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Dandelion, Friend or Foe

Dandelions, Friend or Foe

Most of us, myself included, have cursed those yellow flowers that seem to pop up everywhere in the spring.  The dreaded dandelion.  It looks like it doesn’t matter what we do, spraying, pulling at the roots, suffocating, burning, they always find a way to come back.  Even in places where we never thought anything would grow, especially grass, they grow back. 

There is always that one neighbour that has the perfect lawn.  Not one weed amongst all the perfectly trimmed grass blades and meticulously cared for lawn, and we cringe with envy.  However, other than that not so perfect lawn, what are the drawbacks of dandelions, and why do they have such a bad rap?

Let's look at the pros and cons of the dandelions and other weeds.

BENEFITS:

  1. Very nutritious

The dandelion is very nutritious, and every part of the plant can be used in some way.
As we know, many people use dandelion greens in salads, and they can also be cooked.  They are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K.  They also contain vitamin E, folate and some vitamin B(s).

They are also a great source of minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium. 

The greens are not the only part of the plant that is nutritious.  The dandelion root is very rich in the fibre Inulin, which is a type of soluble fibre.  The root is often dried and used to make tea but can also be eaten whole.  How brave are you?

 

  1. Rich in Antioxidants

Dandelions are also packed full of powerful antioxidants.  As we know, antioxidants help neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals in the body.

The antioxidant beta-carotene is mostly found in the flower of the dandelion, but it is also available in the root and the greens.

Dandelions also have polyphenols, which are thought to aid with digestion issues, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases as well as other health concerns.  Polyphenols are also thought to help reduce inflammation in the body. 

 

  1. Contains bioactive compounds

Dandelions contain the powerful bioactive compounds Chicoric and Chlorogenic.  These compounds are found in all parts of the plants and are credited with improving health concerns such as high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

Overall, the dandelion ‘weed’ seems to be the miracle plant.  Although I don’t recommend you go out into any yard and just start picking dandelions, that may have weed killer and that pets may have defecated on, you can certainly buy the eatable plants at the market.

Dandelions don’t just benefit us, humans. We have heard in the past few years how the bee population is dwindling, but bees Looove the dandelion flowers. Therefore, they thrive, the bee population increases, other plants get pollinated, and the whole ecosystem is one happy place.

 

The dandelion is also good in our lawn.  How you ask?  Well, on those hot, dry days, when there is a no watering ban, and the grass is looking very dry and brown, the dandelion makes the lawn look somewhat green.  You think I’m reaching, and I probably am.  

So, to review the Pros:

  1. Dandelions are nutritious and beneficial to our health.
  2. They keep the bees and the environment very happy.
  3. And they keep that dry, brown, mid-summer grass looking green.

 

Dandelion Cons:

  1. They mar the perfect, meticulously cut, straight grass blades, lawn.
  2. Not so pretty when the flower dies, and the seed heads appear.

I think we have proved the pros outweigh the cons.  And maybe we have a better outlook on these ‘magical’ weeds.

I personally have not yet gathered the courage to try out this wonderful weed.  I do, however, plan on using it in some of my skin care products.

By infusing a carrier oil with freshly picked dandelions, I can then use the infused oil in creams and lotions.

 

How to make dandelion infused oil:

  • Gather some fresh dandelions and clean them well. 
  • Choose a carrier oil.  Which carrier oil to use is a matter of preference.  Most people use Olive oil.  I find it a bit heavy and not always suitable to use in all skin care recipes.  I prefer to use a lighter oil like grapeseed oil.
  • Get a canning jar or any glass jar with a lid.
  • Bruise the dandelions with a mortar and pestle to allow its juices to seep out.
  • Fill the jar with the dandelion and then pour the carrier oil over it until it’s full.
  • Seal the jar and let it set for 4-6 weeks.
  • Strain the dandelions out and store the oil in a cool dark place until you are ready to use.

It’s that simple.

 

Stay tuned for the products that I will be making with the dandelion infused oil.

 

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