Species name: Taraxacum mongolicum, Taraxacum officinale
Also Known As: Dandelion coffee, blowball, cankerwort, dent de lion, lion’s tooth, priest’s crown, pu gong ying, puffball, swine snout, white endive, and wild endive
Native to Eurasia and North America, the plant is now found worldwide and is generally classified as a weed.
The common name dandelion means lion’s tooth and both species are considered to be entirely edible. This means flowers, leaves, and roots can be eaten.
The Dandelion plant has tiny flowers collected together into a composite flower head. Dandelion leaves should either be harvested in the spring before the flowers appear, or in the late fall after a frost, and the bitterness disappears.
Young plants with broad leaves, growing in rich, moist soil are the best plants to use for tea.
Dandelion tea is often called Dandelion coffee. Historically it was used as a cheap alternative to coffee. Made from the root of the dandelion plant, it is roasted and ground, resembling coffee in appearance and taste.
Generally plants that are 3-4 years old, with taproots about half an inch in diameter, are harvested. The taproots look like pale carrots.
What is Dandelion Tea? Dandelion tea is made from the leaves, flowers or roots of the dandelion plant. Often the dandelion roots have been slightly roasted and ground ready to use. It is often sold as dandelion coffee.
Dandelion Tea Preparation:
Whether made from the root or leaves of the Dandelion plant, the tea should be steeped for three to five minutes. ◦Use one or two teaspoons for each cup of hot water. ◦Place the root pieces in a tea ball or add directly to boiled hot water. ◦Steep for five to ten minutes.
◦Store unused dried roots in an air-tight container in the refrigerator or freezer to maintain freshness.
Benefits of Dandelion Tea:
Historically, Dandelion tea was used by Chinese medicinal practitioners in the treatment of digestive disorders, appendicitis, and breast problems including increasing milk flow or treating breast inflammation.
Native Americans have used Dandelion tea to treat menstrual cramps, indigestion, and as an energy tonic.
Today Dandelion tea is often used in liver detoxification, as a natural diuretic, and to increase appetite. It is used in the treatment of colon cancer, diabetes, eczema, and gastrointestinal disorders.
Dandelion tea is still recommended in stimulating milk production for women who are breast feeding. It may also help in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
Topically unsweetened, cooled dandelion tea may be applied as a skin wash on minor scars and inflammations.
There have been many studies done on the benefits of dandelion. One such study concludes, “Extracts of dandelion have been shown to have antimicrobial and bactericidal effects in vitro.
Dandelion’s antitumor activities are thought to be similar to that of tumor polysaccharides such as lentinan. Dandelion has been shown to decrease human hepatoma cell line viability by increasing tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-1alpha production”.
Side Effects of Dandelion Tea:
Side effects of Dandelion Tea are rare and usually mild, but allergic reactions may occur if you are allergic to ragweed or other members of the aster family. These effects may include heartburn, stomach inflammation, mild diarrhea, hypoglycemia, and red itchy bumps.
If you are taking antibiotics, Dandelion Tea may decrease the effectiveness of some antibiotics. It may work like a water pill or “diuretic” and may decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium. This could increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects.
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Dandelion might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications.
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