If you have an achy back or inflammation from arthritis, dandelion oil may be able to help with pain control. When applied topically, it can reduce inflammation and joint pain. Although there hasn’t been much research to confirm the efficacy of dandelion as an anti-inflammatory, folks have been making and using this herbal remedy for a long time. When I’m looking for a gentle, safe way to help manage minor arthritis pain, especially in my hands, dandelion oil rates high on my list of remedies, and usually makes it to my spring “make it soon” to-do list.
Well, the dandelions are up, and this could be one year you’re harvesting them instead of cursing those yellow flowers dotting your lawn. Dandelion oil is a no-cook recipe that’s a good spring introduction to preparing homemade herbal remedies.
|Bowl of fresh dandelions|
Dandelion Oil Recipe
8 to 10 ounces of olive or avocado oil
*7 cups dandelion flowers
You will also need:
2 clean 12 oz. jars (I use the sanitize setting on my dishwasher, but you can also use hot soapy water.)
2 rubber bands (I like those small but mighty ones that often come with fresh asparagus or broccoli from the produce department of the local market.)
A stick or other implement for stirring
Cheesecloth (You’ll need a two-layer square for each jar large enough to cover the opening with a 2 inch overhang all around.)
Harvest dandelions in the morning when they’re full open.
Rinse them gently in cold water.
|Drying rinsed dandelions|
Spread them on a paper towel out of the sun to dry for a few hours.
Once the water has evaporated, tear half to all of the flowering heads in half. This helps the oil get deep into the petals. (You can tear them all if you want, but a few intact blooms look so pretty in the mix that I usually leave them. Although the flowers are eventually discarded, when the mixture is fresh, it looks like spring in a jar.)
Fill the two jars with blossoms, pressing hard to pack them tight.
|Pack the jar tight|
Slowly, fill each jar with oil, stopping halfway to stir the mixture to release trapped air bubbles.
Fill the jars to the top.
|I use a kabob skewer for stirring|
Stir again to remove as many bubbles as possible, making sure to submerge the top blooms.
|You can just see suspended bubbles. Gentle stirring will remove them.|
Cover the mouth of each jar with cheesecloth, and secure the cloth with a rubber band.
Place the jars in a sunny window, and let the mixture infuse for three weeks or so. (You’ll know when the oil is ready because the blossoms will lose their bright yellow color and turn tan to brownish. The oil itself will be bright gold to somewhat green-ish and have a flowery scent.
|Attached cheesecloth and place jars in a sunny window|
Strain the oil using a fine mesh strainer lined with a couple of layers of cheese cloth.
Store the bulk of the mixture in the refrigerator, but fill one or two small glass jars (1 oz. or so) to use at room temperature. Refill them as needed. (Recycled moisturizer jars or even sample jam jars are good for this.)
How to Use Dandelion Oil
**When your joints feel achy, or you know damp weather is on the way, apply a little oil to a cotton ball and rub on your knees, hands, neck, back or other affected area. Wipe off any excess. Store the container in a dark, somewhat cool location. (Don’t keep it in the sun or near heat.)
Safety and other info: Although dandelion is considered safe to eat, and generally safe in higher concentrations, there are some exceptions. It’s always a good idea to discuss starting any new treatment or medication with your physician. Because the effects of dandelion haven’t been tested extensively, using it is contraindicated if you are pregnant or nursing. It is not recommended if you are allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums and some other flower varieties, are diabetic or have gallbladder problems. It may also react with some medications, like some antibiotics, blood thinners, lithium and other drugs, especially those that are changed by the liver. You can find additional safety information about dandelion here:
- Dandelion Overview – University of Maryland Medical Center
- Dandelion Safety – WebMd
- Dandelion – Important Information from Drugs.com
Tips for Making and Using Dandelion Oil
*Harvest dandelions you know haven’t been treated with pesticide. This could be courtesy of your happily neglected backyard or another spot that’s in jeopardy of going native. I have plenty of dandelions for oil, tea and even dandelion jam. I don’t feel too guilty about growing these useful weeds, either. I harvest the heads before they have a chance to go to seed, and dig up most of my plants for the roots. My spring harvest every year is typically courtesy of unwitting neighbors sprouting crops in their tree lawns. Oh, there are cultivated varieties, too. You can read more about dandelions here: How to Grow Dandelion
I keep dandelion oil from season to season, so the oil I started today will last until next spring when I’ll toss any remainder and begin a new batch.
You can make half of the recipe. Although one jar looks like it will produce quite a bit of oil, you’ll only get 5 to 6 ounces or so. Once you realize how useful it can be, the oil goes pretty quickly, too.
Dandelions aren’t in flower long, so expect to make oil within two weeks of seeing blossoms.
If you have to hunt around to find enough flowers, you can keep snipped blossoms in a covered bowl in your fridge for a couple of days. They draw in somewhat, but just make sure you slice those blossoms to get the best oil exposure from them.
Dandelion oil can stain clothing, so use caution.
This oil may have other applications. I’ve read about it being used to treat acne, for instance. I haven’t used it for anything other than mild muscle and joint discomfort, though.
**I know there may not be a link between inflammation and the weather, but I do get achy when it’s damp, and the oil seems to help.