European settlers deliberately introduced it to the New World, where Natives quickly took it up. The Mohegans drank dandelion leaf tea as a tonic, while other Indians prepared a tea from the roots for heartburn. Because the flowers have such a long blooming season, later settlers introduced the dandelion into the Midwest to provide food for bees.
Dandelion greens are edible, either as a salad or cooked, and furnish a rich source of vitamins A and C. The blossoms are made into wine, and the dried roots can be ground, roasted, and brewed into a coffeelike beverage. The brew from the roots has been drunk as a tonic and for the reputed diuretic effect that accounts for its common French name, pissenlit, or "piss-in-bed." Dried dandelion leaves make a tea that is mildly laxative. But the most notable health use of the dandelion has been the support for liver ailments with a brew made from the roots.
A tea from the leaves can be used as a tonic and to help promote bowel regularity. Although a brew from the roots is given for liver, gallbladder, and other digestive ailments, only its use as a tonic is fairly well substantiated. Dandelion wine can be made from the blossoms.
General Herb Information
Much money is spent on herbicides to remove this cheery flower from lawns and gardens, but the dandelion holds its own, producing seeds with or without pollination and distributing them far and wide.
Habitat: Meadows, roadsides, lawns.
Range: Throughout most of North America.
Identification: A perennial herb with a short stem hidden beneath a basal rosette of deeply toothed leaves. The plant has slender, hollow stalks that bear single heads of tiny, tongue-shaped yellow flowers (March-September). The flowerheads open wide in the morning and close in the evening. When mature, these flowerheads turn into downy white balls of seeds (actually fruits), each with its own parachute that carries it away on the wind.
Uses: The flowers can be boiled to make a yellow dye, the roots a magenta one.
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Anonymous - February 14, 2007, 08:58
I wanted to thank you for sending me these health newsletters , I do enjoy reading them. I don't know how I got into your system ...........but thanks.
I would like to know if you have anything about the plant belladonna and what the plant looks like??
If you also have anything on dandylions, I would love to read up on that
ZooScape Moderator - February 15, 2007, 08:29
There is enough research and information available to go on forever, but I've tried to boil down the information into a few brief paragraphs:
Belladonna is a tall perennial (3-6 feet high) with purple, bell-shaped flowers. It's name, atropa belladonna, is derived from one of the three Fates in Greek mythology who "cut the thread of life". This is significant because belladonna is actually a poisonous plant. The natural chemicals found in the plant have been used by doctors to dilate puipls and for their sedative and relaxant effects on smooth muscle. These properties have also made belladonna useful in relieving tremors in Parkinson's disease patients and as an anesthetic. It is always used with a great deal of caution since the medicinal doses are dangerously close to toxic dosages that can lead to paralysis and death.
Belladonna, as with many other natural substances that would be toxic or near-toxic in regular herbal dosages, is more typically used in homeopathy. Homeopathy, and the underlying "Law of Similars" that governs it, involves extremely diluted concentrations of substances like belladonna (or poison ivy called rhus toxicodendron, for example). These plant substances would be harmful to the body in herbal or medicinal dosages, but when concentrated to the point where nothing remains but their "energy imprint", they are used to relieve a variety of disorders. Homeopathic belladonna has been used to relieve everything from infections, fevers, flu, and headaches to labour pains, nephritis, cystitis, and teething in infants.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Products are intended to support general well being and are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure any condition or disease. If conditions persist, please seek advice from your medical doctor. Information provided at ZooScape.com relies partly on Traditional Uses. The essence of the current American rule on Traditional Uses is, as stated by FTC, "Claims based on historical or traditional use should be substantiated by confirming scientific evidence, or should be presented in such a way that consumers understand that the sole basis for the claim is a history of use of the product for a particular purpose."