‘Teeth of the lion’ used in many natural remedies
Practioners of herbal medicine say the dandelion doesn’t have a thing to waste. Its flowers can be made into an alcohol with a unique aroma, while its leaves are considered a health food with abundant vitamins and minerals. The beta-carotene in the leaves is an antioxidant, which removes oxygen free radicals from the body, slows the aging process and prevents cancer and certain illnesses more frequent in the elderly. Vitamin A prevents night blindness and boosts the immune system, while vitamin C helps prevent infectious diseases, such as the flu, and helps injuries recover.
Dandelions also contain 108 milligrams of calcium per 100 grams, which helps promote healthy bones and teeth, and assists in the control of blood pressure. It also contains iron that prevents anemia, and the leaves contain natural diuretics that help in regular urination ― not much different from prescription diuretics from hospitals, with the exception that they promote the retention of potassium. In folk remedies, the leaves were also used to remove warts or dark spots on the skin.
Its roots have been used as drugs in both traditional Oriental and Western folk medicines. If picked and dried before the flowers blossom, they were used in Oriental medicine as a fever remedy and to remove swelling. The roots are also good for improving liver function as they contain choline, which is known to be a nutrient source for the organ. For that reason, it’s a recommended alternative for those suffering from hepatitis, gallstones or jaundice.
“Boil and cool some water and add 500 grams of fresh dandelion leaves, stalks and roots. Boil it again until the water volume is reduced by half. After filtering the water, drink 25 mililiters six times a day,” recommended Oh Hong-geun, a professor of the Graduate School of Complementary and Alternative Medicine at Jeonju University.
Dandelion roots are also helpful in controlling diabetes, as they contain traces of inulin ― a compound with similar properties to insulin. Experiments with animals have shown that digesting the compound helps control blood sugar levels. According to a report by a research team at the University of Zagreb in Croatia, the blood sugar level of 72 mice suffering from induced diabetes dropped dramatically after being injected with inulin extracted from dandelion roots.
In Europe, the roots have been used to treat high blood pressure ― mannitol is the active ingredient here ― and also to help mothers lactate after birth.
Dandelion tea, made from the roots and leaves, is said to be especially good for inflammation of the respiratory tract, and as a palliative (pain reliever) for measles, parotitis and chicken pox.
Dandelions that are picked from mid-March to mid-May are best, but be careful not to pick those growing near streets or highways, as they may be contaminated by lead and automobile exhaust. Those grown near cultivated fields or gardens may not be safe, as they could contain weedkiller residue.
by Park Tae-kyun
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