“But like all good rebels, the dandelions are irrepressible.”
—Guido Masé, herbalist and author of The Wild Medicine Solution
Herbalists love to love dandelions. Not only do they grow abundantly all over the world, every single part of the plant offers us either food or medicine (or even a free wish).
While I adore dandelion leaf pesto and consider dandelion flower wine to be a delicious burst of flavored sunshine, I would have to say that drinking dandelion tea with roasted dandelion root is my favorite way to enjoy this plant.
Besides being yummy, dandelion root is full of nutrients and minerals, and herbalists frequently use it for a myriad of health benefits. Here’s a look at some of the specific ways dandelion root is beneficial.
Dandelion roots are high in a starchy substance called inulin. Humans can’t digest inulin, but you eat it it passes to the colon where it provides foods and nutrients for healthy gut flora. Many pro-biotic formulas now boast that they also contain pre-biotics like inulin. With dandelion roots you can avoid pills and let your food be your medicine.
Herbalists have long relied on the simple dandelion root for improved liver health. Because our livers are involved in many physiological functions, this means that dandelion can be used for a lot of different ailments.
Here are some examples:
- To support healthy hormone levels (poor liver health is associated with imbalanced hormones).
- To address skin inflammation (poor metabolic pathways can lead to inflammatory conditions in the body that can show up as acne, eczema, etc).
- To improve digestion (a healthy liver produces bile which is stored and then released from the gallbladder to digest fats).
Numerous studies have shown that dandelion improves liver health in animals; I would love to see well-designed human clinical trials further validating this use.
Folk herbalists have long used dandelion root to support the health of people who have cancer. Scientists are now looking into this and there are a handful of in vitro studies showing promising results. 1 2 3
Dandelions Are Wallet-Friendly
Another benefit of dandelion is its cost. To make this recipe you can buy roasted dandelion roots from apothecaries (they are fairly cheap). You can also buy raw roots and then roast them yourself.
However, if you’d like to take advantage of dandelions you have growing near you, here’s a step-by-step guide to harvesting and roasting your own.
Step by Step Guide to Harvesting and Roasting Dandelion Root
- Know how to properly identify a dandelion. There are lookalikes! You can read more about how to identify a dandelion in this article.
- Locate dandelion plants in an area where it is safe to harvest. (i.e., hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, doesn’t see a lot of pet traffic, etc).
- Carefully harvest the roots, ideally in the fall months. You’ll quickly learn to gently ease the roots from the earth, otherwise they will readily snap off. (Luckily for us as well as the dandelion, the plant will continue to grow even if it breaks off prematurely.)
- Gently wash the roots, leaving as much of the root sheath on as possible.
- Finely mince the roots and dry them thoroughly. (If you live in a humid environment you may need to use a dehydrator.)
- Once thoroughly dried, roast them in a dry cast iron pan on medium high heat, stirring frequently. You’ll know they are done when they turn a darker shade of brown and have a rich aromatic smell. Avoid burning them. You can also roast them in the oven at 350 degrees, checking on them frequently to stir and keep an eye on them to avoid burning.
- Once roasted you can store them in a dark, airtight container for up to a year.
Also a word about butter…
This recipe makes a foamy creamy dandelion tea with the aid of butter. To get the most benefits from butter, I recommend buying organic pasture-raised butter. While butter used to be vilified as heart-clogging unhealthy fat, we now know that high-quality butter is a good source of important fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins (A, K2) that can actually aid heart health. If you don’t eat butter, you can get similar effects by using ghee or coconut oil instead.
You can also omit the butter entirely and enjoy roasted dandelion root by itself; however, using the butter will give this dandelion tea a creamy taste with a foam top that is sooooo delicious.
Creamy Roasted Dandelion Root Tea Recipe
This is a lovely rich beverage that is perfect during the colder months. The addition of butter makes this a creamy and foamy drink, similar to a latte. The combination of dandelion root and high quality butter offers many potential benefits for the liver and heart.
What you’ll need…
- 2 tablespoons finely cut, dried and roasted dandelion roots (15 grams)
- 16 ounces water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Place the dandelion roots and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.
- Strain. Reserve the liquid and compost the roots.
- Place the butter and dandelion root tea in a blender. Blend on high for 10 seconds (taking any necessary precautions when blending a hot liquid – such as partially removing the lid to allow for steam to escape).
- Pour into a cup and drink immediately.
Yield: 1 serving
- Sigstedt, Sophia C, Carla J Hooten, Manika C Callewaert, Aaron R Jenkins, Anntherese E Romero, Michael J Pullin, Alexander Kornienko, Timothy K Lowrey, Severine Van Slambrouck, and Wim F A Steelant. “Evaluation of Aqueous Extracts of Taraxacum Officinale on Growth and Invasion of Breast and Prostate Cancer Cells.” International journal of oncology 32, no. 5 (2008): 1085-90. ↩
- Koo, Hyun-Na, Seung-Heon Hong, Bong-Keun Song, Cheorl-Ho Kim, Young-Hyun Yoo, and Hyung-Min Kim. “Taraxacum Officinale Induces Cytotoxicity Through TNF-alpha and IL-1alpha Secretion in Hep G2 Cells.” Life sciences 74, no. 9 (2004): 1149-57. ↩
- Yoon, Ji-Yong, Hyun-Soo Cho, Jeong-Ju Lee, Hyo-Jung Lee, Soo Young Jun, Jae-Hye Lee, Hyuk-Hwan Song, and others. “Novel TRAIL Sensitizer Taraxacum Officinale F.H. Wigg Enhances TRAIL-induced Apoptosis in Huh7 Cells.” Molecular carcinogenesis (2015)doi:10.1002/mc.22288. ↩