15 Surprising Health Benefits Of Dandelion Herb
Benefits Of Dandelion Herb
Dandelion herb comes with several benefits. It can improve bone health and promote weight loss. It also has diuretic and laxative properties. Besides this, dandelion lowers cholesterol, reduces inflammation, fights anemia, prevents liver damage, and lowers oxidative stress. Some studies even suggest that it could lower blood sugar levels, fight cancer, and even treat jaundice.
Including dandelion in your diet can also give your body a good dose of nutrition.1 1 cup (55 g) of chopped dandelion greens will give you:
- 428 mcg of vitamin K (356% of the DV)
- 279 mcg of vitamin A (31%)
- 19.2 mg of vitamin C (21.3%)
- 15 mcg of vitamin B9 (3.75%)
- 218 mg of potassium (4.6%)
- 103 mg of calcium (4.12%)
When you think of dandelions, you might picture pesky little weeds that grow in your front yard. But don’t make the mistake of disregarding it as a “weed.” Dandelion has been long considered a beneficial herb by many different cultures around the world. In fact, different parts of the dandelion plant have been used by the Native Americans, the Chinese, and the Europeans in the preparation of herbal medicines and teas to cure several ailments.
In recent years, science has also found that dandelion has many health benefits and can be used to cure a number of diseases. Here’s a list of benefits of dandelion.
1. Improves Bone Health
Including dandelion greens in your diet can be a natural and effective way to keep your bones healthy and fight osteoporosis. Dandelions have a decent amount of calcium, with just 1 cup (55 g) of the chopped greens providing you 10% of your daily calcium requirement. Calcium is the building block of your bones. Dandelions are also very rich in vitamin K, with 1 cup yielding more than 3.5 times the amount required daily. Vitamin K has been known to prevent osteoporosis by reducing bone loss and maintaining the mineral density in bones.2
2. Aids In Digestion
Many traditional medicinal practitioners recommend dandelion as a digestive aid. It stimulates the flow of bile which creates a mild laxative effect and helps in removing waste more efficiently. So, if you’ve been feeling constipated or bloated, try drinking dandelion leaf/root tea or add young dandelion leaves to your salads.3 4
3. Promotes Weight Loss
Dandelion could help you in your weight loss efforts as well by inhibiting fat absorption into your body. Your pancreas releases an enzyme called pancreatic lipase that helps break down and absorb fat. A study found that dandelion extract could inhibit the action of the lipase by 86.3%, comparable to a standard anti-obesity drug at a similar dose, thanks to at least 5 phenolic compounds in dandelion roots.5 6 What needs to be noted here is that though dandelion was less effective than the anti-obesity drug in reducing fat absorption, it had fewer side effects.
4. Lowers Cholesterol
Cholesterol is not entirely bad for your body. It’s a waxy, fat-like substance which your body uses to make hormones, vitamin D, and compounds that help in digestion. However, high levels of some forms of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in your blood has been known to cause atherosclerosis, a condition where arteries become narrow and hardened due to the buildup of cholesterol deposits.7 Studies done on rabbits that were on a high-cholesterol diet found that dandelion root and leaf could protect against atherosclerosis by significantly reducing the LDL levels and increasing the HDL (good cholesterol) levels.8
5. Helps In Detoxification
Dandelion was so often used for its urine-inducing properties that its French name, pissenlit, translates to “wet the bed.” Though it may not directly cure urinary tract infections, its diuretic effect on the body ensures that UTI-causing bacteria is flushed out.9 10
If you’re looking for a quick detox, try sipping on some dandelion leaf tea. Dandelion, known as simhadanti in Sanskrit, has been used in ayurvedic medicine for its diuretic effects and its ability to detox your kidneys.11 It helps your body get rid of excess water and salt through urine, thus decreasing water retention-related bloating.12
6. Reduces Inflammation
Inflammation is a natural immune response by your body when your tissues or cells are under attack by pathogens like harmful bacteria and viruses. In the case of certain autoimmune diseases like arthritis, the body’s immune response is triggered though there is no real threat, resulting in damage to tissues and inflammation. A study conducted on guinea pigs has shown that dandelion has anti-inflammatory effect on the body, especially on the lungs and intestines.13 If you suffer from inflammation, dandelion could work as a natural remedy to provide relief.
7. Helps Fight Anemia
Dandelion has been used in North American folk medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments including anemia.14 Research conducted on mice has also shown that the number of red blood cells and the amount of hemoglobin significantly increased when they were given dandelion extracts.15 16 17 This is largely due to the fact that the herb is rich in iron, with 1 cup containing twice as much iron as spinach, as well as It also had antioxidants like phenols, flavonoids, and coumaric acid that help protect the red blood cells from free radical damage and increase their number.18
8. Prevents Liver Damage
Dandelion finds mention as a liver tonic in different traditional medicinal disciplines in India, Europe, and North America. Studies conducted with dandelion leaf and root have confirmed that dandelion extract can fight liver fibrosis or liver scarring caused by a buildup of scar tissue in response to liver inflammation or damage. Left unchecked, liver fibrosis could lead to cirrhosis or liver failure. Dandelion extract can also prevent fatty liver disease caused by fat accumulation in the liver.19 20 21
9. Decreases Oxidative Stress
Normal metabolic processes, as well as toxins from the environment, give rise to free radicals in your body, which damage cell membranes and trigger inflammation. When the natural antioxidant stores in the body cannot fight the free radicals, the body comes under oxidative stress. This is when you need antioxidants from your diet.22 The antioxidant properties of dandelion have been documented by several different studies, with one study specifically showing that dandelion protects against atherosclerosis related to oxidative stress.23 24 Having dandelion greens can be a great way to include more antioxidants in your diet.
