The health benefits of dandelion include relief from liver disorders, diabetes, urinary disorders, acne, jaundice, cancer, and anemia. It also helps in maintaining bone health, skin care, and weight loss. All these health benefits are currently being studied for complete validation by a number of international institutions.
Despite the health benefits of dandelions, they are traditionally more popular as ornamental flowering plants than as medicine, because the flowers look brilliant and are frequently seen in gardens and parks. There are many varieties of dandelion, but the common one is scientifically known as Taraxacum officinale. In terms of history, the plant is believed to have evolved about 30 million years ago in Eurasia.
Health Benefits of Dandelion
Let us understand the different things that dandelion can do for us, besides decorating our gardens.
Improves Bone Health
Dandelion is rich in calcium, which is essential for the growth and strength of bones. It is also rich in antioxidants like vitamin C and luteolin, which protect bones from age-related damage. This inevitable impairment is often due to free radicals and is frequently seen as bone frailty, weakness, and decreased density.
Treats Liver Disorders
Dandelion can help the liver in many ways. While the antioxidants like vitamin C and luteolin keep the liver functioning in optimal gear and protect it from aging, other compounds in dandelion help treat hemorrhaging in the liver. Furthermore, dandelion aids in maintaining the proper flow of bile, while also stimulating the liver and promoting digestion. Proper digestion can reduce the chances of constipation, which in turn reduces the risk of serious gastrointestinal issues.
Dandelion juice can help diabetics by stimulating the production of insulin from the pancreas, thereby keeping the blood sugar level low. Since dandelions are diuretic in nature, they increase urination in diabetic patients, which helps remove excess sugar from the body. Diabetics are also prone to renal problems, so the diuretic properties of dandelion can help in removing the sugar deposition in the kidneys through increased urination. Furthermore, the dandelion juice is slightly bitter to taste, which effectively lowers the sugar level in the blood, as all bitter substances do. Consistently lower blood sugar and a regulated insulin release prevents dangerous spikes and plunges in diabetics, so dandelion extracts can be a perfect solution!
Treats Urinary Disorders
Dandelions are highly diuretic in nature, so they help eliminate deposits of toxic substances in 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. You should be careful while using this sap and avoid any contact with the eyes. This sap can be used on itches, ringworm, eczema, and other skin conditions without the risk of side effects or hormonal disturbances commonly caused by pharmaceutical skin treatments.
Dandelion juice is a good detoxifier, diuretic, stimulant, and antioxidant. These four properties make it a great treatment for acne. Before we know how it treats acne, we must know what causes it. Acne typically arises during the teenage years, when the body undergoes many physiological and hormonal changes. The flood of new hormones that bring about the changes in the body must be regulated, but if they don’t remain at a healthy ratio, they tend to deposit somewhat toxic substances into the body. These toxins tend to come out along with sweat through the sweat glands or sebaceous glands on the skin.
During these hormonal changes, these glands secrete more oils which, when mixed with dead skin, block the pores and the secretion of toxins is obstructed. Therefore, the toxic substances cannot escape and eventually result in acne. This situation is exacerbated by the microbial infections in the affected places. Dandelion juice, being a stimulant, diuretic, and detoxifier by nature, 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. Furthermore, dandelion sap, if externally applied to areas with acne, can inhibit microbial infection and reduce the signs of acne. Also, it can speed up healing due to its vitamin C content, so the scars and ugly red inflammation that traditionally follow acne treatment will be less noticeable.
Our urine consists of up to 4% fat, so the more we urinate, the more water and fats are lost from the body. Dandelions, being diuretic in nature, promote urination and thereby help in losing the dreaded “water weight” without causing any side effects. Furthermore, dandelions are low in calories, like most leafy greens, but for the small expense of calories (~100 cal. /4 cups), you get a huge amount of beneficial side effects. This is also why dandelions are sometimes used as sweeteners because they are not packed with unhealthy sugars.
Dandelions are high in antioxidants, such as vitamin C and luteolin, which reduce free radicals (major cancer-causing agents) in the body, thereby reducing the risk of cancer. Vitamin C also detoxifies the body, which further protects from the development of tumors and various cancers. 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 there are other studies being done.
Jaundice is primarily a disorder of the liver in which the organ starts overproducing bile, which ultimately enters the bloodstream and wreaks havoc on the body’s metabolism. The excess bile is also reflected through the color of the skin and eyes, which typically develops a yellow tint. The treatment of jaundice includes three main steps. First, you need to curb the production of bile. Second, you must remove the excess bile from the body, and third, you have to fight the underlying viral infection.
