We have all been there! The pure joy of a child in springtime, dancing and spinning in the new green grass until they are dizzy with giggles and laughs. Soon, they fall to the ground and find none other than, a yellow head dandelion staring back. Pure bliss! It is spring! The green things awaken from forest and field.
Let yourself wander to the closest dandelion. Is this just a weed or medicine to heal mankind? True, the leaf that looks like lion teeth is bitter. However, the bitter leaf aids digestion and creates more enzymes in the saliva to break down food and vital nutrients in every chomping bite.
The soft flower possesses soothing and anti-bacterial properties. Picking fresh blossoms and infusing them in oil makes a wonderful soother for eczema, bug bites, sunburn, and poison ivy. The white sap is a first aid remedy in the field. The old timers would use the white sap to remove warts. Infusing the whole, fresh plant in vinegar for up to three weeks is a common Ozark method of saving the green energy for another day. The infused vinegar is full of vitamin C, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, and beta-carotene. The vinegar can then be used in dressings or for a wonderful hair rinse. The leaf is a first choice diuretic for most herbal practitioners. It is a gentle herb that gets the job done. This leaf is dried and saved to make tea that repairs and supports the kidneys along with the whole urinary system. The old folks once knew to drink two cups of dandelion tea to ease swollen legs and ankles. At the very least, it makes a pretty show in a fresh wild green salad. The bitterness is taken away with a homemade dressing of olive oil, vinegar, or with a squirt of maple syrup.
The dandelion root is toasted and ground with chicory root and coffee bean for a wonderful flavor addition. This mix not only tastes great, but it also lowers the acidity in coffee. The strong, powerful taproot makes its way around the rocks and clay of Missouri soil. All the while, it pulls vital nutrients from deep within, making them available to humans and animals. In fact, the liver sings when the dandelion root is introduced into the diet. I hope to always have an abundance of this perennial food and medicine source in the garden. In my old age, I hope to sip dandelion wine while I watch my grandchildren giggle and laugh in my dandelion garden.