The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Dandelion Root Tea

A while back, Frank came across an article on Fox that talked about dandelion root tea and how it benefits the body. It sounded interesting so we did some research.

Two of my favorite medicinal herb reference books both outline the positive affects of dandelion root tea for daily use. These benefits include:

  •  a liver tonic; to help stimulate a sluggish liver; for liver and gallbladder problems
  • promotes good digestion
  • for indigestion, loss of appetite and constipation

  •  one of the most effective detoxifying herbs
  • helps liver and gallbladder remove waste products
  • stimulates kidney to remove toxins in the urine
  • encourages steady elimination of toxins due to infection or pollutions
  • therapeutic benefits for constipation, skin problems, arthritic conditions including osteoarthritis and gout

Then I looked up information online and found the following at MindBodyGreen:
  • improves digestion and aids weight loss
  • eases congestion of the liver
  • helps to purify the bladder and kidney
  • reduces risk of urinary tract infection
  • contains calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium, vitamins B and C
  • helps to purify the blood, regulate blood sugar, and improves blood circulation
  • helps to ease bloating and aching joints
  • helps to cure skin conditions

With all of this information in hand, we pondered the benefit of adding a cup of dandelion root tea to our daily diet. Since it is winter, we can't harvest our own crop, but we could buy some and give it a try. Dandelion is something that is always readily available in the summer and we could easily grow and dehydrate our own crop of roots if we found this to be beneficial. So after we thought about it for a few days, we decided to order some. I went to my favorite bulk spice company, Monterey Bay Spice Company, found several choices, and ordered some.

When it came in, it was back to my herb books for directions. Since we are using a root for the tea it is considered to be a decoction, not an infusion. A decoction is: the act or process of boiling usually in water so as to extract the flavor or active principle. Compared to an infusion which is: the steeping or soaking usually in water of a substance (as a plant drug) in order to extract its soluble constituents or principles. From all of my reading I have learned that an infusion is used with leaves and flowers. A decoction is used when the plant parts utilized are seeds, berries, bark, roots and stems. With these plants parts it takes more time to extract the desired contents, therefore it has to be boiled. It has taken me some time to learn the differences since I am new to trying to grow herbs for health or medicinal purposes. 

Both books give similar directions for making a decoction of dandelion roots. The measurements for the amount of root is given in ounces so we needed to weigh it to determine an appropriate measurement.
The first scale we bought, many years ago, is on the right. We found out quickly that it may look good with the bowl on top, but it is not very accurate or easy to use. So we bought the one on the left. It is definitely the type we would recommend. It can weigh out one and a half ounces of herbs or six pounds of tomatoes. It is much more versatile and durable. It is also easy to adjust, so that regardless of the weight of the container you use to hold the items you are weighing, the dial can be set to zero, making accurate measuring very easy. 

We bought one pound of dandelion root to start with. If this appears to be something we want to continue, we will order more until we can harvest and dry our own this summer. It is very interesting to learn more about the properties of plants, even this pesky little weed, that have been put here for a purpose. The more I learn, the more humbling it is to know we are provided every needful thing.

The decoction recipe calls for one and a half ounces  of root per pint and a half of water. I think in cups and tablespoons so I converted things as we figured out the measurements.
We also decided to make a weaker version to start with until we can see if we have any undesirable side effects. I think it is always wise to err on the side of caution when trying something new of this nature. We can increase the dosage over time, similar to how we started off with kefir.
We decided to make our first batch one third strength. So we measured one half ounce, then figured out it was less than a quarter cup, about a tablespoon and a half. As we did this, I realized that one pound of root won't go very far, but I didn't want to order very much and find out we weren't going to use it.

Well, here goes. We added almost two tablespoons of root to three cups of water, which is a pint and a half. It looks rather strange, honestly. The directions say to bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. We chose 10 minutes.

Our comment when it was done? It looks kind of like dirt and smells like dirt and grass. Do we really want to drink this? We were surprised how much the roots swelled during the boiling process.

The directions say to strain out the roots. Well most of them stayed in the pan as we slowly poured out the liquid, so we don't really see the need for the strainer next time. is a little bitter, but not near as bad as we thought it would be. Not something you would serve to guests, unless maybe you sweetened it with honey or something. I prefer to drink mine down quickly once it has cooled. It's not something I want to sip on, like coffee. We have been drinking a cup everyday. There are no specific side effects that we can detect. For now we will continue to keep this at one third to half strength for a while.

So, next I got out another book about growing and harvesting herbs. This will give me good recommendations about collecting seeds, planting and harvesting this summer. Then I will figure out how to dehydrate and store these roots. There are so many things to learn and do to be more self reliant. Being dependent upon others for our food and good health makes us vulnerable. Dependence evokes a helplessness that we prefer not to have. Each and every little thing that we can learn and do for ourselves increases our freedom. Freedom to choose to live the way we wish without the preset mandates that marketing and the medical field insist that we live by. I truly feel this knowledge and the skill to produce viable alternatives will be essential in our future. I know so little and need to learn so much. I feel the time is short.

Until next time - Fern

1 comment:

  1. When we were children my mother made us a "Spring Tonic" Dandelion Tea from the first dandelions of spring. She never explained why but we loved it as we got a bit of honey in it and it made us feel grown up to drink "Tea". We also loved Dandelion Salad, the first greens of the year. we did not buy lettuce or any of the readily available greens we can now buy at the grocery store, they were unavailable. The tea was refreshing and when I think back made us feel better. There is much to be said about learning these things. Thank you Fern.