Dandelion is a plant known scientifically as Taraxacum officinale that is rich in vitamins, inulin, phytosterols, aminoacids and minerals (mainly potassium).
Because of its various properties, dandelion can be used for the treatment of digestive disorders, liver or pancreatic illness, and skin issues.
According to a study completed in China in 2011 , dendelion tea also appears to quickly eliminate the influenza virus.
Dandelion contains natural substances that can offer many health benefits, such as phenolic compounds, flavonoids, carotenoids and oligofructans. It contains antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and hepato-protective properties, making it useful to treat and manage many illnesses.
Dandelion can be used for:
1. Protecting the liver
Some studies confirm that the polyphenols, flavonoids and polysacharrides present in this plant contain many benefits for optimal liver functioning. It helps to decrease inflammation and oxidative damage that commonly occur with liver issues. Dandelion also protects the liver from toxic substances, like industrial-grade chemicals and high medication doses.
It it also worth noting that dandelion also helps with liver regeneration and helps to decrease fat that accumulates in the liver. It can be useful for the treatment of hepatitis and cystic fibrosis.
2. Preventing heart disease
The natural bioactive substances in dandelion contain hypochelesterolemic and antioxidant properties, which are beneficial for preventing the formation and/or progression of atherosclerosis.
Some studies show that dandelion leaves help to prevent oxidative damage to cells and that is decreases triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels, which can also contribute to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and strokes.
3. Stimulating weight loss
Some studies show that dandelion roots have an anti-obesity effect that metabolizes fat and decreases fat cell size. This effect also inhibits the formation of fat cells by blocking the release of pancreatic enzymes.
In addition, studies done on dandelion leaf and root extracts show that this plant is able to reduce the levels of triglycerides in the body, which can reduce overall weight.
4. Managing diabetes
Some studies done in patients with type 2 diabetes show that patients who are treated with powdered dandelion roots and leaves showed a significant reduction in fasting glucose levels. It is thought that this plant has an effect on insulin production and acts by lowering blood sugar levels.
5. Preventing cancer
Dandelion extract contains triterpenoids, sesquiterpenes, and phenolic compounds. These are potent, natural antioxidants that also contain an anti-cancerogenic action.
Some studies confirm that dandelion root extract can also inhibit the growth of different types of cancer (like colorectal and breast cancer) on a cellular level.
6. Promoting gastrointestinal health
Dandelion roots are rich in oligofructans, also known as prebiotics. These are a great carb and energy source that provide energy to the healthy bacteria that are naturally found in the intestines.
This plant can help to treat constipation and the debelopment of intestinal illnesses, like hemorrhoids and diverticulosis.
Dandelion can also improve mild digestive symptoms, like bloating, gas and slow digestion.
7. Treating the flu
According to a study in China done in 2011 , dandelion can also help to treat the flu. It was noted that teas containing more than 15mg/mL of dandelion appear to eliminate the flu virus from the body.
Dandelion tea should be consumed as a complement to your prescribed medical treatment, however, to ensure a quick cure and recovery.
How to use dandelion
It is possible to use dandelion roots or leaves to make tea, tinctures and smoothies. You may find it on its own as a supplement, or in combination with other medicinal plants in pills or capsules. These can be purchased in pharmacies or natural health stores.
1. Dandelion tea
- 2 teaspoons of dandelion roots, powdered or very finely chopped
- 200 ml (about 1 cup) of boiling water
How to prepare
Add the roots to the boiling water and allow to soak for 10 minutes. Then strain, allow to cool, and drink up to 3 times per day. For gastrointestinal problems, this tea should be consumed before meals.
2. Dandelion smoothie
- Fresh dandelion leaves
- Coconut water
How to prepare
Mix the leaves and the coconut in a blender and drink up to 3 times per day. Usually, dandelion contains a bitter taste, which is why fresh, newer leaves should be used, as their flavor is not as intense.
You can also add other ingredients to your smoothie, like apple juice, mint and ginger to improve the flavor and achieve more health benefits.
3. In its natural form
Dandelion can also be used in its natural form when cooking. This plant is safe to eat and can be added to salads, soups and even some desserts.
Contraindications for use
Dandelion should not be used by people who are hypersensitive to this plant. It should be avoided by people with a history of biliary duct or bowel obstruction, acute gallbladder inflammation or peptic ulcers.
The effects of dandelion during pregnancy and breastfeeding has not been thoroughly studied, and therefore it is not recommende for use during these periods.
You should also avoid consuming this plant if you take diuretic or diabetes medication, as it can strengthen these pills’ action. It should also not be used by those who take lithium.
Possible side effects
Dandelion is considered to be safe and is well-tolerated, as its risk for toxicity is low.
Nonetheless, it can cause gastrointestinal issues or allergic reactions due the presence of allergens like taraxinic acid and sesquiterpenic lactone, although these are rare.