Medicinal dandelion - a useful weed
Dandelion is familiar to everyone. One of the first summer flowers, it covers with a bright yellow blanket meadows, clearings, roadsides and city courtyards. Having noticed it, gardeners are in a hurry to get rid of them like a malicious weed, and few people know about its benefits. Meanwhile, the ancient Greeks knew about the medicinal properties of this bright plant; in ancient Arabic medicine, dandelion was used widely and varied. In Chinese traditional medicine, all parts of the plant are still used as an antipyretic and restorative. In folk medicine of Russia, dandelion was considered a "vital elixir."
Dandelion (Taraxacum) is a genus of perennial herbaceous plants of the Asteraceae family. Genus species type - Medicinal dandelionor Field Dandelion, or Pharmaceutical Dandelion, or Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale).
The Russian name "dandelion", it is not difficult to guess, comes from the verb form "blow", the meaning of which is similar to "blow". So the name reflects the peculiarity of the dandelion - there is enough of a weak blow of the breeze and the parachute-fluffs quickly leave their basket.
Probably, for the same reason, the scientific name of the genus ‘Taraxacum’ came from the Greek word tarache - “excitement”.
There is also a medical version of the Latin name for dandelion, according to which Taraxacum comes from the Greek word taraxis (“shaking”): that is how doctors in the Middle Ages called one of the eye diseases that was treated with dandelion milky juice. From this name of the disease of the name, the expression "goggle" is still preserved in the people.
Popular names for dandelion: hollow, kulbaba, guns, puff, milk jug, cot, balm, popova baldness, Jewish hat, milk stall, tooth root, greydun, milkweed, cotton grass, oil flower, cow flower, March bush, milky color, light, airy flower and others
Description of dandelion officinalis
The most beloved and common dandelion in Russia is Medicinal dandelion.
Medicinal dandelion - a perennial herb of the aster family, has a thick rod-shaped branchy root that almost vertically goes into the earth and reaches a length of 50 cm.On the whitish surface of the root under the magnifying glass you can notice milky passage belts in the form of dark rings. Leaves in the basal rosette are plagiform-pinnately dissected. Their size depends on the place where the dandelion grows.
On dry soils under bright sunshine, the leaves of a dandelion are no more than 15-20 cm long, and in ditches where the shade is wet and they often grow three times longer. If you look closely at the leaf of the plant, you will notice that something like a groove runs through its middle. It turns out that these grooves collect moisture, including nightly, and direct it in streams to the root.
The flower stalk (arrow) of the dandelion is thick, leafless, cylindrical, duube, at the top carries one yellow-golden head, which is not a single flower, but a whole basket of them. Each flower has the form of a tube with five fused petals and five stamens adhered to them.
Dandelion basket-inflorescences behave differently during the day and depending on the weather. In the afternoon and in wet weather, they close, protecting the pollen from getting wet. In clear weather, inflorescences open at 6 a.m. and close at 3 p.m. Thus, according to the state of dandelion inflorescences, you can quite accurately find out the time.
The fruits of the dandelion are weightless, dry achenes attached by a long thin rod to the parachute cannons, which are easily blown away by the wind. It is interesting that parachutists fulfill their purpose precisely: when flying, the seeds of the dandelion do not swing and do not turn over, they are always down, and when landing, they are ready for sowing.
Minimum temperature of germination of achenes + 2 ... + 4 ° С. Dandelion seedlings and shoots from the buds on the root neck appear in late April and during the summer. Summer shoots overwinter. It blooms in May and June. The maximum fecundity of the plant is 12 thousand seeds, which sprout from a depth of not more than 4 ... 5 cm.
Dandelion easily adapts to environmental conditions and survives safely by enduring trampling and grazing. No other plants can drown and squeeze it!
The use of dandelion in everyday life
Drinks and jam are prepared from dandelion inflorescences, to the taste reminiscent of natural honey. Europeans pickle dandelion buds and use them as such in salads and soups instead of capers. And in Russia there were once salad varieties of dandelions. They differed from wild species in larger and softer leaves.
Dandelion honey is golden yellow in color, very thick, viscous, rapidly crystallizing, with a strong odor and a pungent taste. Dandelion honey contains 35.64% glucose and 41.5% fructose. However, bees collect nectar from a dandelion in a small amount and not always.
Inflorescences and leaves contain carotenoids: taraxanthin, flavoxanthin, lutein, faradiol, as well as ascorbic acid, vitamins B1, IN2, R. In the roots of the plant found: taraxerol, taraxol, taraxasterol, as well as styrene; up to 24% inulin, up to 2-3% rubber (before and after the Great Patriotic War, two types of dandelions were bred as rubber noses); fatty oil, which contains glycerins of palimitic, oleic, lenoleic, melis and cerotinic acids.
Dandelion roots belong to inulin-bearing plants, so when roasted they can serve as a substitute for coffee. This also includes tubers of earthen pear, chicory roots, elecampane roots.
Useful properties of dandelion
Dandelion has a choleretic, antipyretic, laxative, expectorant, calming, antispasmodic and mild hypnotic effect.
Water extract of dandelion roots and leaves improves digestion, appetite and general metabolism, enhances milk production in lactating women, and increases the overall tone of the body. Due to the presence of biologically active substances, food pulp from dandelion passes through the intestine faster, and this helps to reduce fermentation processes in colitis.
Experimentally, in the chemical-pharmacological study of dandelion, the antituberculous, antiviral, fungicidal, anthelmintic, anticarcinogenic and antidiabetic properties were confirmed. Dandelion is recommended for diabetes, as a tonic for general weakness, for the treatment of anemia.
The powder from the dried roots of dandelion is used to enhance the excretion of harmful substances from the body with sweat and urine, as an anti-sclerotic agent, for gout, rheumatism.
In modern medicine, the roots and grass of dandelion are used as bitterness to stimulate appetite with anorexia of various etiologies and with anacid gastritis to increase the secretion of digestive glands. It is also recommended to use as a choleretic agent. Dandelion is also used in cosmetics - milky juice reduces freckles, warts, age spots. A decoction of the roots of dandelion and burdock, taken in equal proportions, treat eczema.
The roots of dandelion are rod, fleshy, serve as a place of accumulation of nutrients. Raw materials are harvested in the spring, at the beginning of plant growth (April - early May), or in autumn (September-October). The roots of the dandelion summer collection unsuitable for use - they give low-quality raw materials. When harvesting, the roots are dug out manually with a shovel or pitchfork. On dense soils, the roots are much thinner than on loose soils. Repeated harvesting at the same place is carried out no more often than after 2-3 years.
The dug up roots of a dandelion are shaken off the ground, remove the aerial part and thin lateral roots and immediately washed in cold water. Then they dry them in the open air for several days (until the cessation of the release of milky juice with an incision).
Drying is usual: in attics or in a room with good ventilation, but best of all in a heat dryer heated to 40-50 ° C. I lay out the raw materials in a layer of 3-5 cm and periodically turn it over. The end of drying is determined by the fragility of the roots. The yield of dry raw materials is 33-35% by weight of freshly collected. Shelf life up to 5 years.