They grow pretty much everywhere all the time and are mostly considered to be unwanted visitors to the garden. They spread like wildfire and are extremely difficult to get rid of as my garden loving wife will attest to.
Despite their reputation as an unwanted, ugly looking garden weed; dandelions are developing a flourishing reputation for their extraordinary health benefits. Dandelion is packed full of necessary vitamins as well as potassium, iron and zinc.
Dandelion is widely used for a wide range of medicinal purposes and is said to be able to treat conditions ranging from obesity to eczema as well as a variety of liver and stomach complaints. Throwing them away is a waste of a whole lot of goodness.
In fact just a cupful of the dandelion’s greens contains a good percentage of your recommended daily dose of many minerals including potassium, sodium and calcium. The same cupful of dandelion provides you with more than your daily requirement of vitamin A, a third of your daily requirement of vitamin C and get this… a whopping 535 percent of your recommended daily requirement of vitamin K.
This is why you now see Dandelion Root costing more than Romaine Lettuce at your Whole Foods. Despite its bad reputation with lawn owners–it has a lot too offer health wise.
So how exactly can this humble and prolific weed benefit your health and are all these lofty claims grounded in any sort of reliable science?
Let us take a look!
How to Consume Dandelion Root
For thousands of years, the Chinese and Indian cultures have used dandelion to brew tea for its medicinal properties. Dandelion is a little on the bitter side but the bitterness can be minimized through cooking.
The entire dandelion is considered to be edible from the flowers to the roots and dandelion root can be consumed in a variety of ways. Dandelion root is available in dried or fresh form and is found in capsules, liquid extracts, teas and tinctures.
You can buy ready-made dandelion root tea or if you’d prefer to be self-sufficient, you can easily make your own after a garden weeding session.
If you are growing your own–make sure the area has not been treated with Roundup (Glyphosate) or “weed and feed” chemicals (typically 2,4-D).
Health Benefits of Dandelion Root Tea
So what exactly are the benefits you will get from drinking dandelion root tea?
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, most research into dandelion root has been carried out on animals rather than people and there is still a lot of research that needs to be done before some of the claims are scientifically verified. Having said that, dandelion has been successfully used to treat a number of conditions.
Dandelions can do a great deal for the health of your bones. They are a good source of calcium and an outstanding source of vitamin K both of which are vital to bone strength.
A few cups of dandelion tea each day will go a long way towards making sure you are getting your daily dose of calcium while they provide 5 times more than the recommended daily dose of vitamin K. As well as protecting your bones from harm, the calcium found in dandelions can help strengthen your teeth, aid hormone secretion and help smooth muscle movement.
Rich source of Vitamin K
Dandelions are an excellent source of vitamins including Vitamin K which plays a vital role in bone health and blood clotting. There is emerging evidence that vitamin K can reduce the bone fracture risk in postmenopausal women.
Vitamin K is also absolutely essential to a variety of other body processes. It is often referred to as the forgotten vitamin but don’t let that moniker fool you. It helps fights tooth decay, helps brain function and supports the metabolism. It also protects the heart by preventing arterial calcification and cardiovascular disease.
Recent studies have even demonstrated that vitamin K might be an effective treatment in the fight against cancer. A large scale study published in 2014 using some 7,200 participants concluded vitamin K could significantly reduce both the risk of heart disease death and cancer. (1)
If you throw those dandelions away, you are saying goodbye to a great source of antioxidants and we need all the antioxidants we can get to prevent the cellular damage that the bombardment of free radicals causes. Antioxidants protect us specifically from cellular damage caused by oxidative stress which is inextricably linked to aging and disease.
Fortunately the antioxidants found in dandelion may help fight cancer. According to Canadian research published in 2010 dandelion root extract was able to induce apoptosis or cell death in melanoma cells which are notoriously resistant to chemotherapy. (2)
Urinary tract Infections
Drinking dandelion tea on a regular basis can help prevent infections of the urinary tract and also bladder conditions. It may even help prevent cysts from developing on female reproductive organs. According to research a combination of dandelion extract and another medicinal herb-urva ursi effectively reduced the number of urinary tract infections in female subjects.
It is a Natural Diuretic
Dandelion root is used as a treatment in a number of conditions where a diuretic may help the patient. Diuretics increase urine production in order to get rid of excess fluid and are used to treat liver complaints and hypo-tension.
Dandelion root works as a mild laxative and is used to encourage improved digestion. It can also work as an appetite stimulant and can help you to overcome an upset stomach.
Blood Sugar Levels
Scientific research carried out on mice suggests that dandelion root might help to stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce cholesterol. Drinking dandelion tea can be very beneficial to people with diabetes because it stimulates insulin production and controls glucose levels by keeping them low.
