Dandelion has its origin in Eurasia and North America. The species are edible in their entirely. The common name dandelion (/ˈdændɪlaɪ.ən/ DAN-di-ly-ən, from French dent-de-lion, meaning "lion's tooth").Dandelion nutrition and health benefits includes supporting weight loss, helps in taking care of cardiovascular system, helps curing asthma and helping to improve digestion. Dandelion also helps to boost your immune system, a useful skincare treatment and support healthy bones.
1. Highly Nutritious
In terms of nutritional content, the dandelion patch in your backyard can join the rankings with the rest of your vegetable garden. From root to flower, dandelion are highly nutritious plants, loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber. Dandelion greens can be eaten cooked or raw and serve as an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K. They also contain vitamin E, folate and small amounts of other B vitamins. What’s more, dandelion greens provide a substantial amount of several minerals, including iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium.
The root of the dandelion is rich in the carbohydrate inulin, which is a type of soluble fiber found in plants that supports the growth and maintenance of a healthy bacterial flora in your intestinal tract.
Dandelion root is often dried and consumed as a tea but can also be eaten in its whole form.
2. POTENT ANTIOXIDANT
Dandelion are full of potent antioxidants, which may explain why this plant has such broad applications for health. Antioxidants are molecules that help neutralize or prevent the negative effects of free radicals in your body. Free radicals are a product of normal metabolism but can be very destructive. The presence of too many free radicals contributes to disease development and accelerated aging. Therefore, antioxidants are essential for keeping your body healthy.
Dandelion contain high levels of the antioxidant beta-carotene, which is known to provide strong protection against cellular damage and oxidative stress. They’re also rich in another category of antioxidants called polyphenols, which are found in the highest concentration in the flower but are present in the roots, leaves and stems as well.
3. Fight Inflammation
Dandelion may be effective in reducing inflammation caused by disease due to the presence of various bioactive compounds like polyphenols within the plant. Inflammation is one of your body’s natural responses to injury or illness. Over time, excessive inflammation can lead to permanent damage to your body’s tissues and DNA.
A study in mice with artificially induced inflammatory lung disease showed a significant reduction of lung inflammation in those animals that received dandelion. Ultimately, more research is needed to clearly define dandelion’s role in reducing inflammation in humans.
4. Blood Sugar Control
Chicoric and chlorogenic acid are two bioactive compounds in dandelion. They’re found in all parts of the plant and may help reduce blood sugar. Test-tube and animal studies show that these compounds can improve insulin secretion from the pancreas while simultaneously improving the absorption of glucose (sugar) in muscle tissue. This process leads to improved insulin sensitivity and reduced blood sugar levels.
In some animal studies, chicoric and chlorogenic acid limited the digestion of starchy carbohydrate foods, which may also contribute to dandelion’s potential ability to reduce blood sugar. While these early study results are encouraging, more research is needed to determine if dandelion work the same way in humans.
5. Reduce Cholesterol
Some of the bioactive compounds in dandelion may lower cholesterol, which may decrease heart disease risk. One animal study resulted in dramatically reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels in mice that were treated with dandelion extract.A rabbit study evaluated the impact of adding dandelion roots and leaves to a high-cholesterol diet. Rabbits that received dandelion had noticeably reduced cholesterol levels. Though these outcomes are intriguing, more research is needed to determine dandelion’s potential effects on cholesterol in humans.
6. Lower Blood Pressure
Some people claim that dandelion may reduce blood pressure, but supporting evidence is limited. Traditional herbal medicine practices use dandelion for their diuretic effect based on the belief that this can detoxify certain organs. In Western medicine, diuretic medications are used to rid the body of excess fluid, which can lead to lowered blood pressure.
One human study found dandelion to be an effective diuretic. However, this study was done over a short period and involved only 17 people. Dandelion contain potassium, a mineral associated with lowered blood pressure in those with previously elevated levels. Thus, dandelion may have an indirect effect on blood pressure due to their potassium content. It’s important to keep in mind that this effect is not unique to dandelion but applies to any potassium-rich food consumed as part of a healthy diet.
