The Latin name for dandelions, Taraxacum officinale, literally means “disorder remedy”. Dandelions leaves and roots are one of the most effective detoxifying herbs, especially for supporting liver health. The leaves are a good diuretic, removing excess fluids, but not deplete the body of potassium, and helping to relieve joint pain, reduce uric acid, reduce cholesterol, assist in the treatment of high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. Dandelion also flushes bacteria from the bladder, and assists in treatment of yeast infections. The roots reduce inflammation and help balance enzymes for better digestion. The flowers contain luteolin, an antioxidant. The dandelion seeds contain an antibiotic that is a great treatment for lung infections. Dandelion tea can be misted onto your birds to sooth skin irritation and itchyness.
If you have a yard that you have not used chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides on in the past few years, and you have dandelions already growing, consider yourself lucky, and start harvesting them for your parrot. The whole plant can be picked (or pulled), washed well to remove all dirt, and offered to your parrot whole, or mixed into their fresh chopped salad, used in place of any other fresh green in a cooked mash or birdie bread, or juiced with other veggies and fruits for a healthful and refreshing drink.
For those of you who have treated lawns or live in a community that regulates what you grow in your yard, consider growing some in a container garden, you can disguise them by mixing them with other greens, herbs and edible flowers. You will need to find a friend with and untreated yard who will let you dig up a few young plants to start with. Please be aware that many of the seed companies are now selling seeds for “Italian Dandelion” but this is actually chicory, a plant with leaves similar in appearance to dandelion and with a much milder less bitter taste, but without the benefits of true dandelions.