It’s getting close to spring in many parts of the US. People are looking forward to gardening, working in their yards, or just being outside enjoying the fresh air. Spring is also the time of year you will see the bright yellow flower of the dandelion(Taraxacum officinale). Traditionally people try – without much success, to eradicate this powerfully medicinal plant. I can remember as a kid being shown by my Father how to dig out and remove dandelion from his beautiful lawn. He even had a special tool to dig down and extract the long tap root!. I was taught it was a weed that had no purpose but to invade and destroy his perfectly manicured lawn. Little did I know at the time I would actually be looking for and using Dandelion in my later life.
Dandelion has been used for years in folk medicine. It was brought to America by early settlers not only as a food crop, but also in part for medicinal uses. A prolific reproducer, dandelion soon naturalized across America. Not only in lawns and fields, but in sidewalk cracks and vacant lots in urban areas. The French called it dent-de-lion which translates to “lions tooth”, referring to it’s toothed leaves.
All parts of the dandelion can be used, flowers, leaves and root. Dandelion is very rich in protein, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, niacin, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium and vitamins A, B, C, D, G and E which make it a great addition to your dog’s diet.
- Known as a bitter herb or “bitters”, dandelion is often used to aid and improve digestion
- Has diuretic properties helping to eliminate excess fluids in the body
- Often used as a liver tonic, the dandelion root stimulates bile production and circulation throughout the liver
- Great for detox helping to remove toxins from the body
How To Harvest And Storage
Make sure when you are harvesting dandelion not to choose plants that are in an area sprayed with herbicides and other chemicals. Also after harvesting make sure to clean the leaves well with cool water to remove any dirt,bugs, or residue. Since dandelion grows just about anywhere, finding plants in a more natural setting, free from chemicals is not that difficult. You can harvest the whole plant buy using a shovel to dig down deep to remove the entire thick tap root, or you can just harvest some of the leaves, leaving the plant intact for future harvesting. I find my dogs prefer the leaves dried. If you want to dry your dandelion you can use a dehydrator if you have one, or simply place the leaves or the entire plant in a paper bag such as a lunch bag. Poke a few small holes in it to allow for circulation, tie the top shut with a rubber band, and place in a warm dark place. You can also use an old window screen. Lay out your leaves or entire plant on the window screen making sure none of the leaves are touching one another, place them in a dry place with little light exposure, flip the material every few days. Most herbs with the right drying conditions should be done in a week. Once your leaves are dry place in an airtight container for storage and keep out of direct sunlight. I usually keep mine in a kitchen cupboard I use specifically for herbs.
How Much To Use
Plan on feeding 1 teaspoon of dried dandelion per 20 pounds of the dogs weight. If your dog is sensitive to diet change start out with a smaller amount and work your way up. Just sprinkle on your dog’s food or if your dog is like my Kippah she prefers her herbs to be made into a tea. I use 1-2 teaspoons per cup of water. Place the measured dried herb in a mug, pot or heat proof container, bring the water to a rolling boil, pour water over the dried herb and allow to steep until cool. Drain the liquid through a cheesecloth or coffee filter discarding(I compost) the herb material. When it’s completely cool add 1/2-1 cup to the dog’s food.
So the next time you see a dandelion in your yard, remember the powerful health benefits and enjoy those beautiful yellow flowers!