HISTORY OF DANDELIONS


Dandelions are thought to have evolved about thirty million years ago in Eurasia. They have been used by humans for food and as an herb for much of recorded history.In spite of our general attitudes toward dandelions; they’ve survived the test of time. Also known as swine’s snout, yellow gowan, Irish daisy and peasant’s cloak, the dandelion has enjoyed allies since the 10th century. Dandelion was recommended in the works of Arab physicians in the 11th century and in an herbal written by the physicians of Myddfai in Wales in the 13th century.

Dandelion was not mentioned in Chinese herbals until the 7th century CE, nor did it appear in Europe until 1265.   While Western herbalists separate the leaves and the root, the Chinese use the whole plant.

Dandelion has a long history of traditional use in many systems of medicine in the treatment of hepatobiliary problems. The root is traditionally used to treat liver and spleen ailments 

Dandelion is used both as a food as well as a beverage. Dandelion root is often used as a substitute for coffee. The young leaves of the Dandelion plant make a useful addition to a salad.

Historically it was prized for a variety of medicinal properties, and contains a wide number of pharmacologically active compounds.  Dandelions were used as folk remedies in North America, Mexico and China. Culturally they were used to treat infections, bile and liver problems, as well as cancers, and as a diuretic. There is evidence to suggest dandelions may have anti-inflammatory effects and assist with urinary tract infections in women. Dandelion pollen may cause allergic reactions when eaten, or adverse skin reactions in sensitive individuals. Due to its high potassium level, dandelion may also increase the risk of hyperkalemia when taken with potassium-sparing diuretics.

 In the doctrine of signatures the bitter tasting leaves represented the liver and the yellow flower aligned to the bile colouring

 1485 – In folkloric China, India and Russia, dandelion was an effective liver tonic. In the 10th century, Arab physicians relied on dandelion as a laxative, diuretic and liver tonic. In 1485, European physicians used the leaves and roots of dandelions as diuretics .

They were introduced to North America by early European immigrants. Moreover, two of these three varieties are figured respectively by Anton Pinaeus in 156Í, and by Dodonaeus in 1616.Thus in Vilmorin, Andrieux et Cie’s seed-catalogue 1616, three distinct varieties of dandelion are figured. Upon the grounds of the NY experiment station, there are to be found growing wild, under conditions which seemingly preclude the possibility of their being escapes from cultivation, dandelions corresponding very closely to these three varieties.  Frontier healers recommended dandelion as a spring tonic, and it is credited with saving the lives of the pioneers in winter because of its high vitamin content.

Native Americans used it for many reasons, including treating skin problems such as acne, eczema, and hives. The Pillager-Ojibwa made a dandelion root tea as a treatment for heartburn, while the Cherokee used the tea to calm nerves. The Iroquois used dandelion for a wide variety of conditions, including anaemia, constipation, pain, and water retention. Many tribes chewed the dried sap like chewing gum and even roasted the root to make a coffee substitute.

The juice of the plant’s root is still used by herbalists to treat diabetes. It is also prescribed as a mild laxative and is considered one of the best herbs for building up the blood

A strong diuretic, its properties are absorbed through the skin. Young children who handle the flowers too much will have nocturnal enuresis, or wet the bed. This was the name given to it in former times (Wet-the-beds), and obviously recognized before the active principles in the plant were discovered and chemically isolated.

The dandelion was used in the New Mexico region of the US since it was introduced by the Spanish around 1820. Some tribal remedies included boiling the blooms in water until the water turned a bright yellow. The liquid was then allowed to sit outside overnight and a glassful drunk every morning for a month to cure heart trouble. Others ground the leaves and applied the paste to broken bones and wrapping the area with bandages encrusted with fresh leaves to speed healing. The leaves could also be ground and added to dough to be applied to bad bruises to “take the blood out”.

In 1748, a traveller in French Canada discovered that the roots of the dandelion were used in salad as a tonic.

In the mid-18th century in Pennsylvania, a large group of Mennonites brought the dandelion with them when they fled from religious persecution in Germany. They used the roots mainly for kidney and liver problems, manifested by the yellowing of the skin. The Shakers, in the mid-19th century US, also used the herb for liver problems.

Dandelion is used both as a food as well as a beverage. Dandelion root is often used as a substitute for coffee. The young leaves of the Dandelion plant make a useful addition to a salad.

This drink apparently first appeared in England in 1265, and was made from fermented dandelion and burdock roots. 1485 – In folkloric China, India and Russia, dandelion was an effective liver tonic. In the 10th century, Arab physicians relied on dandelion as a laxative, diuretic and liver tonic. In 1485, European physicians used the leaves and roots of dandelions as diuretics .

During WWII, dandelions were cultivated for the latex extracted from the roots. The latex was used to make rubber. In Dec 29, 1941 – “war machine may be rolling along two years from now on rubber tires made from Ohio-grown dandelions. The National Farm Council announced today that It had discovered a rubber-bearing dandelion, known as kok-sagyz, which will produce synthetic rubber.”  Russian Dandelions May Be Answer To Rubber Shortage . Related web pages

 

1. http://www.wildcrafted.com.au/Botanicals/Dandelion.html

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