By Penelope A. Domogo, MD
One rainy morning, I saw a friendly lady gathering dandelion plants which she said she will use as tea. She had been seeing it talked about in television and apparently, she values nature’s blessings. This article is inspired by her.
“The word dandelion comes from the old French “dent-de-lion” meaning “lion’s tooth” referring to the toothed edges of its leaves.” (Philippine Medicinal Plants stuartxchange.org). It goes by the cute scientific name Taraxacum oficinale and is a common plant in the yard, in the tuping (riprap), along canals, on playgrounds. I saw a lot in St. Mary’s School quadrangle. Apparently, it likes to be near people. I haven’t seen these in the mountains far from houses- just an observation. It’s a native weed of Europe so it is an introduced species in the Philippines and grows in cool Cordilleras.
It was only recently popularized in mass media but it has a long history of medicinal use in traditional medicine around the world. The famous Filipino botanist, Leonard Co, in his book Common Medicinal Plants in the Cordillera lists a lot of uses of dandelion and I will mention some below:
1. Mastitis or breast inflammation – use dried plant decoction as drink together with mutha corms (common grass) or make an ointment of the dried powdered root.
2. Otitis media or ear infection – pound the fresh plant and apply the sap as ear drop.
3. Scalds- pound the fresh plant and rub the sap in scalded area.
4. Kamata or acute conjunctivitis – eye wash with boiled decoction of the dried plant.
5. Gastric and duodenal ulcers – finely-powdered dried taproot taken orally.
6. Indigestion with constipation, gallbladder stones, liver problems, fever, cough and colds, urinary tract infection- decoction of the fresh plant.
7. Chronic rheumatism, gout and stiff joints – boiled fresh taproot with dandelion juice
Other publications mention that dandelion helps in digestion, improves appetite, lowers blood cholesterol, lowers blood sugar and blood pressure and even shows anti-cancer properties. It is a diuretic meaning it cleanses which could explain many of its cure-all properties. Just like other green leafy vegetables, it contains a lot of beta-carotene which means a lot of antioxidants. It also contains a lot of plant chemicals that do wonders to the body.
It is a perennial plant and bears beautiful yellow flowers year-round too. What follows after the flower is a white puffball- kids love to blow the seeds away, me too! You don’t’ have to feel sick to get the benefits of dandelion because it can be eaten as a vegetable although the mature leaves and roots are bitter. Or just boil the leaves or whole plant and drink as tea to add to your garden teas. The tea is mild and pleasant. That’s dandelion for you.