The Detoxifying Spring Herb Already Growing In Your Backyard
To help you salute spring's arrival, we’ve put together a new wellness series on how to start the season off right. In this piece, doctor and Ayurvedic expert Kulreet Chaudhary shares how she uses dandelion to detox this time of year. And if you’re interested in really springing forward into good health, check out her full course, How to Use Ancient Ayurvedic Wisdom to Heal Your Gut & Achieve Long-Lasting Weight Loss.
In Ayurveda, spring is celebrated as the ideal season for detoxification. In nature, we see the snow melt and flowers begin to emerge from the ground. During this time of rebirth, rhythms in your body mimic those in the environment. The toxins in your body also begin to “melt,” allowing cellular renewal.
All of this internal spring cleaning requires some extra effort from your organs, especially the liver—one of the most important organs for detoxification. That's why, as an integrative doctor and Ayurvedic expert, I recommend a few methods to assist your body's natural detoxification cycle during this time.
One of my favorites: adding dandelion to your daily routine.
Why Dandelions Are Considered a Natural Tonic
As children, you probably remember running through the yard and admiring the little yellow flowers that transformed into magical puffs of white growing in most suburban neighborhoods—the dandelion flower. These flowers seem like little jewels growing out of the earth, and are synonymous with childhood wishes. Besides being a vehicle for childhood dreams, this weed is actually a medicinal wonder used in many ancient health systems.
Dandelion leaves and roots have been utilized for centuries as a medical tonic. Traditionally, they have been used to cleanse the liver and to assist with digestion issues. Dandelion is also considered a natural diuretic that helps remove excess water from your body, which can support your body’s natural spring detoxification and take some of the pressure off your liver.
I believe that most people’s livers are overburdened with the amount of work they have to do on a daily basis, given our modern lifestyles. The liver is the organ that breaks down the majority of medications, and it removes metabolites created from the consumption of alcohol and fatty foods. Dandelion not only benefits the liver but also its digestive partner, the gallbladder. The gallbladder is responsible for bile production, which allows the body to break down fats. You need proper bile flow to utilize fats properly. As a diuretic, dandelion can stimulate you to urinate more. This helps to cleanse the entire urinary tract.
How to Incorporate Dandelions into Your Day
The leaves, which are full of vitamins and minerals, can be eaten and taste a bit like arugula. The flowers are also edible. You can add dandelion flower petals directly to your salads or stir-fry them with your vegetables.
My favorite way to eat dandelions is using the greens in salads or cooking them with other green, leafy vegetables, like kale. I also like drinking dandelion root tea a few times a week during the spring. I put just one tea bag in a thermos full of hot water and sip it all day long. There are also dandelion blends that serve as wonderful coffee substitutes.
So this little yellow flower, that many consider an unwanted weed, is actually a blessing found in your own backyard.