By Patricia Bratianu RN PhD RH-AHG
We all want to live a long healthy life. Some of the most concentrated sources of phytochemicals that promote health and longevity are contained in dandelions.
If you choose to harvest wild dandelions for health, be sure that you identify them carefully and pick only from pristine environments. Only pick what you will use. Reseed if possible. Harvest in ways that will not kill the plant. If harvesting roots, cut off part of a root and replace the plant.
Detoxify with Dandelions
The leaves and roots of dandelions promote healthy aging. Dandelions  are especially important to consume if you take pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals are broken down by the liver and kidneys. As a result, these organs may become stressed. Dandelion roots support liver health while the leaves enhance kidney function the health of the kidneys.
Even if you do not take pharmaceutical medications, with each passing year you are exposed to the cumulative effects of pollution as well as toxins that the human body produces. Many of the effects of aging are directly related to a lifetime of exposure to harmful substances. Dandelions are among the best detoxifiers on the planet. They are an excellent plant to employ as they are so numerous.
Dandelions Enhance Kidney Health
The leaves of dandelions possess potent diuretic actions. Blood pressure may be reduced if the leaves, also known as greens, are consumed. In addition, dandelion leaves are a fantastic source of potassium. Unlike pharmaceutical diuretics which generally result in potassium loss; dandelions contain natural potassium.
Dandelions Improve Digestive Health
If you suffer from digestive distress and go to a mainstream health care provider, he or she may tell you that you need an antacid due to too much stomach acid. In fact, the opposite is often true. As we age, the body produces less hydrochloric, stomach acid. You can check this out for yourself. The next time you have stomach distress, take a couple of teaspoonfuls of apple cider vinegar. Dilute it in water if the taste is too strong. See if you get relief from your indigestion. If you do, it may be that you have too little stomach acid.
Dandelion root works as a digestive tonic, stimulating the flow of stomach acid. The result is improved function of the entire gastrointestinal tract. Your body will breakdown and absorb nutrients better. Elimination will be enhanced, as well. Dandelion root is an excellent herb to employ as a gentle bowel stimulant if you tend to get constipated.
Dandelion Greens are Rich Sources of Vitamins and Minerals
Unlike commercial vitamins, which may cause stomach upset, the vitamins and minerals in dandelions are easily absorbed. Dandelion greens are a great source of calcium, hence great for preventing osteoporosis. They contain iron which prevents anemia, in addition to a broad range of other nutrients.
Preparation of Dandelions
While dandelion greens may be harvested at any time, they are best picked while young. Include them in salads or use them as a substitute for spinach in any recipe. If you steam or boil the greens, use the remaining water in soups, sauces and smoothies so that you don’t waste the healing nutrients. You may pick the leaves and dry them on a screen or in a dehydrator for future use.
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Roots may be gathered at any time. Spring or fall is best. Wash them off and dry them on a screen. I prefer to keep roots in large pieces for storage. When thoroughly dry, store roots or leaves in a glass jar in a cool dark place.
Use one tablespoonful of fresh leaves or roots to make one cup of tea. If using dried herbs, use one teaspoonful per cup. Drink one to three cups daily. Do not drink dandelion tea in the evening or you may need to get up at night to urinate.
Dandelion Extracts are Convenient
If you prefer to make an extract, you may use vinegar or vodka. I prefer to use apple cider vinegar for dandelion extracts. Dandelion is a terrific tonic for long-term use. Simply cover the leaves, roots or a combination of both in a sterilized jar. Add vinegar, which has been heated to just below a simmer. Cover the herbs by one inch of liquid. Make sure that you release any trapped air bubbles by running a knife through the blend. Place a tight-fitting lid on the jar. Shake the jar daily for two weeks. After two weeks or more, strain out the herbs with a piece of cheesecloth. Be sure to squeeze every bit of liquid from the herbs while you are straining them. Compost the herbs. Label your extract. Take one teaspoon before meals three times daily for general wellness.
Grow Your Own Dandelions
Unless you live in a very cold climate, you may be able to harvest dandelion leaves year round. They will not be as mild flavored as spring greens; however they will still be nutritious. Dandelion greens grow very well in a cold frame during the winter.
You may also purchase organic dandelion seeds and grow them in a pot. (Be prepared to get funny looks when you purchase the seeds.) I have never tried planting wild seeds, but I suspect that they would do very well, too.
Dandelions = Longevity
Dandelions promote health by enhancing detoxification processes; supporting healthy blood pressure; promoting efficient digestion and elimination; and providing nutrients that strengthen the entire body.
As anyone who has tried to eradicate dandelions from their lawn will tell you, dandelions are tenacious, and seem to have nine lives. Dandelions could be the poster child for longevity. You may as well reap some of that robust nature and enjoy a healthy long life, too, by including dandelions in your daily life.
What else do you use dandelions for? Let us know in the comments section below.
This article first appeared at Off The Grid News: 5 Amazing Health-Boosting Uses For Dandelions