh in salad or dried to make tea, and the flowers used in winemaking.
Dandelions contain sesquiterpene lactones, triterpenes, phenolic acids, potassium and miscellaneous proteins, sugars and pectin. The vitamin A content of the dandelion is higher than that found in carrots.