Friday, February 26, 2010

Traditional Spring Tonic

With spring approaching, I wanted to mention one herb traditionally used as a spring tonic, the common dandelion.

This plant is considered by most gardeners as a troublesome weed to be eradicated at all costs. But dandelion plants have been used medicinally for at least 1000 years.

The roots and the leaves have been used medicinally, with slightly different effects.

Dandelion leaves are a good source of potassium, and also have a strong diuretic effect. (Many pharmaceutical diuretics deplete the bodies potassium.)

The root of the dandelion has a slight diuretic effect, but it is generally considered to be tonic to the liver. (That means it strengthens the liver function, or makes the liver work better.) Dandelion root has traditionally been used to treat hepatitis, there is some contemporary research that supports this use of the root. (If you think you have hepatitis, please consult a doctor, don't try to treat yourself.)

Dandelion stimulates the liver to make more bile (a secretion from the liver which helps the body digest fats, generally stored in the gall bladder) and increases the flow of bile from the gall bladder into the digestive tract. By stimulating both the production and release of bile, dandelion helps improve digestion. Bile also has a laxative effect, and helps move the bowels.

Dandelion also has a reputation as a blood purifier, and may lower cholesterol.

With spring approaching, this is a good time to try some dandelion, you can try it as a tea, or use the leaves as a vegetable or salad green.

The material presented in this blog is for informational use only and should in no way be used as a substitute for needed medical treatment. I am not a doctor, I do not diagnose or treat disease. If you need medical care, please consult the appropriate medical professional. And please discuss with your doctor if you are taking or planning to take any herbal preparations.

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