Thursday, 19 April 2012

Dandelions are taking over the world!!!

The combination of sunshine and showers has launched the Dandelion into a bid for world domination.

Their smiling faces are brightening up grass verges and roundabouts through out South Leicestershire. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is very fond of people, congregating in lawns and veg plots trying to get noticed.

It’s their indestructible nature that appeals, it shows strength of character. This feisty little plant is known as a weed, (which is just another name for a plant in the wrong place) but I think it should be celebrated and re-named ‘a good do-er’. This was a term my Grandad gave to his favorite Dahlias but surely they share the same qualities, endless cheerful flowers a striking leaf shape and beautifully delicate seed heads.   

The Dandelion has even more to offer though, it is a healing plant with an astonishing list of medicinal qualities. Dandelion is a nutritious spring green high in vitamins and minerals especially potassium. It is a bitter tasting plant which means it is good for your digestion, activating digestive juices and promoting a healthy appetite. Herbalists use both the leaf and the root as medicine and can be used either separately or together. When combined with Nettle, Burdock and Cleavers (Sticky weed) you have a fantastic spring tonic.

The root is mainly used to treat the liver and gently helps a sluggish digestion, skin problems, hormonal imbalances and headaches to name just a few. The leaves are beneficial to the kidneys with their diuretic qualities reducing excess fluid, therefore helping to reduce high blood pressure. It can help swollen ankles, eczema, acne, arthritis and also strengthens the urinary system, the list is endless. So rather than reach for the herbicide or the flame thrower why not make use of these helpful herbs.

As always, if you feel the need to forage for Dandelions or other friendly hedgerow goodies please make sure you identify the plants carefully. Always check in a plant identification book before you harvest your herbs to make sure you are munching on the right plant.
Oh, and it’s also good manners to ask the plant first if you can take a few leaves or flowers, a thank you is good too!

Herbal Spring Clean Vinegar

This herbal vinegar includes:
Dandelion (obviously) 
Cleavers or Sticky weed (Galium aparine)
Nettle (Urtica diocia)
Apple Cider Vinegar
You will need a 1 liter or ½ liter Kilner jar, or a glass jar with a lid that clips down. A jar with a plastic lid will be OK, but no metal lids, as the vinegar corrodes metal!

This medicinal vinegar is a fantastic spring tonic. It is cleansing due to its action on the digestion and nourishing because it is bursting with vitamins and minerals. Nettle is also a great nutritious and cleansing herb and Cleavers is especially good for the lymphatic system enhancing the removal of toxins and the cleansing process.

Once you have identified your herbs and gathered them from a herbicide and dog free area you are ready to go.

Wash and chop your herbs, you might want to wear some gloves as Nettle might fight back!

 Fill the glass jar or container with the chopped herb and pour on the apple cider vinegar, give it a poke and leave in a cool dark place for 2-3 weeks. When the time comes strain off the herbs, bottle your herbal vinegar in sterilized bottles (with plastic lids remember) and label.
You can take 5mls (1 teaspoon) of the vinegar in a glass of water as a ‘spring clean’ tonic to promote a healthy digestion and a clear skin. You can use it in salad dressing and even a hair rinse for strong, shiny hair.

Read more about Dandelion and other healing plants on my website: 

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