My absolute favourite winter beverage - dandelion tea! So very underrated and untried by most people.
Dandelion tea is made from the roasted root of the Taraxacum officinalis (dandelion) plant. Dandelion contains high levels of vitamin A (more than carrots), vitamin C, calcium and inulin. In herbal medicine, dandelion is recognised for it's notable therapeutic actions on the liver and digestive system.
Dandelion is a 'bitter' herb which refers to its bitter taste and subsequent ability to stimulate the vagus nerve. Stimulation of the vagus nerve activates digestion, promoting peristalsis and digestive juices such as stomach acid, pancreatic enzymes and bile.
I like to think of dandelion tea as 'a cuddle for the liver'. It works by increasing production of bile and increasing the release of stored bile by the gallbladder. All this acts as a wonderful liver support and detoxification aid. The liver is the second largest organ in the body (behind the skin). I still remember holding a liver during a wet lab trip and being utterly gobsmacked at how massive and heavy it was. The liver performs over 200 functions so dandelion is a great way to nourish and support liver activity.
Dandelion is also known for it's lively diuretic action aka, it makes you pee! This helps to support kidney health and may assist in lowering blood pressure and high cholesterol. For those who have a tendency to retain water weight, the urine promoting effects of dandelion may assist in reducing fluid retention.
As a beverage, dandelion tea is an extremely dark, bitter drink which makes it a great substitute for coffee or black tea. It tastes great with milk or honey and most companies make it in a teabag option so it's quick to whip up. I'd recommend Bonvit's dandelion products as they don't contain added fructose or glucose which some companies occasionally sneak in.
Note: my husband doesn't like tea. He describes it as 'smelly water without flavour'. But he has recently been converted to dandelion tea so we must be on to something good!
Bone, K 2010, The Ultimate Herbal Compendium, Phytotherapy Press, Warwick, Queensland
Hectman, L 2013, Clinical Naturopathic Medicine, Elsevier Health Sciences, Chatswood, NSW
The Leaf Lady 2011 <http://www.leaflady.org/health_benefits_of_dandelions.htm>