Dandelion flowers are not only heralds of spring but are also important food for bees. They can be infused in olive oil to make massage oil. Herbalist Susun Weed suggests dandelion flower oil for breast massage for relaxation and to promote breast health. Dandelion flowers are edible and make a cheerful addition to salads as well as being popular in dandelion fritters. The sepals are bitter so for a sweeter taste use only the yellow petals.
Dandelion leaves were probably the original salad course. Long ago people ate a handful of bitter greens at the beginning of the meal to promote better digestion. Dandelion leaves (and the spring dug root) are a digestive bitter which means they stimulate the whole digestive system---increasing the flow of saliva and gastric juices---to help the body process and assimilate food more effectively. Dandelion leaves and root are traditional for kidney support. They are diuretic but because the plant is rich in potassium it doesn't deplete the body's store of potassium as do many diuretics. Dandelion greens may be added to salads or cooked as you would any green. The young greens are less bitter than older ones. Dandelion leaves may be infused in vinegar (alone or in combination with the roots) to splash in beans or bone broth or to make a nutrient-rich base for salad dressing.
Dandelion root is one of the top traditional liver tonic herbs. It is also a traditional digestive support herb. Spring dug roots are considered the most effective for their digestive properties and fall dug for liver tonic properties. There are many ways to prepare it---infused in vinegar, tinctured or decocted. (A decoction involves simmering plant material in water for about 20 minutes and then straining off and retaining the liquid.) I drink dandelion root decoction on a semi-regular basis to nourish general health through liver support. So many chronic diseases have been tied back to poor liver function. Even some cancer patients have found they are able to have better quality of life using dandelion as a liver support tonic. Dandelion is rich in inulin which is considered a prebiotic. That is, it helps pave the way for beneficial bacteria in the gut.
All parts of dandelion are edible, although the stem is very bitter and not usually consumed. Even the stem has its use, however, as the latex sap inside has traditionally been used for wart removal. Dandelion is all around one of the most useful, widely available herbs in the world today. It's a pretty face and so much more.