Body Mind Spring Cleaning: The Detoxing Power of Dandelions

‘Tis dandelion season! And if you thought they were weeds, think again.

When I start to see dandelions popping up, I imagine it as God’s sign that it’s time for a spring cleaning of the body and the mind. Dandelions are exceptionally detoxifying, and this spring I’m looking forward to taking full advantage of their nourishment – both physically and spiritually.


I find that eating foods with a history and connecting to that past is nourishing to my spirit.

The dandelion is an ancient plant that has transcended generations and cultures. The Chinese were among the first to discover its health benefits, then later the Arabs in the 11th century. Ancient Arab writings have been found to praise the usefulness of this “weed”.

It was the Arabs who passed on the knowledge of the dandelions to the Europeans, who incorporated it as a staple in their diet. It is believed that the dandelion came to North America on the Mayflower in 1620. By 1671, Canada and the United States were covered in the little yellow flowers.

The English name for dandelion is a play off the French phrase dent de lion, which means lion’s tooth. This is in reference to the dandelion’s coarsely toothed leaves.

Dandelion greens played a vital role in the Great Depression, as families depended on them for nourishment. They were readily available, free, healthy, and delicious. The leaves were made into salads, the flowers were eaten raw, and even the roots were cooked to be eaten or steeped for tea.

When I go out to pick my dandelions, I like to remember this history. I like to think that my hands are sifting through the same leaves that so many before me foraged and thrived on. There’s a feeling of security in knowing that the wisdom of these plants nourished many before me, and today they still nourish me.

Dandelions also remind me to take only what I need. I imagine that in ancient times, this was a plant that was picked and eaten fresh. I take what I need and leave the rest.

We don’t often think that way anymore. In our modern culture, we’re prone to hoarding. We think about what we MIGHT need tomorrow, or next month, or next year. So our lives and our homes and our head become cluttered with possessions. They begin to control us. We let things sit around until they rot instead of taking each day as it comes. Dandelions remind me to pull back. Live for the day. Worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes.


The amount of calcium that is absorbed through eating dandelion greens puts milk to shame. It is also a significant source of potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C.

Dandelion is detoxifying. It has the remarkable ability to pull toxins (even heavy metals!) out our blood stream and eliminate them from our bodies. It does this by simulating the production of bile, which flushes through our liver and has a decongesting effect on a cellular level.

Dandelion has also been known to stimulate increased respiratory function at a cellular level. Basically, it works to trigger a renewed feeling of energy and vitality after a winter season of cold, sluggishness, lack of exercise, and imported produce. Dandelion has been used for skin problems, hepatitis, and gall bladder issues.

Here is a gentle dandelion root detox from Vitality Magazine:

A gentle cleansing can be accomplished by simmering a decoction of 2-8 grams of the root (dried or fresh) per cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. A cup of this can be taken three times a day. Alternatively, eat the fresh root in salads. A piece 2-3 inches long is sufficient.

The leaves of dandelion are also used in salads as a spring cure, and they act as a drainer for the kidneys and urinary tract. They contain most of the nutrients of the root but also potassium (more than any other plant), chlorophyll, and the powerful energy of the plant’s first growth. You can eat them as soon as they appear and continue until the flowers come out. The leaves are also available in supermarkets and taste delicious along with other salad vegetables.

Below are some of the dandelion roots I dug up yesterday. Try to look for more secluded areas where not many people pass, and where no pesticides would have been used. Don’t dig in other people’s lawns!

Here are some youtube videos that helped me get started:

Have fun out there! There’s nothing like getting your hands into some rich, healthy soil and digging for your dinner.