After a long winter of heavy foods, dandelions are a welcome sight. The leaves make for delicious fresh spring salads, and the flowers make a tasty dandelion wine. Dandelion roots are where the real medicine lies, and a dandelion tincture can preserve the herb for use year round.
What is Dandelion Root Tincture Used for?
Dandelion is a well known digestive herb, and a few drops can be taken before meals to prevent gas and after meals for heartburn. It’s also known as a cleansing herb, that supports healthy liver and kidney function. The same cleansing action is used as a blood purifier, that can help reduce blood cholesterol.
As a gentle diuretic, dandelion tincture is used as a treatment for UTIs and water retention.
Herbalists also prescribe dandelion tincture to promote healthy clear skin. Traditionally, it’s also been used to help build energy and endurance, which can be helpful after a long winter indoors.
According to the herbalist Julie Bruton-Seal, dandelion tincture is used for:
- Skin Problems
- Sluggish Liver
- Urinary Problems
- Fluid Retention
- Chronic Illness
Dandelion Tincture Dosage
The book Backyard Medicine offers detailed recommendations for dandelion tincture dosage:
- General Health Maintenence ~ 1/2 teaspoon twice daily.
- Acute Skin Eruptions ~ 10 drops in water frequently throughout the day.
- Arthritis, gout, eczema, psoriasis & liver trouble ~ 1 teaspoon 3 times a day in water.
- Indigestion ~ 10 drops in water every hour until resolved.
How to Make Dandelion Tincture
While you can make a whole herb dandelion tincture, I like to save the leaves for spring salads and eat them directly. The roots are tougher and are best used as a tincture. Ideally, harvest dandelion roots in the early spring, before the plants have sent up their flowers. The dandelion plant calls on energy and nutrient reserves in the roots to form a flower, so it’s best to harvest the root while those nutrients are still in place.
If you’ve missed the season, you can buy dried dandelion root online.
Start by digging the dandelion roots. As soon as the snow melts off and temperatures warm up, dandelion rosettes pop up everywhere. Just keep your eyes open, and you’ll find them all over. The leaves green up before lawn grass, so they can be easy to spot even on a lawn. The garden is a great place to look since you’ll likely be hoeing them out later.
In light or sandy soil, you can pull the dandelion roots directly. If you have tough clay soil like we do, then you’ll need a trowel or spade to dig them out. Once you have a good-sized handful, bring them inside for washing and chopping.
At this point, you can just chop the whole plants, leaves and all, or you can save the leaves for salads and just use the roots. If you’re harvesting them in the very early spring, the leaves are still tender and perfect for fresh eating. These make young dandelion leaves make the very best salads, and it seems a shame to waste them in a tincture. Either way, it’s up to you.
I’ve removed the leaves and saved just the cleaned roots for my tincture.
Chop the dandelion roots into small pieces. This increases their surface area and will allow the alcohol to do a better job extracting nutrients and medicinal constituents from the roots.
Pack the chopped roots into a mason jar, and cover with alcohol. Ideally, the jar is about 2/3 full of fresh roots, and then it’s filled to within an inch of the top with vodka. I like to use Smirnoff for my homemade tinctures because it’s relatively cheap, but not so cheap that the tincture is hard to take. For your own use, choose the cheapest vodka that you’d voluntarily drink.
Allow the tincture to infuse in a cool dark place, giving it a shake anytime you remember. The dandelion root tincture needs at least a month to infuse, but ideally, 2-3 months to gain full potency. If you need the tincture sooner than that, you can buy prepared dandelion tincture online to tide you over while your own dandelion tincture is infusing.
Once the tincture is finished, strain it through a fine mesh strainer, and store the tincture in amber dropper bottles.