7. Promote a Healthy Liver
Animal studies have found that dandelion have a protective effect on liver tissue in the presence of toxic substances and stress. One study revealed significant protection of liver tissue in mice exposed to toxic levels of acetaminophen (Tylenol). Researchers attributed this finding to dandelion’s antioxidant content.
Other animal studies have shown that dandelion extract may reduce levels of excess fat stored in the liver and protect against oxidative stress in liver tissue. However, the same results should not be expected in humans due to differences in human and animal metabolism. Further research is needed to determine how dandelion impact liver health in humans.
8. Aid Weight Loss
Some research indicates that dandelion and their bioactive components may support weight loss and maintenance, though the data is not entirely conclusive. Some researchers theorize that dandelion’s ability to improve carbohydrate metabolism and reduce fat absorption may lead to weight loss. However, this notion has yet to be scientifically proven.
One study in mice showed weight loss associated with dandelion supplementation, though it should be noted that this was an accidental finding and not the main focus of the study. Another study in obese mice revealed that chlorogenic acid, a compound found in dandelion, was able to reduce body weight and levels of some fat-storage hormones.
Yet again, this research did not specifically evaluate dandelion’s role in weight loss and obesity prevention. More focused, human-based research is needed to determine a clear cause-and-effect relationship between dandelion and weight management.
9. Fight Cancer
Perhaps one of the most intriguing health claims of dandelion is their potential to prevent the growth of cancerous cells in many different organ systems. One test-tube study revealed significantly reduced growth of cancerous cells that were treated with dandelion leaf extract. However, extracts from dandelion flower or root did not lead to the same result.Other test-tube studies have shown that dandelion root extract has the capacity to dramatically slow the growth of cancer cells in liver, colon and pancreatic tissue. These findings are encouraging, but more research is fundamental to fully understand how dandelion may be useful in treating or preventing cancer in humans.
10. Support Healthy Digestion and Treat Constipation
Traditional herbal medicine utilizes dandelion to treat constipation and other symptoms of impaired digestion. Some early research seems to support these claims. One animal study revealed a significant increase in the rates of stomach contractions and emptying of stomach contents into the small intestine in rats who were treated with dandelion extract. Additionally, dandelion root is a rich source of the prebiotic fiber inulin. Research indicates that inulin has a strong capacity to reduce constipation and increase intestinal movement.
Dosage and Supplement Forms and Possible Risks and Side Effects
Dandelion leaves, stems and flowers are often consumed in their natural state and can be eaten cooked or raw. The root is usually dried, ground and consumed as a tea or coffee substitute. Dandelion is also available in supplemental forms, such as capsules, extracts and tinctures. Currently, there are no clear dosage guidelines, as very little human research has been conducted on dandelion as a supplement.
According to some available data, suggested dosages for different forms of dandelion are:
Fresh leaves: 4–10 grams, daily.
Dried leaves: 4–10 grams, daily.
Leaf tincture: 0.4–1 teaspoon (2–5 ml), three times a day.
Fresh leaf juice: 1 teaspoon (5 ml), twice daily.
Fluid extract: 1–2 teaspoon (5–10 ml), daily.
Fresh roots: 2–8 grams, daily.
Dried powder: 250–1,000 mg, four times a day.
Dandelion have low toxicity and are likely safe for most people, especially when consumed as a food in its whole form. However, keep in mind that research is still very limited and its use is not 100% risk-free. Dandelion can cause allergic reactions, particularly in people with allergies to related plants like ragweed. Contact dermatitis can also occur in people with sensitive skin.
Dandelion may interact unfavorably with some medications, especially certain diuretics and antibiotics. If you’re taking any prescription medications, always consult your healthcare provider prior to taking dandelion.