I have just harvested and tinctured my first herb of the year: the humble dandelion leaf (Taraxacum officinale folia). And I have a lovely tale to tell of one of my patients, last year, whose quality of life was transformed, in days, by this plant.
She is an 84-year-old woman, who came to see me with a number of health complaints, including “swollen legs”. Her legs, feet and ankles had retained so much fluid that she couldn’t get her shoes and boots on. She also had so much fluid retention around her midriff that she had difficulty bending down, which was particularly distressing for her as she loves gardening.
“I feel bloated and stout,” she said. “Puffed up and massively uncomfortable.” She was very indignant about her GP, who had told her that, at her age, she must expect her legs to swell a little during the summer months.
Instant ‘weight’ loss
My most immediate aim was to ease her discomfort, so I packed her first herbal prescription with dandelion leaf tincture. She emailed me three days later, saying: “The swelling in my legs and ankles is considerably reduced. Hooray and thank you!”
In just one week from when she started the dandelion leaf tincture, she had lost 4lbs in weight/retained fluid.
Together we went on to resolve her other health problems over the next few months. Which, incidentally, involved having her conventional medication reviewed and changed. The rapid relief from her oedema, through using herbal medicine, gave her the fortitude to insist that her GP conduct this review. She was fed up with being given the brush-off, especially once she knew there was a simple, and effective, alternative.
I always ensure my dispensary is well stocked with dandelion leaf (and root, actually, but that’s another story). It has many other therapeutic uses, as well as being a natural and potent diuretic.
One of the side effects of conventional diuretics (so-called “water tablets”), by the way, is that the body leaches potassium due to increased urination. This can be very dangerous, as potassium is vital for organ function, including the heart. Dandelion also increases urination, but neatly avoids the potassium loss crisis because its leaves are packed with potassium – so any loss is simply, and naturally, counteracted/replaced.
Take a bow, you little beauty!