Dandelion Detox

This common flower is a favourite in western folk medicine and once we understand how beneficial it can be I don’t think we will ever look at it in the same light again. Creeping up through cracks in the pavement and popping up where we least want it, the unassuming Dandelion has enormous healing powers.

Dandelion’s (Taraxacum officinale) main uses in herbal medicine are:

• cleansing the liver

• purifying the purifier

• a diuretic

• improving digestion

• promoting lymphatic activity

The Chinese use Dandelion is for clearing heat from the body. Heat that is deep within the body and Chinese herbalists believe that it cleanses the sinuses. An indication that this is required may not be as obvious as a blocked nose but if white spots are visible on the tongue, or there is a film over the tongue, this can indicate that fluids in the body are clogged by mucus. This congestion can move into the bones casing aching.

These symptoms all link back to the liver, the main area of the body supported by Dandelion as the liver is responsible for detoxification and elimination from the body. The liver and kidney work together; the liver breaks down larger molecules so the kidney can eliminate them.

Due to its bitterness, Dandelion is a diuretic, which increases bile production, which in turn increases digestive activity, which has, clear remedial effects in liver disease by increasing the flow of bile through the liver and cleansing it. Thus increasing urine flow too, so it is important to drink plenty of water when taking Dandelion.

The beauty of using herbal medicine is that we benefit from all the healing properties the plant offers us. Most diuretics cause potassium loss in the body, but Dandelion has the added benefit of containing more potassium (three times as much as most other green plants) so it actually replenishes potassium rather than depletes it. The leaves are the best part of the plant for this action.

Due to its liver cleansing properties Dandelion, especially when combined with celery seed can have very beneficial effects for arthritis, gout or rheumatic conditions too.

If you have ever tried to dig up a Dandelion you will know that their roots run very deep and as they feed the plant they are bringing up calcium from the deeper soil and this could explain how it helps re-calcify the bones and teeth.

Emotions can be related to illness too, and anger, nervous tension and sluggish feelings are associated with the liver and these can manifest themselves when the liver is not functioning properly.

Parts to use:

Roots and Leaves

Harvesting:

Roots – collect from 2 year old plants or older. The older the better. Collect in early spring when they are filled the maximum amount of sap, although they taste sweeter in Autumn due to higher inulin content.

Leaves – pick young in the Spring/early Summer

Preparation:

Roots- wash and cut into long pieces (not too small as sap drys out). Dry by gently heat, or leave on a wire rack in the airing cupboard.

Leaves – Dry by hanging in a dark airy room or use fresh in salad, cooking or smoothie.

Properties:

Citric Acid, Vitamin B, Vitamin A, potassium, Inulin (sugar complex safe for diabetics), tannins, glycosides and hormone like substances.

Dosage:

I believe that with herbs it is better for our bodies and to aid absorption by taking less but more regularly throughout the day.

TEA: As a remedy at least 3 cups of tea are needed a day, or a couple of cups of tea plus a handful of leaves in a smoothie or salad. To make tea use 30g of dried or 60g of fresh root or leaves to 1 litre of boiling water. Always cover while cooling to avoid loss of essential oils.

TINCTURE: 5-15 drops 4-5 times a day. (see our How to Make a Tincture blog if you would like to make your own).

Be patient, as with all herbal treatments this can be a slow process but remember that you are actually curing and supporting the body using plants, not just masking the problem as with many conventional medicines.

Before taking any herbs medicinally you should always seek advise from your doctor first.

Refs:

The Book of Herbal Wisdom by Matthew Wood

Holistic Herbal by David Hoffmann

The Herbal Drugstore by Linda White / Steven Foster

The Wisdom of Nature

I wanted to share with you a thought process that goes back centuries and since first learning about this folklore, I now look at nature with fresh eyes.

Since with 1600’s philosophers have believed that plants are created with signs that guide us to understand what the plant’s purpose and intended use is. There were illusions to this theory in the writings of Galen in AD131 – 200 but it was not until a chap called Jacob Boehme wrote a book called ‘The Signature of All Things’ in the first half of the seventeenth century that this idea took hold. Boehme was banished from his home town for this belief and was told he could not come back unless he promised not to write anymore books – he could not make this promise, so he left!

Paracelsus, a Swiss doctor and mystic of the early 1600’s, was one of the first to take this idea seriously and worked out an entire system of knowledge, based on nature as a living, intelligent being. He named this knowledge ‘The Wisdom of Nature’. He described a different way of perceiving the world, based on the intelligence of Mother Nature and believed those who live close to nature can learn this knowledge through their experiences.

