When most people think of a dandelion, they think about the bothersome weed that grows in the yard and invades our gardens.
As kids, we used to pick them and make a wish for good luck as we blew the dandelion seeds in the air. Little did we know that we were causing more dandelion weeds to sprout.
Dandelion is a weed, a good luck harbinger and thankfully, it’s also a food source and herbal medicine that just about anyone can find or grow.
The tiny, flowering plant has origins in Eurasia and has been used for thousands of years as both food and medicine.
Non-Western medicine has used dandelion to treat blood disorders, scurvy, skin problems, and depression.
They can be picked wild or grown in your garden. If you do choose the wild ones, pick them in a natural environment where they have not been exposed to pesticides, fertilizers, or other chemicals. Seeds can be specially ordered as well.
Some health food stores will carry fresh dandelion leaves or a freeze-dried herb.
Dandelion tea, capsules, and tinctures are also available, but you can also make fresh dandelion tea from the leaves and roots of the plant.
The dandelion plant is a good source for the following:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- B complex vitamins
- Vitamin K
- Beta-carotene (body converts this to Vitamin A)
- Organic sodium
- Trace minerals
There are numerous health benefits that can be had from consuming parts of this flowering plant.
Before using any alternative herbal or natural remedy, it is always recommended that you consult with your physician to make sure that there are no potential interactions with other medicine you may be taking.
Many traditional doctors are open to non-traditional practices that may have a positive impact on your overall health.
Dandelion Root Extract Benefits
Some of the health benefits from taking a dandelion root extract are:
The leaves and roots of the dandelion plant can be used to make a warm beverage that will act as a mild laxative.
Dandelion will also aid in the production of stomach acid and bile to help the digestive system process food, especially fats.
Lower Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is lowered by increasing urination and many blood pressure prescription medicines have some type of diuretic component that helps the body eliminate urine and lower blood pressure.
Dandelion tea is a natural diuretic and will increase urine output, both in frequency and volume.
Dandelion is also high in fiber that will help lower bad cholesterol levels, which is thought to be a contributing factor in high blood pressure.
The dandelion is also high in potassium, which is effective in lowering blood pressure by replacing sodium.
Improved Kidney Function
The dandelion plant is a natural diuretic that assists the kidneys in eliminating waste, salt, and excess water by increasing urine output.
The French call this plant, Pissenlit, which translates in English to: “Wet the Bed.” Dandelion also inhibits microbial growth in the urinary tract and replaces potassium that is reduced in the urination process.
The dandelion plant is rich in calcium, Vitamin C, and Luteolin that will help protect bones from age-related damage.
Dandelions also contain powerful antioxidants that can prevent bone weakness and decreased bone density.
The root of the dandelion plant is rich in boron, which can help to raise estrogen levels in the blood, and may preserve bone integrity.
Since dandelions are a natural diuretic, consuming them regularly can help shed excess pounds, especially that “water weight” that can be difficult to lose.
Urine consists of up to 4% fat, so the more frequent you urinate, the more weight you can lose.
Dandelions are also low in calories (4 cups=100 calories) and may be used as a natural sweetener since they are not loaded with unhealthy sugars.
Improved Liver Function
Many supplements that are targeted for liver support use dandelions as an ingredient.
Antioxidants found in the dandelion plant keep the liver functioning at optimal levels and will protect it from aging.
Even more significant, there are compounds in dandelion that can reduce hemorrhaging in the liver.
This little plant will also help to maintain good bile flow, which can reduce the chances of other gastrointestinal problems such as constipation. Dandelion may even help with slowing the progression of cirrhosis of the liver.
Dandelion milk is excellent at treating skin conditions that are caused by microbial and fungal infections.
It can be used to treat ringworm, eczema, and poison ivy, as well as other common skin problems, without the side-effects commonly caused by harsher medications and ointments.
Dandelion milk has natural germicidal, insecticidal, and fungicidal properties that make it a great addition to your skin regimen.
The gallbladder and liver work together, providing beneficial functions to the body.
Dandelion can help keep the gallbladder free from infections and will improve the secretions from both the liver and the gallbladder. It also reduces inflammation and increases bile production.
Type 2 Diabetes
Dandelions will stimulate the pancreas, allowing for better production of insulin. Since dandelions are a natural diuretic, urination is increased which helps to remove excess sugar from the body and may improve blood sugar levels.
Dandelion teas and juices have a bitter taste, which is thought to lower blood sugar as well.
For those who take prescription medications to control their blood sugar, dandelion intake should be closely monitored and discussed with their personal physician since a combination of dandelion and medication can send the diabetic into hypoglycemia.
Due to its high fiber content, the dandelion plant is very beneficial in preventing or treating constipation.
High dietary fiber adds bulk to the stool and helps prevent constipation and diarrhea by improving the conditions in the intestinal tract.
