Although you may think of dandelions as common weeds to be eradicated, they are actually not only a tasty food source but also a nutritional powerhouse. The greens of the dandelion can be added to salads or wilted as a side dish like any other green, and the blossoms or leaves can be made into dandelion tea. This has a long history of use, particularly in Chinese medicine. Herbalists have been using dandelion to treat appendicitis and digestive disorders for centuries. Native Americans used dandelions in a wide range of ways, including the prevention of heartburn, as a cure for cramps or PMS, and as a general energy tonic to help boost health.
This effect on energy may be due to the high concentration of vitamins and minerals in the dandelion plant. Dandelion tea is often used as a substitute for coffee for those who are trying to kick the caffeine habit but still need a little boost in the morning. By putting a teaspoon of dandelion root in a cup and adding boiling water, you can have the same effects as coffee without the jittery side effects. The tea is also available in prepackaged bags, which are handy when you don't have too much time in the morning.
Another effect that dandelion tea has for many people is the ability to help them lose weight. Because it is a diuretic, helping flush excess water out of the system, dandelion can increase urine production and promote the removal of salts or other toxins from the system. This can lead to the shedding of water weight, and leave you feeling slim. This same diuretic function helps with detoxification programs, because it can be used to help cleanse the kidneys, liver, and colon. To achieve these effects, it's best to drink two or three cups of the tea per day while you are on a diet or trying to cleanse your system.
It's possible to make dandelion tea from the roots, flowers, or leaves. Some use a mixture of all three, for the most intense flavor. Most of the nutrients are found in the roots and leaves, however, although the flowers provide a boost of delicate flavor as well. Dandelion wine is also prepared from the flowers, and is also known to be good for the heart and overall sense of well being. Although you can purchase the tea for the highest level of convenience, most people have a few dandelions growing in the yard if you want to give it a try.