I love working at my herb field. There is plenty to do at this time of year, but while most horticulturalists are concentrating on ground preparation, sowing and weeding, I am harvesting. Or am I? I’m removing dandelion plants from rows of herbs. The distinction between weeding and harvesting has become blurred.
During the late summer, if I notice dandelions growing amongst the other herbs, I leave them to grow to a decent size before the following spring when they are harvested. I find that this system works better than unearthing pasture grown plants. The dandelions which grow in the nicely tilled soil of my field have longer and less branched roots and that makes cleaning them an easier job.
Most herbal roots are gathered in the autumn when the foliage is dying down but spring time is the time to gather dandelion roots. This is because the bitter principles in the roots are at their height in the spring and I want nice bitter roots.
Of all the tastes; sweet, sour, salty, hot, bitter and astringent; the bitter taste is the most pharmacologically active taste. When we sense a bitter taste on our tongue a chain reaction is set up throughout our digestive tract, stimulating and toning, encouraging our body to secrete more digestive enzymes and bile; and generally preparing our body to digest food. This is very useful as many people suffer from diminished digestive power leading to indigestion, bloating and auto-intoxication through the development of food intolerances and ‘leaky gut’.
Dandelion root contains bitter glycosides, triterpenoids and choline. It is very high in potassium making it useful for those on diuretic drugs which can cause a loss of potassium from the system. Dandelion is actually a very effective diuretic itself. Clever really as the loss of fluid from the body when using dandelion as a diuretic carries with it no danger of potassium depletion. I tend to use the leaves when I want to emphasise the diuretic action of this herb, and use the root to stimulate the liver and the digestion through its bitter principles. The herb is wonderful to gently encourage the liver to ‘wake up’ and help to re-establish a regular bowel habit if this has become disrupted. It is also a good herb to take in order to detoxify the system where an inappropriate diet and lifestyle has finally begun to cause health problems.
Once the roots are separated from the leaves they are washed and left to air dry before being put into the dehydrator. When they are properly dry they can be stored and used for tinctures, decoctions or powders as needed for individual prescriptions in the clinic.
To find out more about Myrobalan Clinic please visit www.myrobalanclinic.com