Following on from my latest video on the magickal Dandelion, which you can watch on my YouTube channel at the link above, here are a few pointers on how to work with this nutritive supporting herb to boost health and healing. The dandelion has a real affinity for the liver and amongst other valuable health benefits that I write about in my Herb of the Month post on dandelion in this blog, has high levels of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that provides strong protection against cellular damage and oxidative stress. This helps slow the signs of ageing and may help the body live longer overall (Bartram’s Encyclopaedia of Herbal Medicine, 1990). We can capture these health benefits by making a potent tincture to use as a liver tonic.
This is the folk method of tincturing. There is a mathematical method also, to ensure batch consistency, but for the purposes of this post, we shall stick with the easiest version. First we need to amass our herb material. The whole plant can be used, leaf, root and flowerhead. Make sure these are dried, then fill a kilner jar up about half way with the herb. Next, we need our menstruum. Using alcohol as our menstruum is the most effective method of extracting the valuable nutritive constituents of the plant. You can use glycerine if you prefer, but this will be an extract rather than a proper tincture and less effective. I use vodka as it has minimal flavour, which allows the tincture to take on some of the taste of the herb as it macerates.
We fill the jar up with vodka, making sure it covers the herb material by at least an inch. It often takes a day or so for the levels to settle as the herb absorbs the menstruum. Make sure to check back, and fill up a little more if needed. Next we shall label the jar with the herb used, the menstruum used, and the date it was started. Use some baking paper under the jar lid to make sure it is protected from any chemical residue that may be on the lid. Leave in a dark cupboard for 4-6 weeks to macerate. I often leave mine for a little longer to ensure a very potent tincture. Make sure to shake daily, as this ensures the herb constituents are drawn out into the menstruum, and creates an effective medicine. Once ready, strain and decant the tincture into dark glass bottles, making sure to label the date and contents so you don’t forget what it is later on. Your tincture will keep for around 3 years.
We can also make digestive bitters with dandelion. Taking a few drops or a spoonful of dandelion bitters 30 minutes before eating will aid the body in assimilating the nutrients in your food, and allow for better digestion. To make bitters, we can use the tincturing method above, but we will add some extras to it. Dandelion is a cooling, drying herb, so we want some warm herb in there too to aid digestion. I would use fennel seed and ginger to spice up the formula.
Contraindications - dandelion is generally safe but may not be suitable for those with kidney or gallbladder issues or on blood thinning mediation. As always, please do your own research before working with any herb that is new to you.