Dandelion is more valuable than any dietary supplement anywhere.
It can be found wherever there is damp soil, but it likes to grow in full sun. This makes it difficult to cultivate dandelions in Gauteng, as the dry winters tend to kill them off, and the summer is not much easier. It is advisable, like with all other herbs, to take mental note of every clump in your vicinity. You will never grow enough, the more you grow, the more you use, so I steal other peoples’ weeds with no guilt feelings at all. They do grow in pots, but be sure to plant it in deep soil, the root is rather carrot-like, and can become quite long. The root is thick but brittle, and is almost guaranteed to break during your digging. A root broken just below soil surface, will sprout again, as will the “carrot top” of leaves, but not as easily. Many thistles and daisies can be used as a substitute in need, some better than others.
Depending on the size of the plants, and the urgency of your need, it is advisable to have a sturdy digger with you. In emergencies, I will dig up the nearest lawn using a screwdriver, and use the entire plant, from root to flower, and everything in between. For casual use, like a sniffer’s tea, a clump of leaves and flowers has served me well and often. To get to the root, you will have to dig deep. The root is thick but brittle, and can easily be destroyed by poking your digging tool right through it. Scrub under clean water, and either chop up for immediate use, or hang to preserve like you would a bunch of carrots. Be aware that dried roots can be quite difficult to process.
Dandelion has many, many uses, not least of which is a tasty addition to green salads, but we will talk only about tea. I prefer using fresh plants, but dried dandelion leaves are freely available and not much more expensive than you can expect, considering it is a hated weed. Using fresh material, you can prepare it as you would your favourite teabag; boil water, pour over leaves, let stand to draw, flavour and drink. I don’t bother with flavour. Also, seeing as dandelion is supposed to clear up phlegm and gunk, mixing in milk might be counterproductive. Honey is always a good idea, but as always with honey, wait until the tea is drinking temperature before you add honey, otherwise the heat will destroy all the honey’s benefits. We have many ways to make tea, but this is the simplest: soak in a cup covered by a saucer until the leaves sink to the bottom. Drink up. In urgent times I have been seen to shove clumps of leaves into my mouth, eating them fresh and green, why not?
Ah, here be the rub. I can’t tell you what to use things for; I am not a licensed health practitioner. I can steal some information from other peoples’ work and give you the list of chemicals that has been shown to maybe do something and somehow make something happen. You can find that sort of information from other places; it is not my intellectual property to hand around. I can tell you why I drink so much of it, if you are interested:
1) Colds and flu. Greenpets does not subscribe to modern viral theory. This is now the new habit of telling every client that comes in “uh, it must be this new virus, lots of it going around” That is intellectual laziness and professional fraud. Or is that intellectual fraud and professionalism turning patients into clients? We understand and accept the concept of viruses, we understand some of the mechanics and we do not deny that viruses, like every other substance living or dead, may, under some conditions, be detrimental, beneficial or irrelevant to your health. Dandelion has been accused of anti-inflammatory actions, but I am not aware of antiviral effects. It does cure the common cold as quickly as you start therapy, so either dandelion is better than science thinks, or the cold is not virally induced. We are not qualified to decide. See the section on health mechanics. …and the Disclaimer.
2) Arthritis. Dandelion is diuretic, it makes you pee. Rheumatism, gout and suchlike seems to be caused or aggravated by uric acid building up in the body. This means pee crystals in your joints and suchlike. Very crude way to explain it, but we are for understanding, not knowledge. Dandelion helps people with joint pains, full stop. There is no overdose, eat it, drink it, brew it, boil it, eat it raw, but get some!
3) Fake herb-lover differentiator. Here we refer to the effect dandelion has on people who also “love herbs and things”, so they come visit to see the herb farm we apparently run. Their first reaction has by now become clichéd, “Oh, you have those things! All you need is spray them with X, or poison them with Y. That’s what my daddy used on his lawn”. Bugger off, you are pointing at my wild dandelions growing wherever they want, you fool! But at least I now know there is nothing you can add to our life and purpose, have some coffee and I’ll show you out.
4) Warts. The juice is slightly sticky, and it does burn the skin somewhat. This can be used to burn off warts, but there are plants with more effective latexes, or you can try carnivorous plants’ digestive secretions. Pennies in the moonlight have proven effective, too. “I disavow thee by this here potato…” etc.