In November I suffered from a dreaded Kidney infection. I have never had one in my life, and now I know what everyone talks about. During my treatment, I cut caffeine from my diet.
Boy was that hard! This is coming from a one cup of coffee a day (at least) drinker for the past few years. But, I have been wanting to nix coffee for a while, so I figured with 2 weeks of detoxifying during my treatment, I would just ride with that "no caffeine kick". So, I have been experiencing with several different caffeine-free coffee alternatives.
I have tried many different blends, some with roasted chicory. I like Teechino the best, but it can become expensive. I started to think about trying some dandelion blends, as I heard a lot about that being a great coffee alternative.
Now I've tried several cups of roasted dandelion root tea. I seem to like it better than the Teechino because it quells by coffee craving (even though the flavor of Teechino is more like coffee). Maybe the suttle bitterness of roasted dandelion tea does it for me. I know the many benefits of dandelion from a Chinese medical perspective, so it got me thinking of how other cultures used this herb.
First of all, I noticed all cultures use the whole plant for most purposes. Typically the roasted root is the coffee substitute. You can even go to your own backyard and pull out a fresh dandelion plant and use it medicinally. You want to harvest the plant when they "consist of yellow, almost globular, unfragmented and stalkless flower buds with an aromatic fragrance". When the flowers have fully opened, it's too late. You may dry the herb or use it fresh, and cook it as a decoction or use it topically.
The first recorded reference to the use of dandelion in Chinese texts was AD 659, treating appendicitis and digestive disorders, and stimulating milk flow. . Chinese medicine also uses this herb both internally and externally to treat eye redness, firm and hard nodules, internal abscesses, and external sores, hepatitis, and UTI. Pu gong yin (Chinese pin yin for dandelion) is particularly useful in treating breast and intestinal abscesses. Pu gong yin is harvested in the spring season.
By the Tenth century Arabian doctors began using dandelion, and introduced it to European medicine for its treatment for fever, boils, eye problems, diabetes, diarrhea, and Liver problems.
There is a place in Greece known as Ikaria, and the locals specialized in longevity techniques. They used herbs and wild greens for their diuretic effects to stimulate Kindey function, and regulate blood pressure through sodium excretion. Dandelion also has anti-inflammatory properties, and is a great preventative for dementia.
Native Americans used dandelion to treat kidney disease, swellings, skin problems, and heartburn. Western medicine uses dandelion for its diuretic action, easing digestive distress, joint inflammatory conditions, inflammative skin problems, liver problems, and a mild laxative effect. In Western medicine dandelion leaves are harvested year long with the roots in autumn.
Research has proven that dandelion is rich in potassium. That is why it has a great diuretic effect, but it does not deplete your body of potassium. Some studies also show it can normalize blood sugar, anti microbial and antibacterial effects, antioxidant properties, and anti-inflammatory properties, especially with tumors and breast, lung, intestine, and skin cancers.
So, why not add a cup of dandelion tea to your diet every day?
Have a peaceful day!
-Rachelle Lambert, L.Ac.