DANDELION LEAF AND ROOT
The Earthwise Herbal, A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants
By Matthew Wood
“Although best known for its general properties as an alterative, Dandelion also possesses virtues of a highly specific nature, though these more definite indications are not well known. It is indicated when heat descends deeply into the tissues, thickening fluids, slowing down drainage, inflaming the deeper tissues, and even infecting the bones.
“Dandelion is especially indicated where there is a mapped or geographic tongue. ‘Tongue covered with a white film; feels raw; comes off in patches, leaving red, sensitive spots.’ Sometimes the film is yellow, sometimes the mapping is at the top or at the bottom, and sometimes it is so burned off that only remnants remain around the edges. The color of the tongue is dark red, indicating a sort of deep, internally established heat, although there may be spots of intense red showing off local inflammation. Sometimes there may be dark red lips, too. At the same time they are usually somewhat dry. After giving Dandelion, the tongue will usually turn from dark red to pink red, indicating that the heat is coming up from the depths but that a sensitivity to heat remains.
“If we understand the significance of the mapped tongue, we understand the process to which Dandelion is remedial. This indication would be associated with ‘phlegm fire’ in traditional Chinese medicine. The basic idea is that heat is baking down fluids while thickened fluids are blocking the outward escape of the heat. In practical terms, this means that Dandelion is indicated when heat has settled in the deeper tissues (muscles, bones) and is simmering away. It is well indicated when there is decalcification from infection in the bone.
“Strangely, I have several times used Dandelion Root with success in manic-depression, when accompanied by a mapped tongue. Here the mapped tongue indicates ‘phlegm fire obstructing the heart’ in traditional Chinese medicine. That is to say, the condition is acting on the mind.
“The root is used more for the alterative effect, to thin the fluids and reduce heat. It is indicated in stagnant bile, where heat is baking down the bile and we get gallstones. It has long been used to slowly cleanse the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. Enhancing bile flow, it improves ‘such conditions as liver congestion, bile duct inflammation, hepatitis, gallstones, and jaundice.’ Dandelion has been used for some problems derived from liver and gallbladder stasis, such as high cholesterol, excess urea, gout, constipation, portal stagnation, varicose veins, cellulitis, eczema, acne, and herpes.
“Dandelion Leaf has an earthen taste, so it increases diuresis. It is indicated in tiresome, achy, feverish, chronic infections with relief from urination. Because the leaves contain sodium and potassium they act on both sides of the kidney mechanism: excreting fluids and retaining specific contents. Hence, Dandelion Leaf is one of the few diuretics that retains potassium and builds up the retentive side of the kidneys. As a diuretic, Dandelion Leaf can cause weight loss due to water removal.
“Effective in small, medium, or large doses. Dandelion leaves are more diuretic, roots are more cholagogue, the flower acts more on the heart. Dandelion harmonizes a formula.
“SPECIFIC INDICATIONS: liver congested, swollen, gallbladder congested, bile thick, adhesive, gallstone formation, lack of bile secretion, jaundice from backed-up bile, constipation from lack of bile in the intestines; anemia from lack of bile production and recycling; high cholesterol, high blood pressure; one of the best remedies for cardiorenal edema; diabetes type II, hypoglycemia; breast congestion, hardness, mastitis; cancer; PMS; menopausal problems from poor liver function; liver not breaking down extra hormones; muscular pain, swelling, heat; especially in the sternocleidomastoid muscle and neck; inflammation of the muscles; muscles tight and swollen; chronic rheumatism; infections in bones; rheumatoid arthritis, with deformation of the fingers; acne, abscesses, boils, eczema, herpes, age spots; acute fever with high temperature.”
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