The health benefits of dandelion include relief from liver disorders, diabetes, urinary disorders, jaundice, cancer, and anemia. It also helps in maintaining bone health, skin care, and weight loss. Moreover, dandelion is also known to aid in improving appetite, reducing muscle pain, stomach disorders, and it helps treat bruises as well.
What is a Dandelion?
A dandelion is a flower and is also a broad term for many types of flowers that are native to Europe and North America. Taraxacum is the large genus to which these plants belong. They are herbaceous and perennial plants that grow very well in temperate climates. They also reproduce quickly and effectively, so it is possible to cultivate plenty of dandelions at the same time. Interestingly, dandelion translates into “lion’s tooth” in French.
Despite the health benefits of dandelions, they are more popular as ornamental flowering plants than as medicine, because the flowers look brilliant and are frequently seen in gardens and parks. In terms of history, the plant is believed to have evolved about 30 million years ago in Eurasia.
Dandelion Nutrition Facts
Dandelion is low in calories and rich in carbohydrates and fiber. It contains vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and vitamin K. The minerals in it include iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium.
Health Benefits of Dandelion
Let us understand the different health benefits of dandelions below.
Improves Bone Health
Dandelion is rich in calcium and vitamin K, which is essential for the growth and strength of bones. It is also rich in antioxidants like vitamin C and luteolin, which protect the bones from age-related disorders like osteoporosis and arthritis. This inevitable impairment is often due to free radicals and is frequently seen as bone weakness and decreased density.
Treats Liver Disorders
The antioxidants like vitamin C and luteolin, in dandelions, keep the liver functioning in optimal gear. These nutrients also protect it from toxins and help treat hemorrhaging in the liver.
Aids in Digestion
Dandelion supplements aid in maintaining the proper flow of bile, while also stimulating the liver and promoting digestion. Being rich in fiber, dandelions also aid in lowering the risk of dyspepsia, diverticulosis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Dietary fiber stimulates healthy bowel movements by adding bulk to the stool and also reduces chances of constipation, diarrhea, and serious gastrointestinal issues. Dandelion is commonly prescribed for children who are experiencing constipation, as it is relatively soothing on the stomach. It has also been used to stimulate the appetite, particularly after a surgery.
Dandelion juice helps diabetics by stimulating the production of insulin from the pancreas, thereby regulating the blood sugar level. Since dandelions are diuretic in nature, they increase urination, which helps remove excess sugar from the body. Diabetics are also prone to renal problems, so dandelion extracts can help in removing the sugar deposition in the kidneys through increased urination. Dandelion juice is slightly bitter to taste, which effectively lowers the sugar level in the blood. A regulated blood sugar and maintained insulin level prevents dangerous spikes and plunges in diabetics, so dandelion extracts can definitely be a great food for diabetics!
Treats Urinary Disorders
Dandelion extracts are highly diuretic in nature, so they help eliminate toxins from the kidneys and the urinary tract. The disinfectant properties of dandelions also inhibit microbial growth in the urinary system. In fact, the diuretic properties of dandelions are so strong that in France, the flower is also called “pissenlit” which means “urinate in bed”.
Dandelion sap, also known as dandelion milk, is useful in treating skin diseases which are caused by microbial and fungal infections. This treatment stems from the fact that the sap is highly alkaline and has germicidal, insecticidal, and fungicidal properties. This sap can be used on itches, ringworm, eczema, bruises, and other skin conditions without the risk of side effects or hormonal disturbances commonly caused by pharmaceutical skin treatments.
Dandelion juice is a good treatment for acne. Being a stimulant, diuretic, and detoxifier by nature, it can help regulate proper secretion of hormones, increase sweating, and widen the pores. All of these factors help facilitate the removal of toxins through sweat and urine. Dandelion sap, if externally applied, can inhibit microbial infection and reduce the signs of acne. Also, it can speed up healing due to its vitamin C content, so acne scars and inflammation will be less noticeable.
Dandelions promote urination and help in losing water weight without causing any side effects. They are naturally sweet in taste and low in calories, which is why dandelions are generally used as sweeteners because they are not packed with unhealthy sugars.
Dandelion extracts are high in antioxidants such as vitamin C and luteolin, which reduce free radicals in the body, thereby reducing the risk of cancer. Vitamin C also detoxifies the body, which inhibits the development of tumors. Luteolin poisons essential components of cancer cells when it binds to them, rendering them ineffective and unable to reproduce. This characteristic has been demonstrated most notably with prostate cancer, although research is still ongoing.
Dandelion supplements are very helpful in treating jaundice. They promote liver health and regulate bile production. With antioxidant and disinfectant properties, due to the presence of vitamin C and luteolin, dandelions fight viral infections as well. They are the most beneficial when taken with sugarcane juice since they replace the sugar in the body, which is significantly lowered due to the impact of excess bile. A lack of sugar can cause fatigue and weakness, so dandelions also help boost your energy levels after infection.
Prevents Gall Bladder Issues
Dandelion leaves are very beneficial in stimulating a sluggish gallbladder as they help in bile excretion, which aids in better fat metabolism. Also, dandelion root can help in detoxifying the body by removing excess water and purifying the blood.
Dandelions have good levels of iron, vitamins, and protein. While iron is an integral part of hemoglobin in the blood, vitamin B and protein are essential for the formation of red blood cells (RBCs) and certain other components of the blood. This way dandelion can help anemic people keep their condition in check.
Regulates Blood Pressure
Dandelion juice, being diuretic in nature, increases urination, both in quantity and frequency. The fiber in it is also helpful in reducing cholesterol and thereby assists in treating hypertension. The high potassium content in dandelions is very effective in lowering high blood pressure by replacing sodium.
Vitamin A, found in dandelions, is a great nutrient for a mom-to-be. It aids in the third trimester as it can protect pregnant women from night blindness.
How to eat a Dandelion?
There are many ways to include dandelion in your diet as it is available in many forms.
- You can enjoy dandelion wine, fry up the flowers into fritters, make coffee out of the stem, leaves, and seeds, and so much more.
- Dandelion root tea is a great beverage if you are looking for a new addition to your breakfast.
- You can use dandelion greens in your salads, to add some unique nutrients to the meal and can also put them on sandwiches in place of lettuce.
- Dandelion greens can also be ground up and made into pestos and other spreads for a new taste!
Side Effects of Dandelions
There are a couple of side effects of including dandelions in your diet. They are:
- Dandelions can be helpful in lowering blood sugar, but for patients already taking blood-sugar modulators, this can result in hypoglycemia, an equally dangerous condition.
- The milky sap of dandelions has been known to cause itchiness, irritation, or allergic reactions on the skin, and should be kept away from the eyes.
- There is a rare type of fiber in dandelions called inulin and some people have a predisposed sensitivity or allergy to it which can be quite severe.
- It is advised that pregnant and breastfeeding women should not consume dandelion in any form as it may lead to adverse effects.
Consult your doctor before adding dandelion or its supplements in addition to your normal treatment.
While adding dandelions to your diet in any way, start small and closely monitor your body’s response. Other than that, pick some delicious dandelion greens and get healthy!