Can the patterns in nature correspond to patterns in people? These signals don’t take the form of carton like images popping up all over the country side, but they are there and sometimes they are very obvious, once you start looking. For instance, look at a Hawthorne berry – red and round. What type of person, or part of the body might that be useful for? Traditional herbalists will use the Hawthorne Berry to regulate the function of the heart, and this little berry does resemble that organ. The sort of people that have trouble with their heart are quite often a little flushed and perhaps a little overweight… red and round like this magic little berry. Another heart healer is the Pepper – like the Hawthorne Berry, it is not only red but inside it is divided into four, as is heart.

It is not just how the plant looks that we can pick up clues from, but also it’s habitat. As an example, plants which grow in sunny locations are often them selves drying and uplifting, like the sun – Rosemary or Calendula are prime examples. In contrast, Angelica, grows in damp and shady places and has warming properties which remove damp and is used traditionally to treat damp, cold conditions such rheumatism.

Hidden within nature is a vital life force, some like to think of this as a substance, rather than an energy as it is easier to think of it as something tangible. Careful and imaginative observation of a plant’s habitat, season of flower, smell, colour, texture, shape and even taste can all help us understand and learn what the plant’s energy is intended for.

So, next time you are walking in the woods, or even down the street, take notice of the plants and flowers that force their way up through the pavement, or creep along the forest floor. What does the texture of their leaves reveal to you, how do the colour of the petals make you feel and what is it about where they are growing that could direct you to it’s use? You will need to use your imagination, but I don’t think it will be long before you start making connections.

Whether we believe that these patterns are created by God, Mother Nature, or all just strange coincidences, and although it may not be possible to scientifically prove this kind of thinking, does that mean it should be ignored?

Answers to ‘The Wisdom of Nature Quiz’ are:

Elderflower: Respiration.
Don’t the shapes of the stems and tiny flowers remind you of the bronchioles and little air sacks in the lungs? Traditionally their anti-catarrh and relaxing effect is used to soothe the lungs and combined with their anti-inflamamtory properties they are used by Herbalists for asthmatic conditions too.

Hawthorne Berries: Heart.
As mentioned above the little round red berries resemble the heart, they are even split into four internal sections just like the heart. They are full of flavonoids which are very effective for repairing the walls of small blood vessels. The flowers and berries are used by Herbalists as they open up the small arteries of the body, which increases blood supply and oxygen to the tissues, which in turn lowers blood pressure.

Calendula / Marigold: Depression caused by nervous anxiety.
Who could not look at this beautiful, orange flower and not feel just a little uplifted? Used by Herbalists for many skin ailments, it also has a relaxing effect on the nervous system which is known to help treat depression caused by nervous anxiety.

ALWAYS SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE FROM A QUALIFIED HERBALIST BEFORE USING ANY PLANTS AS MEDICINES.

References:

The Book of Herbal Wisdom by Matthew Wood

The Botanic Medicine Society, Ontario, Canada

Save

Save

Berry Picking for Herbal Medicine

Although we are still in August, there is the beginnings of a chill in the early morning air that is a gentle reminder that Autumn is on its way. This makes the clear, warm mornings even more precious, knowing they will soon be few and far between. Whilst on my downland walks over the last few weeks, I have noticed the berries slowly ripening and my walk this morning was the first foraging session of the season.
There is nothing more delightful that picking berries early on a sun filled morning… one for the bag and one for breakfast! Why is it they taste so much sweeter straight from the bush, its rather like fish and chips eaten out of paper. The same food eaten off a plate at the dining table just does not have the same flavour does it?
This mornings harvest comprised blackberries, sloes, elderberries hawthorn and rosehips. Their colours reflect the deep reds and purples that encompass the early Autumn tones.

 

Tonights dessert will be vanilla ice cream with blackberry sauce and what is left (if there is any!) will be frozen. The berries don’t just taste good, they have many health benefits too – blackberries are used by herbalists for sore throats, so having them ready in the freezer means I am ready to make a sore throat gargle, just in case the children get a throat infection over the winter.
Sloes will be used to make Sloe Gin, and the best thing about this is that sloes are wonderful blood cleansers and in turn are a remedy for arthritis and gout. Turn your gin into medicine and know that whilst you are sipping your slow g and t you are also detoxing your body. Isn’t nature great?
The elderberries, hawthorn and rosehips will make an immune boosting winter syrup. Elderberries have anti-inflammatory properties and are the perfect winter cold and flu remedy as they help the body flush out toxins and are anti viral as they strengthen cell membranes making them less penetrable to attack.

 

Hawthorn stimulates blood flow to all the tissues and arteries and encourages a good circulation and Rosehips boost the immune system with a very high vitamin C content. They also contain vitamin A and have astringent and anti-inflammatory qualities, which make them wonderful to use in skin care.

Please remember if you do go on a little forage in the hedgerows, just pick a little and leave a lot for nature. Never pick more than a third of the flowers or fruit and never, ever leave the plant with no fruit or flowers. Be sure to forage well away from farmers fields or near the road, where there may be pesticides and chemicals.

Save

Save