Dandelion Extract Guide
Dandelion Extract is a medicinal extract that comes from dandelion. Yes, that annoying weed in your garden has actually been linked to some genuine health benefits. Here’s our dandelion extract guide.
What is Dandelion Extract?
Dandelion Extract comes from the same dandelion that grows as a weed in your garden. The official name of the dandelion is Taraxacum officinale.
When it grows as a weed, dandelion may be a big nuisance. But the plant is actually filled with vitamins A, B, C, and D along with valuable minerals like iron, potassium, and zinc.
The plant is also flavorful: today, it’s being used to add flavor to salads and sandwiches, for example. Some people even make dandelion tea.
All parts of the plant can be used for different purposes. Dandelion roots, for example, are used in some coffee substitutes. Dandelion flowers are used to make wine.
Dandelion can be found in most northern climates and grows wildly and naturally throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. There are hundreds of different species of dandelion across these regions. The perennial plant can grow as high as 12 inches.
The dandelion flower itself opens when exposed to the sun in the morning and then closes in the evening or during gloomy weather. Meanwhile, other parts of the flower, like the roots, are fleshy, brittle, and filled with a smelly, white, milk-like substance.
Across different cultures and centuries, dandelion has gone by a few different names, including Lion’s tooth, Priest’s crown, and Swine’s stout.
How to Use Dandelion Extract
Dandelions have recently become more popular in the natural health community. However, modern people are hardly the first to use dandelions for their medicinal purposes.
Native Americans, for example, traditionally used dandelion to treat kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and stomach problems. They would boil dandelion in water and drink it as a rudimentary tea.
There are also ancient Chinese records that indicate the use of dandelion for thousands of years. In traditional Chinese medicine, dandelion was used to treat everything from digestive problems to breast problems to appendicitis.
In Europe, dandelion was also used as a topical remedy for problems like boils, or was taken orally to treat fever, diabetes, and diarrhea.
How Does Dandelion Work?
Dandelion works in a few different ways, depending on the part of the plant you’re using.
Dandelion leaves, for example, primarily work by acting as a diuretic, which means they increase the amount of urine your body makes.
Meanwhile, dandelion flowers have antioxidant properties (thanks to their high levels of well-known antioxidants like vitamins A and C). Dandelion flower also helps to improve the immune system.
Finally, dandelion roots – although not as commonly used as the flowers – have been shown to detoxify the liver and gallbladder. They’re often used in conjunction with dandelion leaves, which have been shown to improve kidney functionality.
Benefits of Dandelion Extract
One of the main problems with dandelion extract is that it hasn’t been extensively studied by reputable scientific organizations or peer-reviewed groups.
To date, most dandelion extract studies have been performed on animals – not people.
The scientific community widely accepts the use of dandelion extract as a diuretic – but only in animals. The University of Maryland Medical Center, for example, has the following to say about the diuretic uses of dandelion extract:
“Traditionally, dandelion has been used as a diuretic, to increase the amount of urine and eliminate fluid in your body. It has been used for many conditions where a diuretic might help, such as liver problems and high blood pressure. However, there is no good research on using dandelion as a diuretic in people.”
In other words, it may or may not be effective in humans – we just don’t know.
UMM goes on to say that “fresh or dried dandelion herb is also used as a mild appetite stimulant, and to improve upset stomach.” The plant can also be used as a laxative or as a general way to improve digestion.
In summary, the uses for dandelion extract include:
— Natural Diuretic (encourages the body to release more urine)
— Improves Liver And Gallbladder Functionality
— Acts As A Mild Appetite Stimulant
— Reduces Symptoms Of An Upset Stomach
— Improves Digestion
— May Reduce Inflammation
— Helps normalize blood sugar levels while also helping to maintain healthier cholesterol balance (this effect was only observed in one study on diabetic mice)
Take all of these benefits with a grain of salt: there’s limited scientific evidence for any of the above benefits – especially when you’re looking at the benefits of dandelion extract on humans. To date, the majority of dandelion extract studies have been performed on mice.
How to Use Dandelion Extract
There are a few popular ways to take dandelion extract, including:
— Fresh Or Dried Herbs And Roots
— Liquid Extracts
You can buy the tablet or capsule form of dandelion extract from many nutritional supplement manufacturers both online and offline. Typically, you’ll find dandelion extract included with a vitamin – like vitamin C – or with other vitamins in the form of a multivitamin supplement.
A monthly supply of dandelion extract mixed with a vitamin should cost between $10 and $20.
There have not been enough studies on dandelion extract to come up with accurate information about dandelion dosage. As WebMD.com explains,
“The appropriate dose of dandelion depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for dandelion.”
Dandelion Extract Side Effects
Dandelion extract, like many natural herbs, is safe for most people to take. However, some of the precautions to take before using dandelion extract include:
— There are some reports of increased stomach acid and heartburn after taking dandelion extract
— Dandelion extract may irritate the skin
— Those who are allergic to herbs like ragweed, marigold, chamomile, daisies, or iodine may also be allergic to dandelion
— Even if you’re not allergic to the above herbs, you may still experience some skin irritation while using dandelion extract
— As a diuretic, dandelion extract may also interact with certain medications – especially medications that are broken down in the liver. If you’re taking any prescription medications, be sure to talk to your doctor before taking dandelion extract.
Ultimately, dandelion extract is best used as a diuretic, where it’s been shown to encourage your body to produce more urine and, thus, release more toxins from the body. Aside from this benefit, dandelion extract has showed some early benefits at reducing the risk of diabetes and heart problems in mice – but these benefits have not been studied in humans.