Dandelion is often prescribed for children who are having gastrointestinal issues since it is soothing to the digestive tract and stomach.
The dandelion plant has naturally occurring properties that help to stimulate the appetite in chemotherapy patients and the elderly.
The dandelion plant is rich in antioxidants that reduce free radicals (thought to cause cancer cell growth) throughout the body, reducing the chances of cell mutation that can lead to cancer.
Luteolin, a compound in dandelion, has a positive impact on some components of cancer cells by binding to them and causing the cells to become unable to replicate.
Jaundice occurs when the liver is unable to function properly and creates excessive bile and bilirubin that causes a yellowish tint to the eyes and skin.
The dandelion plant will help to regulate liver functions, including the production of bile. Because of its detoxification properties, it can help to support the liver by removing toxins and other chemicals.
For maximum benefits in clearing jaundice, it is recommended to drink 6-8 cups of dandelion juice or tea per day and to also drink plenty of sugarcane juice to replace the sugar in the body that has been depleted due to excess bile.
Another benefit of adding sugarcane is for the boost of energy that is much needed after a bout of jaundice or while battling liver disease.
Since the dandelion plant is rich in iron, vitamins, and protein, it makes an excellent natural remedy for people who are suffering from anemia.
When compared to carrots, dandelion has nearly twice the carotene levels for the same portion size. Dandelion also has a high zinc content that can be helpful in the prevention of anemia.
The dandelion root, when made into a tea, becomes an appetite stimulant that can encourage those not feeling well to eat. Fresh green vegetables, whole grains, and unprocessed foods should be the first choice.
Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Because the leaves of the dandelion plant are a natural diuretic, drinking a cup or two of juice that has been prepared from the leaves can have a positive effect on cramping, bloating, and pain associated with PMS.
It is also thought that because the dandelion plant has so many benefits for overall health symptoms of PMS can be greatly reduced by consuming dandelion juice regularly.
Because the dandelion plant is rich in B complex vitamins, it can be a powerful remedy for mild depression and anxiety.
Many forms of depression are attributed to chemical imbalances in the brain and the antioxidants in the dandelion might help to balance brain chemicals and other chemical reactions in the body.
The pain from a migraine headache comes from the blood pumping through narrowing arteries, increasing pressure and causing a variety of symptoms, including debilitating pain.
Since the dandelion plant is considered a detoxifying herb, it removes toxins and cleanses the liver, thereby eliminating the reaction in the brain that can occur from toxins in the body traveling in the arteries and veins.
Because the dandelion plant has a positive impact on high-blood pressure and because it has natural cholesterol lowering properties, consuming dandelion on a regular basis may slow or reverse cardiovascular disease.
Dandelion is a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals that can lead to increased blood pressure, nervous system disorders, and may contribute to plaque in the arteries. The dandelion plant is also a natural diuretic that can help eliminate excess fluid.
Healthier Immune System
Powdered dandelion root has a phytochemical that supports the blood and circulatory system.
With naturally occurring antioxidants and essential vitamins and nutrients, adding any part of the dandelion plant will promote a healthier immune system, which promotes improved overall health.
Colds, Coughs, And Sore Throats
There are easy recipes to make your own dandelion honey that can then be used for treating a cold, sore throat, or bothersome cough.
This honey is a great replacement to regular bee honey and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
The leaves from the dandelion plant might be one of the best remedies for treating osteoarthritis.
Fresh, young leaves should be eaten raw in salads or sautéed with olive oil and fresh garlic.
Because of the high Vitamin A and Vitamin C content, the dandelion leaves will help the body repair damaged ligaments and tissue to help ease arthritic pain. Dandelion may also help with swelling and inflammation.
All parts of the dandelion root are edible and considered safe for most individuals. However, there is a possibility of an allergic reaction if you have never consumed dandelion before.
People with an allergy to ragweed, marigold, chrysanthemum, yarrow, daisy, or chamomile should not consume any part of the dandelion plant.
Dandelion Review Summary
Women who are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are nursing should check with their doctor before adding anything new to their diet.
A doctor should also be consulted for many of the medical conditions we have listed to ascertain the proper medications and whether dandelion is a good alternative.
There is no way to definitively know whether dandelion can help you to replace your medications. Start by having an in-depth conversation with your health care professional about adding dandelion to your diet.
Never stop taking prescription medications without your doctor’s consent. Most in the medical community feel that herbs and natural remedies such as dandelion can be part of your health regimen and will be able to counsel you further on the proper use.
If you do not have any serious health problems and are not allergic to dandelion, then adding dandelion to your diet can still have very positive effects on your overall health.
Start by adding fresh dandelion leaves to salads and making a soothing tea with the roots. There is also a great recipe for dandelion honey that sounds delicious.
The dandelion plant is full of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial nutrients that make it a natural alternative to artificially produced supplements that promise to have the same benefits.