IT'S LIVER TIME!

The yellow flowers in full blossom are signalling us to pay attention to our liver energy and work on liver clearing. And look who is here to give us a helping hand - the mighty Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale or  Tarax  as us herbalists lovingly call it.
Whenever I think of Dandelion I think of my nephew and remember him as a baby (he's now 18 yrs old!) crawling around my Mum's garden picking Dandelion and munching them down. My sister wasn't too alarmed at all and my Mum calmly said "Ah.. well he probably needs them. He knows what's good for him!" He had had a challenging start in life spending his first 6 months in hospital undergoing numerous operations and with that had to cope with an onslaught of medications. He was nearly lost to us at one stage. So his wee liver was put under a lot of strain and Tarax may indeed have been exactly what he needed.
Seeing the happy faces of this so called weed popping up all along our Irish roadsides you cannot help but feel the sunny disposition it radiates. All parts of this plant are a valuable medicine.

The fully open flowers can be eaten fresh, made into 'champagne' or into an infused oil. I like to use Dandelion oil as a base for different herbal musculoskeletal oils I make for patients or simply have some in the kitchen to add to meals. I love observing that Dandelion flowers only fully open up when the sun is shining on them preferring to remain shy in dull cloudy weather.
Many people are familiar with putting Dandelion leaves in their salads, soups and wild pesto appreciating it's high nutritional value. The leaves contain numerous vital minerals including calcium, potassium and magnesium and vitamins A, B, C and D.               
Tincture and tea of the leaf are excellent for any fluid retention or medical conditions where kidney function needs assistance. For anyone that suffers from swollen ankles when they travel, during pregnancy or in general the diuretic action of Dandelion leaf tea or tincture is your go to remedy. Leaf tincture would often be included in herbal formulas I make for high blood pressure. The root is one of my favourite herbs for liver and digestive issues. Something I see a lot of in clinical practice. Despite the 250 plus different western herbal tradition, Ayurvedic and Chinese herbs I have to hand in our herbal dispensary, I must say, Tarax root is one of my top herbs for digestive conditions and supporting the liver. It promotes bile production and also bile release from the gallbladder. This helps relieve sluggish digestion, emulsification of fats and of course constipation. Dandelion is well known for its use in the treatment of hepatitis and jaundice. I have found it effective for skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema in clinic and also as part of herbal formulas for arthritis and gout. 
Seeing it's delicate feathery seed heads takes me back to New Zealand to an organic farm whose fields (much to the disgust of neighbouring farm) were more Dandilion flowers than grass. I had never seen such a spectacular  gathering of Dandelion. I remember wandering through those fields as massive plumes of Dandelion wishes danced around me tickling my face. It felt lovely to be so immersed in another aspect of Dandelions energy.
We love to let our children and animals graze on medicinal plants in the wild and in the garden. Always observing with great interest which plants they are drawn to at different times. As herbalists we believe that instinctively they understand far more than we do about the healing plants and 'weeds' around us.
But if you are hoping to use some Dandelion do be careful where you harvest from! If you wish to learn more about proper harvesting practices seek the expertise of a herbalist or forager and always refer to a good wildflower identification book. 
I spotted this glorious Tarax specimen blooming happily on a stone wall and couldn't pass it by without capturing it in a photograph. Its utter resilient nature and smiling sunny faces inspired me to share a little knowledge on this amazing healing plant.

About Ivywood

Herbalists Ross Hennessy and Marina Kesso have moved their businesses and family to a new piece of land in Co Clare. They are busy creating new spaces on the land to reestablish their clinical practice and medicinal herb nursery. Formerly Bareroot Botanicals and Iona Herbal they have now renamed the woodland and business Ivywood.

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