Welcome to my monthly series…Herbs and Children! I have been learning so much about herbs and how to treat a variety of illnesses, infections, skin conditions, emotions, and other issues in children. While I am far from an expert, I do feel as though I have a lot of great information to share with you that can then use to do your own further research. Each month, I will share a specific “condition” or health concern and the specific herbs that are known to be safe and effective to use on and in your children to address these conditions. Be sure to read to the end of each post where I link up the previous posts in the series. Also, there may be a few links for products from my affiliate partners. If you click on them and make a purchase, it helps support my blog. And remember, I am not a licensed medical professional nor do I play one on this blog. Nothing I write should be taken as medical advice.
When I think of springtime in my youth, I always picture myself at about 6 years old, laying in the grass, blowing the seedy tops of dandelions up towards the blue sky. We lived in a desert area so these precious treasures were few and far between. Whenever I stumbled upon one, I would savor the moment, watching the seeds fly off in every direction.
Little did I know that 30+ years later, I would be frying up the yellow dandelion flowers and eating them as a side dish or adding the fresh green leaves to salads. Nor did I know that I would fall in love with dandelion tea.
When it comes to my daughter, I am always looking for ways to maximize her vitamin and mineral intake from food sources. In fact, I do not use any sort of vitamin or mineral supplement for her and probably never will. Dandelions take center stage in our house during spring and fall (when they tend to be less bitter and more tender).
Did you know that dandelion leaves, flowers, and roots are all edible?
This herb, yes herb not weed, is a powerhouse of health! Check it out:
- Dandelion greens are loaded with calcium. Just one cup of chopped dandelion greens has 103 milligrams of calcium.
- Dandelion greens have a high iron content. One cup contains 1.7 milligrams of iron.
- Dandelion greens are high in vitamin A in the form of antioxidant carotenoid (beta-carotene) and vitamin C. (Vitamin C also helps facilitate iron absorption.) It also houses vitamins B1, B2, and B6, vitamin E, and is especially abundant in vitamin K.
- Dandelion greens are rich in minerals. Besides calcium and iron, they are a good source of copper, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium.
- Dandelion greens have more protein per serving than spinach. The greens themselves are 14% protein and contain all essential amino acids so it's a complete protein. One chopped cup contains 1.5 grams of protein.
Unless your child has an allergy to them, dandelions are considered very safe when consumed as a food, even at young ages. (Anyone with an allergy to ragweed, chrysanthemum, marigold, chamomile, yarrow, or daisy should avoid dandelion). If you are interested in using dandelions medicinally, I suggest that you consult with an herbalist. While I have used dandelion teas successfully with my daughter, most scientific studies of the medicinal uses of dandelion have been in animals, not people.
What are some of the medicinal benefits of dandelion?
Traditionally, dandelion has been used as a diuretic, to increase the amount of urine in order to get rid of too much fluid. This is not typically an issue for children unless said child has liver problems.
Fresh or dried dandelion herb is also used as a mild appetite stimulant which might be beneficial in a child with a sluggish appetite. It is also known to settle an upset stomach. The root of the dandelion plant may act like a mild laxative and has been used to improve digestion.
A few animal studies also suggest that dandelion might help fight inflammation which sadly, a lot of children have these day.
How should I prepare dandelions to make them appeal to my child?
First, try to harvest in spring or fall and always do so in a more “wild setting.” Roadside dandelions are chalk full of pollutants and park dandelions are chalk full of animal waste and most likely weed killer. So try to find a field that is off the beaten path a bit.
After a harvest, always soak the dandelions for at least 15 minutes. Just cover them with cool water. Be sure to allow them time to dry. Just spread them out on a towel for about an hour.
Here are two of our favorite Dandelion Flower recipes. I'm pretty boring when it comes to preparing the greens. I either add them to a salad raw, add them to soups, or sauté them in a little olive oil.
Fried Dandelion Flowers
Candied Dandelion Flowers
[yumprint-recipe id='117′]I'm sure those of you who are new to the world of “is it a weed, no it's a herb” are hesitant to tackle dandelions. Maybe even some of the more experienced weed-eaters (hahaha) don't really know the full range the dandelion and its uses. Good thing my friend Amanda from Natural Herbal Living Magazine (affiliate link) offered to hook one lucky reader up with her April Herb Box of the Month. Spoiler Alert – it is all about getting down and dirty with the Dandelion!
I have reviewed Natural Herbal Living Magazine and the Herb Box of the Month before. You might want to read it to come up to speed on how amazing this magazine and box are. I've subscribed since Month 1 and eight month later am absolutely giddy the day my Herb Box arrives. Not only have I been learning about different ways to use some herbs I thought I was already well versed in, but my daughter and I have SO MUCH FUN with the herb box activities. Plus, it is a great way to entice her to try new flavors of teas, tinctures, and other herbal products she might be a bit hesitant over.
So anyway, I adore Amanda, I can't imagine being without my Herb Box each month, and I thoroughly enjoy the monthly magazine. It is an investment worth making in my humble opinion.