Dandelion is more than just a pesky weed in your lawn or garden; dandelion root and leaves offer rejuvenating health benefits for the body. Find out what they are here.
The Health Benefits of Dandelion Root and Leaf
Health Benefits of the Common Dandelion Plant
What’s better than a plant that gives wishes when you puff its fluff? A plant that provides health benefits! Dandelion is excellent food and medicine!
Dandelion is most often thought of as a pesky weed that takes over our lawns and gardens.
They overwhelm meadows, soccer fields, and are the bane of golf courses. They even pop up in cracked sidewalks and pavement.
Dandelion is invasive and pervasive. Lucky for us, it’s also excellent food and herbal medicine anyone can find, grow, and put to use.
It has been used in traditional Chinese healing for breast concerns, appendicitis, and stomach problems. Native Americans boil and drink dandelion extract to help treat digestion problems, skin ailments, inflammation, liver injury, kidney disease, and heartburn.
Early Europeans used it to remedy diabetes, high fever, and diarrhea.
Dandelion is a very rich source of beta-carotene which we convert into vitamin A. This flowering plant is also rich in vitamin C, fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus.
It’s a good place to get B complex vitamins, trace minerals, organic sodium, and even some vitamin D, too. Dandelion also contains protein, more than spinach.
How to Pick Dandelion Root and Leaves
It has been eaten for thousands of years as food and medicine to help treat anemia, scurvy, skin problems, blood disorders, and depression.
If you collect them wild, try to choose ones you know have not been subjected to pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals. The ones in your lawn are not usually the best.
Instead, pick them from a mountain meadow or abandoned lot.
You can buy seeds or gather them from the familiar puff balls you see each summer. Seeds grow readily in your garden, planter boxes, or pots.
Dandelion leaves are also found fresh in some health food markets or as a freeze-dried herb. Dandelion tea, capsules, and tinctures are also available.
Dandelion Root and Leaves: How Do They Keep the Body Healthy?
1. Promotes and Stimulates Digestion
Dandelion acts as a mild laxative that promotes digestion, stimulates appetite, and balances the natural and beneficial bacteria in the intestines. It can increase the release of stomach acid and bile to aid digestion, especially of fats.
2. Prevents Water Retention in the Kidneys
This weed-like superfood is a natural diuretic, which helps the kidneys clear out waste, salt, and excess water by increasing urine production and frequency of urination.
In French, it is called pissenlit, which roughly translates to ‘wet the bed.’ This inhibits microbial growth in the urinary system and prevents urinary tract infections.
Dandelion also replaces some of the potassium lost in the process.
In a study conducted in 2009, high-quality fresh dandelion leaf hydroethanolic extract was given to volunteer subjects. Results showed that the urine output and frequency increased in the two out of three instances dandelion extract was ingested.
3. Detoxifies the Liver
Dandelion has been shown to improve hepatic function by detoxifying the liver and reestablishing hydration and electrolyte balance. It also increases the production and release of bile.
A laboratory study on mice showed this medicinal plant’s ability to slow down the progress of carbon tetrachloride-induced liver fibrosis or scarring.
4. Boosts Antioxidant Activity
Every part of the dandelion plant is rich in antioxidants, which prevents free radicals from damaging cells and DNA, slowing down the aging process in our cells. It is rich in vitamin C and vitamin A as beta-carotene and increases the liver’s production of superoxide dismutase.
What is superoxide dismutase? This is an enzyme that speeds up or catalyzes the breakdown of the oxidative stress-causing superoxide by-product.
5. Has Been Used In Cancer Research
The leaves are especially rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients which combat cancer. Dandelion root extract, on the same note, has shown its ability to induce apoptosis or cell death in prostate and pancreatic cells.
6. Helps Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
Recent animal studies show dandelion helps regulate blood sugar and insulin levels. Most of this is done through its ability to control lipid levels and stimulate the pancreatic cells to produce more insulin when needed.
7. Aids in the Management of High Blood Pressure
As a natural diuretic, dandelion increases urination which then lowers blood pressure. The fiber and potassium in dandelion also help regulate blood pressure.
8. Reduces Cholesterol Levels
Animal studies have shown how dandelion lowers and controls cholesterol levels while improving cholesterol ratios by raising HDL.
9. Protects the Gallbladder
Dandelion increases bile production and reduces inflammation to help with gallbladder problems and blockages.
10. Fights Inflammation with Its Antioxidant Properties
Dandelion contains essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that all reduce inflammation throughout the body. These can relieve pain and swelling.
11. Boosts the Immune System
12. Prevents UVB Damage on the Skin at the Cellular Level
A study published in 2015 on the journal of Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity made the following conclusions :
- Dandelion extracts prepared from dandelion root, leaves, and flowers protect the skin cells from UVB-induced cell death.
- Dandelion flower and leaf extract can help with UVB-related oxidative stress.
- Dandelion leaf extract protects the skin from free radical-induced aging.
- Dandelion leaf extract absorbs UV radiation better than dandelion flower extract.
How to Use Dandelion Root, Leaves, and Flowers for Health
Dandelion leaves, flowers, and roots are all edible. They have a slightly bitter flavor that can be minimized by harvesting them in the fall or spring.
The young leaves are more tender and less bitter, making a great addition to raw salads. Cooking dandelion cuts the bitter flavor of both the leaves and the roots.
You can start by drinking a cup of dandelion root coffee or roasted dandelion root a day to give your body time to adjust. Then, increase your intake to two to three cups a day.
Dandelion Root Dosage
There is no approved recommended dosage for dandelion extract in the U.S., but there are recommended daily dosages in Europe:
- Dried dandelion extract – .75-1 g
- Fresh dandelion root – 2-8 g
- Fresh root extract – 1-2 tbsp
- Dandelion tea infusion – 1 tbsp chopped root soaked in ½ cup of hot water for 20 mins.
- Dandelion root powder – 3-4 g powder dissolved in ½ cup of hot water
How to Make Dandelion Root Extract
Get dandelion root and leaves from a health food store or a reputable source, preferably organic.
Soak your dandelion leaves and roots in water for a few minutes, then rinse. Cut them into small bits.
Roast for an hour at 200° F for 60 minutes to make roasted dandelion roots and leaves. Cool them down before storing in an airtight container.
When you’re ready to drink, just take a few teaspoons and add to hot water. Enjoy your dandelion root coffee or tea!
Dandelion Allergy Warning
Dandelion is generally considered safe in food and medicinal levels. Some people may have allergic reactions to dandelion.
Anyone with an allergy to ragweed, chrysanthemum, marigold, chamomile, yarrow, or daisy should avoid dandelion, and anyone pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs should talk to a health care professional before adding something new to their diet.
Dandelion Extract Drug Interactions
Because dandelion extract goes through the blood, liver, and kidneys when ingested, it may interact and cause changes in the prescribed effects of some drugs:
- Blood pressure medications
- Hormone pills
- Other herbal medicines
Consult your physician before making changes to your medicine intake or before drinking dandelion extract.
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Dandelions are more than just pesky weeds, as presented above. Whether you’re taking dandelion root tincture, tea, or roasted coffee, it can greatly benefit your health.
Do note, however, the plant’s recommended intake dosages, allergy warnings, drug interactions, and effects before taking it in any form. As with everything else, consult your doctor.