Dandelion tea can also help combat diabetes because of its natural diuretic effects. By drinking dandelion tea the body will be able to rid itself of the excessive amounts of sugar that are stored by the body.
Research on animals also suggested that dandelion root could help to reduce inflammation. Inflammation is thought to be the root cause of the vast majority of serious illnesses including heart disease and cancer. It can also help relieve inflammation of the joints and muscles and may be of great benefit to those suffering from rheumatism.
Liver and Gallbladder function
Research suggests that dandelion root might enhance liver and gallbladder function; however more research is necessary before this claim can be completely validated.
Animal research suggests that dandelion can help boost the immune system which is vital for fighting off illness. A strong immune system will help you to fight off common but extremely annoying sicknesses like colds and flu or protect you against catching them in the first place.
Dandelion Root Tea for Weight Loss
We are always looking for that edge in the fight to shed the extra flab so it’s great news that dandelion root tea might be your newest ally. As well as its other amazing health benefits, drinking dandelion root tea might well help you to drop those unwanted pounds.
All things being equal, simply replacing higher calorie drinks for dandelion root tea will make a noticeable difference to your weight. Like other herbal teas, dandelion tea is pretty much calorie free and over time, that calorific deficit will start to lean in your favor.
But that is not all; dandelion root is a natural diuretic which might help you to shift any excess fluids and water weight. According to Mary Koithan Ph. D. dandelion tea can be effective as part of a weight loss plan. She says it is best to drink dandelion tea some 30 minutes before a meal. It works for several reasons.
Drinking dandelion tea before your meal helps your digestive health by stimulating gastric secretions which promotes the breakdown of fat and cholesterol. Drinking dandelion tea before a meal also helps to satiate your appetite and basically makes you feel more full meaning you will probably eat less.
Dandelion Root Tea Detox
If you have been burning the candle at both ends and you are feeling more fatigued than usual, your poor liver might be in need of a detox. The liver is responsible for the efficient working of so many bodily functions that to neglect it would be extremely foolish.
Quitting alcohol and caffeine as well as other toxic food is a great start but you also need to be careful what you put into your body in their place. Dandelion root is a natural antioxidant with many cleansing properties; it helps to purify the kidney and might improve liver as well as gallbladder function.
Many well-known detox programs recommend drinking dandelion root tea because of its diuretic effect which allows the liver to eliminate toxins more quickly.
How to Make Dandelion Root Tea
Instead of buying ready prepared dandelion tea, why not try making your own. If you have dandelions spreading around your garden or you know someone that does, don’t just throw them away.
Make the most of the dandelions and give your body a treat. It is a very easy process and you can make your garden look a bit prettier at the same time.
Word of caution—if you are going to use home grown dandelions–make sure you or no one around you is spraying with pesticides.
How to Make Dandelion Root Tea
- Harvest the dandelion root
Dandelion roots are stubborn and will be more willing to come out after it has rained. Loosen the earth around the root and grab as deep as you can to pull it out.
- Trim the root; you can use the leaves in a juice or as part of a salad.
- Clean the roots and remove the stringy, fibrous parts.
- Cut the roots into ½ inch pieces.
- To get the best flavor, you should first bake the roots. Place them in the oven on a baking tray and cook them for about 2 hours at around 250 degrees.
- Remove the roots and chop them fine or grind them with your coffee grinder.
- Steep the root powder in a tea infuser or just pop them into a tea pot and add boiling water…let the tea infuse for between 10 and 15 minutes.
- Drink up and enjoy…add honey to sweeten it if you find it a little too bitter for you.
Side Effects of Dandelion Root Tea
Medical experts consider dandelion to be safe, however some side effects are possible:
- Some people might experience an allergic reaction from when touching dandelion.
- Some people may develop mouth sores from drinking dandelion root tea.
- Dandelion might cause a skin irritation in some people.
- Some people may experience an increase in stomach acid and indigestion from consuming dandelion.
- People with kidney or gallbladder complaints should ask for advice from a medical expert before consuming dandelion.
Possible Interactions with other Medication
Because dandelion acts as a diuretic, any drugs in your system may be forced out faster. Be sure to talk with your doctor if you are taking any medication before you drink dandelion root tea.
If you are already taking diuretic medication, you might be at risk of shedding too much fluid leading to dehydration or an electrolyte imbalance.
Dandelion might worsen the side effects of lithium which is taken for bi-polar disorders.
- Diabetes Medication
Dandelion might escalate the risk of blood sugar levels dropping further.
Anticoagulents like warfarin and aspirin are used to thin the blood; the risk of bleeding might be escalated by dandelion.
Antacids might not work properly because dandelion increases stomach acid levels.