Health Benefits Of Dandelion
Although dandelion is a type of weed, it offers many health benefits and has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy. Every part of the flower offers some type of benefit, including the petals, leaves, and roots.
For certain, dandelion is a great source of vitamins and phytochemicals. It offers a wide range of nutritional benefits for the human body. Some studies suggest that dandelion can be used to cleanse the blood and liver. Additionally, it can improve the function of the kidney, spleen, and stomach. It can even be used as a diuretic.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, dandelion contains more vitamin A than spinach and more vitamin C than a tomato. It’s also rich in iron, calcium, and potassium. Its high content of betacarotene, which functions as an antioxidant and a carotenoid, protecting cells from damage caused by oxidation.
Compounds found in dandelion might help lower levels of bad cholesterol. Animal studies show that dandelion leaves contain bioactive compounds. These can reduce the cholesterol levels of people consuming a high-fat diet.
Some experts believe that dandelion reduces inflammation. This is because of its antioxidant properties. This means that many people could benefit from this herbal supplement, as inflammation is the underlying problem for many chronic issues. More research is needed to show its anti-inflammatory effects.
Generations of women around the world have consumed dandelion as a way to relieve menopausal symptoms and constipation. It also works as a natural diuretic, helping relieve fluid retention. Some say that it even prevents age spots.
The medicinal use of dandelion dates back thousands of years to the Ancient Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians. Traditional Chinese medicine also extolls dandelion for its health benefits.
Throughout history, people grew and cultivated dandelions for medicinal use. Folklore books often include dandelion tonics. Some recipes use dandelion to cleanse the blood and remove toxins. Others purport treatment for ailments ranging from simple warts to the bubonic plague.
Where Does Dandelion Come From?
Dandelions grow everywhere. A nuisance weed, the plant is easily recognizable due to its long, pointed leaves and yellow flowers. Today, gardeners think of dandelions as weeds. Many don’t know about their medicinal benefits or edibility.
Most gardeners know that dandelion roots grow deep into the ground (up to 15 feet), which makes them hard to kill. But they do help to prevent erosion. The nutrients in the roots can even help fertilize lawns.
Dandelion As A Supplement
Dietary recommendations for dandelion intake don’t exist. Those wishing to take dandelion supplements should be conscious of possible side effects. However, dandelion petals, leaves, and roots do contain many phytochemicals and nutrients that include:
- Vitamins B1, B2, B3
- Vitamin C
How To Consume Dandelion
Dandelion leaves can be boiled and eaten like spinach. Raw, young leaves are great for salads.
Dandelion supplements available in teas, tinctures, drops, and other forms may provide some health benefits for users. Yet, bonified studies are few. This is true when it comes to studies that look at dandelion’s effect on diseases. Potential users should be aware that dandelion is not currently approved by the FDA.
Dandelion pills can be found online. They can also be found at herbal supply stores or natural health food stores. Since dandelion sold as an herbal supplement is not regulated, users should research the products. Depending on the origin, some might contain contaminants. Purchase dandelion only from reputable sources.
Follow guidelines for dosage printed on the supplement package. If in doubt, confer with a pharmacist or your primary care provider. Dosage recommendations also take into account age and general health status.
Due to a lack of research, there is no suggested dosage range. Consult with your physician or healthcare provider before consuming dandelion in its natural form. This is even more true if you have health issues.
Possible Side Effects
Dandelion is relatively safe when consumed in the diet. Dandelion that is eaten in its natural form (leaves, flowers, or roots) is either cooked or in a salad. Watch for signs of allergy. These signs can include swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat. Hives may break out on the skin.
In rare cases, dandelion pills might cause some side effects. These can include diarrhea, heartburn, or stomach ache. If you experience side effects, simply stop using the pills.
Pregnant or nursing women should consult their obstetrician before use. People with skin issues such as eczema may have allergic reactions.
Dandelion may also have blood thinner qualities. So, don’t take dandelion pills if you have been diagnosed with a bleeding disorder or take blood thinner drugs like Warfarin. The same applies to organ failure. Don’t take dandelion pills if you have recently undergone surgery.
Consult with a health care provider before taking any dandelion extracts if you are taking prescription drugs. Dandelion is also available as a type of tea. Keep in mind that any herb, including dandelion, may cause allergic reactions in some people. If you have allergies, start with a small amount of dandelion tea before going all in.
Dandelion might provide health benefits for many. Since dandelion may also cause side effects, allergies, or interact with certain drugs, proceed with caution. As always, speak with your doctor before adding any new supplement to your diet.