If you have a dandelion-studded lawn, consider yourself lucky. This yellow-flowering perennial herb with long, deeply serrated leaves is the bane of a lawn caretaker’s existence, but it is actually good for your health.
In fact, dandelions have been used for centuries as an herbal treatment for many ailments, including kidney and liver problems, stomach issues and diabetes.
Dandelion roots, leaves and flowers are edible and highly nutritious. This herb is a rich source of vitamins A, C, D and B complex. It is even rich in minerals, such as zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium.
This herb is versatile and can be easily incorporated into your daily diet. The mild, bitter flavor of dandelion leaves goes well with salads, soups or stir-fry dishes. You can also brew roasted dandelion roots to enjoy a healthy substitute for tea or coffee.
To make dandelion tea:
- Put 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried dandelion root (chopped) in a saucepan.
- Add 2 cups of water.
- Boil it and then allow it to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Strain it.
- Drink this tea 2 or 3 times a day.
You can also make the tea using dandelion tea bags.
No matter how you prefer to use dandelion in your diet, you are surely going to reap the benefits of this unexpected nutritional plant.
Note: Do not use this herb during pregnancy.
Here are 10 reasons why dandelion root is good for your body.
1. Aids Weight Loss
Dandelion root is highly beneficial for people who wish to shed some pounds.
The phytochemicals in dandelion offer diuretic and laxative benefits that help increase the volume and frequency of urination. This in turn helps get rid of water weight.
A 2009 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reports that dandelion extract increases urination output for five hours after consumption. This helps shed water weight but not the fat.
Plus, dandelion root is known to suppress appetite and promote fat and cholesterol breakdown. It also has very few calories.
- Drink dandelion tea, 2 or 3 times a day.
- You can also add fresh dandelion greens to salads or soups.
Note: Do not take this herb for extended periods. Also, as it may interact with certain medications, consult your doctor before using it.
2. Promotes Liver Health
The herb dandelion works as a powerful liver tonic and hence is considered very effective for liver health. It helps metabolize fat accumulated in the liver and promotes proper liver function.
It also increases the flow of bile and helps detoxify the liver.
A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2010 highlights the therapeutic effect of dandelion root on hepatic disorders.
Another study published in the same year in Food and Chemical Toxicology demonstrates the hepatoprotective effects of the aqueous extract from dandelion root against alcohol-induced oxidative stress.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food highlights the hepatoprotective effect of dandelion against the toxicity induced by acetaminophen, which is attributed to several cases of hepatitis, cirrhosis and hepatic transplant.
Also, a 2013 study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology found that dandelion leaf extract helps in the prevention and treatment of obesity-related nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
3. Possesses Anticancer Properties
In recent times, dandelion root has been studied for its cancer-fighting potential. Its antioxidant property helps the body avoid cell damage from free radicals. In fact, it is effective in killing different cancers as a result of its free radical-fighting abilities.
A 2008 study published in the International Journal of Oncology reports that dandelion root extracts or individual components present in the extracts may be of value as novel anticancer agents.
A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2011 suggests that aqueous dandelion root extract contains components that act to induce apoptosis selectively in cultured leukemia cells. This study emphasizes the importance of this traditional medicine for leukemia treatment.
Another same year study published in Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine highlights the efficacy of dandelion root extract as a chemotherapeutic against aggressive chemo-resistant cancers.
In fact, another study published in 2012 in Pancreas reports that dandelion root extract has the potential to induce apoptosis and autophagy in human pancreatic cancer cells with no significant effect on noncancerous cells.
4. Regulates High Blood Pressure
Being diuretic in nature, dandelion increases urination, both in quantity and frequency. Excess urination aids in releasing excess sodium without the loss of potassium (as occurs with some over-the-counter diuretics). This in turn helps lower high blood pressure.