Dandelions are very helpful in all of these steps. They promote liver health and regulate bile production. Being diuretic in nature, they promote urination, where the excess bile can be eliminated. Finally, as an antioxidant and disinfectant 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 extreme fatigue and weakness, so dandelions help boost your energy levels after infection.
Prevents Gall Bladder Disorders
Dandelions are very beneficial for the gallbladder and liver, because they improve their general functioning, protect them from ill effects of oxidants and infections, and regulate the various secretions from both organs.
The high levels of dietary fiber make dandelion a beneficial aid for digestion and proper intestinal health. Dietary fiber stimulates healthy bowel movements by adding bulk to stool and also reduces chances of constipation and diarrhea. It regulates bowel movements, which can prevent serious gastrointestinal issues. It 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 following trauma or surgery.
Dandelions have relatively good levels of iron, vitamins, and protein content. While iron is an integral part of hemoglobin in the blood, vitamin B and protein are essential for the formation of red blood cells and certain other components of the blood. This way dandelion can help anemic people keep their condition in check.
Regulates Blood Pressure
Urination is an effective way of lowering blood pressure. In fact, most of the modern medicines for lowering blood pressure are based on this phenomenon. Dandelion juice, being diuretic in nature, increases urination, both in quantity and frequency. Therefore, it helps to lower high blood pressure. The fiber in dandelion is also helpful in reducing cholesterol and thereby assists in lowering blood pressure since cholesterol is one of the factors that increase blood pressure. Finally, there is a high potassium content in dandelions, which is very effective in lowering blood pressure by replacing sodium.
Dandelions can also be used as a vegetable and are a good source of fiber. It promotes digestion, and in the past, it was used to treat scurvy because of its high levels of vitamin C. It also has healing effects on dyspepsia, infections in the stomach, intestines, and the urinary system.
Word of Caution: 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. Consult your doctor before adding dandelion supplements on top of your normal treatment. Also, the milk sap of dandelions has been known to cause itchiness, irritation, or allergic reactions on the skin, and should be kept away from the eyes. Finally, 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. While adding dandelion greens 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!
Can you eat dandelions?
Yes, you can eat every single part of a dandelion. Interestingly enough, every part of the dandelion is used for various health benefits and alternative treatments. You can make dandelion wine, fry up the flowers into fritters, make coffee and tea drinks out of the stem and seeds, and so much more. Have you added it to your diet yet?
What is a dandelion?
A dandelion is a type of flower but is actually a broad term for many different types of flowers that are native to Europe and North America. Taraxacum is the large genus to which these dandelion 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.
What is dandelion good for?
Dandelions are good for a number things, including its ability to detoxify the body, improve liver health, stimulate urination, promote weight loss, and boost the immune system. Dandelions are also good for feminine health, as they help balance hormones and these flowers deliver a healthy dose of minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins. Also, these flowers can even help diabetics manage their blood sugar.
Is dandelion a weed?
Dandelions are actually flowers but may be seen as weeds by gardeners and those who don’t want a fast-growing and invasive plant in their yard. Belonging to a larger genus Taraxacum, the word dandelion encompasses many types of similar flowers. While many people continue to pull up every dandelion they see and throw them in the garbage, they should use them to make health tonics instead!
Where to buy dandelion greens?
Dandelion greens can be purchased at most vitamin shops and health food stores, but aren’t available at all big-box stores yet. GNC is a great option and a brand that can be found in many countries. Natural health practitioners should also have dandelion greens available.
Is dandelion a flower?
While plenty of people look at dandelions and see weeds, they are in fact flowers! Dandelions are perennial and herbaceous flowers that grow very well in temperate climates such as those found in Europe and North America, where the flower is native. However, a rapid growth, bright flowers, and the invasive nature of dandelions are the reasons why some people hesitate to admit that they are flowers!
What does dandelion mean?
Dandelion is actually derived from an old French phrase, dent de lion, which meant tooth of a lion, because of the shape of the sharp leaves of the plant. In fact, these types of leaves are called “toothed leaves”. Fortunately, this hasn’t kept people from cultivating and consuming dandelions for centuries, thanks to their health benefits and unique flavor.
How to eat dandelion greens?
Dandelion greens should be treated like any other leafy green vegetable, such as spinach, chard or collard greens. You can use dandelion greens as a salad booster, to add some unique nutrients to the meal and can also put them on sandwiches in place of less-nutritious lettuce. Dandelion greens can also be ground up and made into pestos and other spreads for an unusual taste sensation!