10. Might Lower Blood Sugar Levels
While some experiments on rats have shown that dandelion water extracts do decrease blood glucose levels, there are others that have not shown significant changes.25 26 It is advised that you talk to your doctor if you are diabetic and want to include dandelion in your diet.
11. Might Treat Jaundice
Since dandelion has been known to heal the liver and reduce inflammation, it has also been used in traditional medicine to treat problems like liver enlargement and jaundice. A study on animals found that dandelion, along with a few other herbal extracts, was effective in curing jaundice.27 Since there are no conclusive human studies, talk to your healthcare provider before taking dandelion to cure jaundice.
12. Fights Cancer
Dandelion has proved its cancer-fighting prowess in multiple research experiments that targeted different types of cancer cells. In each of them, it was found that dandelion extract could act on cancer cells and destroy them without affecting the healthy cells. And while this makes it a good option to add to your list of anti-cancer foods, here are all the types of cancers dandelion might effectively fight:
- Melanoma or skin cancer, which is notoriously resistant to chemotherapy28
- Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow that is highly aggressive and resistant to drugs 29
- Colorectal cancer, a cancer of the colon or rectum – dandelion root extract could retard the growth of cancer cells by about 90%30
- Pancreatic cancer31
- Stomach cancer32
- Breast and prostate cancer, though there’s still some doubt about the long-term effect of dandelion on these hormone-sensitive cancers33
13. Improves Skin Health
Traditionally, dandelion tea was used to treat skin conditions, including eczema and skin hemorrhages such as those that occur due to scurvy, boils, yeast infections, burns, and warts. This benefit of the herb could be attributed to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Besides these, it is believed that since dandelion contributes to hormone regulation of the body, it is effective against acne as well.34 35 And as a good source of antioxidants, dandelion is believed to slow down the process of aging such as sagging skin, age spots, and wrinkles.36
14. Might Protect Vision
Dandelions are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect the retina from harmful effects of UV rays. In fact, one cup of dandelion greens will give you 7486 mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin which is higher than even carrots which provide 328 mcg per cup.37 38 Regular consumption of the herb may prevent macular degeneration, an age-related eye disease that causes loss of vision.39
15. Might Treat Gallbladder Diseases
Traditional medicine used dandelion root to treat gallbladder diseases. Studies suggest that since dandelion stimulates the flow of bile and is anti-inflammatory, it could be beneficial for gallbladder diseases.40
How To Have Dandelion
Don’t use dandelions plucked from just about anywhere. In urban areas, most people treat dandelion as a weed and the soil on which they grow is heavily sprayed with pesticides. If you want to use the fresh leaves, it’s best to plant some afresh in your garden.
There are various ways in which dandelion can become a part of your diet. Dandelion leaves and roots are available fresh or dried and can be used to prepare teas or tinctures. You can also go for dandelion supplements in the form of capsules.
If you like experimenting add dandelion greens to a salad with goat’s cheese, nuts, and lemon. Or you could throw them into a green smoothie. You could even saute the greens with a little olive oil and have it as a side with your bacon. But if you’re just starting out and would like to keep it simple, you could stick with some tea.
Dandelion Leaf Tea Recipe
One of the easiest ways to have dandelion is to make tea with it. Dandelion tea can be made with either dried or fresh leaves.
- Add one teaspoon of dried dandelion leaf or a quarter cup of fresh leaves to one cup of hot water.
- Allow it to steep for 10 minutes before drinking.
Note: There are several different species of dandelion. If you’re using fresh leaves, make sure you use leaves of Taraxacum officinale. Also, ensure that the plant has not been treated with pesticides or herbicides.
Possible Side Effects Of Dandelion
Dandelion belongs to a family of plants known as Compositae or Asteraceae. These are flowering plants that have been known to cause allergies like contact dermatitis and hives. If you are allergic to plants like ragweed, marigold, chrysanthemums, chamomile, daisies, or yarrow, chances are that you’re allergic to dandelion too. If you’re in doubt, talk to a dermatologist. A routine patch test can be used to find out if you are allergic.41
Though dandelion has several health benefits, it’s not safe to assume that it won’t have any side effects. According to the University of Maryland Medical Centre, dandelion could interact with certain medications and it’s always recommended that you talk to your doctor about having dandelion if you’re on medication. Here are some medications that could interact with dandelion.42
- Diabetes medication: If you’re diabetic and already on medication, talk to your doctor before taking dandelion in any form as it could affect blood glucose levels.
- Diuretics: Avoid dandelion if you’re already taking prescription diuretics. Having dandelion while on other medication or herbs that are also diuretics could cause electrolyte imbalance.
- Antacids: Dandelion may increase stomach acidity which could reduce the effectiveness of antacids.
- Blood thinners: If you’re already taking blood thinners, dandelion could increase the risk of bleeding.
- Antibiotics: A species of dandelion known as Taraxacum mongolicum (Chinese dandelion) may interfere with the absorption of the antibiotic ciproflaxin. Though dandelions used in the USA belong to a different species (Taraxacum officinale), it’s always safe to consult with your doctor if you’re on antibiotics.
- Lithium: Studies have shown that dandelion may worsen the effects of lithium, a widely used medication for bipolar disorder.
Dandelion is an extremely versatile herb that has been used since ancient times to treat a variety of medical conditions. Herbalists across the world have recognized its healing properties, many of which have been proved to be true by scientists and researchers. For specific ailments, talk to a certified alternative healthcare practitioner before you use dandelion as a cure. However, for general health purposes, you could always have dandelion to increase the overall health quotient of your diet.
References [ + ]
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Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.