The herb dandelion is also rich in fiber and potassium, which help in regulating blood pressure. The fiber in dandelion is also helpful in reducing cholesterol, which in turn assists in lowering blood pressure, since cholesterol is one of the factors that increases blood pressure.
A 2010 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Science shows that treatment with dandelion root and leaf positively changed plasma antioxidant enzyme activities and lipid profiles in cholesterol-fed rabbits, and thus it may have potential hypolipidemic and antioxidant effects.
When the blood pressure and cholesterol levels are under control, there is reduced risk of suffering from heart disease.
5. Prevents Urinary Disorders
Being highly diuretic in nature, dandelion root also helps eliminate deposits of toxic substances in the kidneys and the urinary tract.
According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, dandelion works as a diuretic and increases urine production. Proper urinary output helps cleanse the kidneys.
In addition, the disinfectant properties of this herb inhibit microbial growth in the urinary tract. This in turn aids in reducing and preventing the risk of urinary tract infections.
It is also effective at reducing bladder disorders.
6. Helps Control Diabetes
The herb dandelion can also help diabetic patients. It stimulates the production of insulin from the pancreas, which in turn keeps the blood sugar level under control.
Plus, dandelion’s diuretic properties help increase urination, which aids in removing excess sugar from the body.
A 2001 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology reports that treatment with an extract containing dandelion aids in lowering blood sugar in diabetic mice. However, more scientific evidence is needed to support this claim.
Diabetic people are also more prone to kidney and liver problems, and dandelion root helps keep the kidneys and liver healthy.
7. Soothes the Digestive System
Dandelion roots, leaves and flowers are edible and can be used to improve digestive health.
This herb also acts as a mild laxative to promote digestion, stimulate appetite, and balance the natural and beneficial bacteria in the intestines. It can increase the release of stomach acid and bile to aid digestion, especially of fats.
It also increases pressure within the stomach and relaxes the muscular sphincter between the stomach and the small intestine. This aids in proper digestion of food.
In a 2011 animal study published in Neurogastroenterology and Motility, researchers found that dandelion increased gastric motility by as much as 37 percent as compared to a control group that did not receive dandelion.
In addition, its high fiber content reduces as well as prevents constipation.
8. Fights Swelling and Inflammation
The diuretic property of dandelion aids in metabolizing extra fluids, making it a great remedy for common swelling and inflammation in the body. In fact, it is a great herb for treating water retention in the lower extremities, such as the legs.
It also has potassium, which helps balance out sodium in the body. This in turn helps reduce swelling and inflammation due to edema or water retention.
To fight swelling, drink dandelion tea 2 or 3 times a day until the swelling is gone.
Note: Avoid dandelion if you have gallbladder problems.
9. Improves Skin Health
The rich skin-supporting nutrients in dandelion help in maintaining skin health and preventing skin problems.
The milky white substance that comes out after you break a dandelion stem is highly beneficial for skin health. The sap of a dandelion stem is highly alkaline in nature. Plus, it contains germicidal, insecticidal and fungicidal properties.
This sap can be applied directly on the skin to treat itching, ringworm, eczema and other skin conditions.
A 2012 study published in Peptides reports that there are three novel peptides in dandelion flowers that display high antimicrobial activity both against fungal and bacterial pathogens in laboratory conditions.
Plus, being an excellent detoxifier, diuretic and antioxidant, it is even effective for the treatment of acne.
Note: You should be careful while using this sap, and avoid any contact with the eyes.
10. Improves Bone Health
Dandelion is rich in antioxidants that help protect bones from age-related damage, which includes bone frailty, weakness and decreased density.
It also contains calcium, which is important for the growth and strength of bones and, in fact, calcium deficiency is linked to weak bones.
By drinking dandelion tea or eating the greens, you can easily avoid weak bones as well as tooth decay.
Also, the vitamin K in dandelion plays an important role in bone health. This vitamin is involved in bone mineralization, which in turn reduces the risk of bone fractures, especially in postmenopausal women who are at risk for osteoporosis.