Wanted Weeds Part 1: The Dandelion
The dandelion sure gets a bad rap in suburbia. The other day I caught my neighbor using a leaf blower to blow the puff balls off the dandelions in my yard so they wouldn’t blow into his perfectly groomed lawn. Lawn care companies and homeowners with green grass seem to have quite the vendetta against this “weed”. If they only knew how helpful this amazing plant is they wouldn’t waste so much effort trying to eradicate it from their yards.
The Chinese name for dandelion is Pu Gong Ying. It is commonly called dandelion or taraxicum (Herba Taraxaci). In Chinese medicine we place this herb in the category “Clear Heat, Eliminate Toxins”. We use it both internally and externally. Pu Gong Ying has antibacterial properties and reduces inflammation in the skin. We use it for sores, lesions, ulcerations and red rashes on the skin. It is also great for pus-filled abscesses when combined with other herbs. It is quite helpful to relive sore throat, too. In my clinical practice, I add Pu Gong Ying to almost every formula for acne (esp. cystic acne).
When we utilize herbs in Chinese medicine we usually boil them or extract them in alcohol (or other solvent) to bring out their medicinal properties. But dandelion can be used fresh from the ground. Rinse the green part of the plant and then crush it up (using a mortar and pestle or even a Cuisinart food processor). Mix it with a little water or olive oil and make it into a paste. The paste can then be applied directly to the skin to ease the discomfort of red rashes, sores, and insect bites. It can even help cool sunburn or reduce the size of warts.
So the next time you are weeding your garden or mowing your lawn, think about the wonderful medicinal properties of the dandelion. If you get a rash from pulling other weeds, this weed can come to your skin’s rescue!
Publish Date: June 3, 2010 *Articles may include updates since original publishing.