Breastfeeding has long been known to be good for mother and baby. La Leche League International lists many benefits, including that breast-milk is easy for the baby to digest, and has natural antibodies protecting the baby against bacteria and viruses. Now a new study by the University of Pittsburgh has shown that breastfeeding protects women from heart disease, heart attacks and strokes as well.
Published in the May issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the study finds that if a woman breastfeeds for one year or more, she is ten percent less likely to have heart attacks, heart disease or strokes. Dr. Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh and author of the study says, “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, so it’s vitally important for us to know what we can do to protect ourselves.”
The study found that even one month of breastfeeding lowers the rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, all of which lead to heart disease. Yet Dr. Swartz points out, “The longer a mother nurses her baby, the better for both of them.”
Dandelion is excellent to promote lactation. Herbalist Susun Weed recommends women begin taking dandelion - either by eating the leaves, drinking the root tea, or as a tincture - the last two months of pregnancy and throughout the time they are breastfeeding.
Dandelion, thought of as a weed to most people, is blooming everywhere this time of year. There are many ways to use dandelion to benefit from it…whether trying to promote lactation, cleanse the liver, or just adding more nutrition to your diet.
The yellow flowers are like sunbursts, atop hollow, smooth stalks. The leaves - which are elongated and toothed - stay in their basal rosettes on the ground.
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In the early spring or fall, when flowers are not present, the leaves are the least bitter and can be eaten. The long taproot can also be harvested at those time, and chopped and dried to be boiled into tea, or roasted and ground into a coffee substitute.
Once the flower blooms the leaves become very bitter and are unpalatable to most people. But the flowers are delicious!
Once collected, use right away or the flowers will close and become downy fluff. Pluck the yellow petals off the green collar and stem (which are very bitter.) The petals can be added to salads, sprinkled on soups or stir fries, or even mixed into batter for pancakes or cookies.
The flowers can also be steeped in apple cider vinegar for a few weeks, and then the vinegar can be used on salad. (See our video on mugwort, which includes making mugwort vinegar, and make the dandelion vinegar the same way using dandelion flowers instead of mugwort leaves.) And of course, many people love to make dandelion wine with all the abundant blossoms!
For Another Great Recipe, check out this blog post: Dandelion Flowers Raw-Food-Cookie