‘Dandelion’ – though the name seems rather unfamiliar, most of us have come across this herb and ignored it considering it just another weed. But the fact remains that this herb can do miracles for your health! I’m sure this must have aroused your curiosity in dandelion and its potential benefits. Dandelion is also known as ‘Dudal’ in Hindi, ‘Simhadanti’ in Telugu, ‘Dugddhapheni’ in Malayalam, ‘Kuttu’ in Marathi, ‘Kaadu Shaavanthi’ in Kannada, and ‘Pitachumki’ in Bengali. Here are some of the skin, hair and health benefits of dandelion.
Dandelion is a flowering plant belonging to the Asteraceae family. It is mostly found scattered in lawns, meadows, gardens and even on pavements. It has its origin in Central Asian regions and grows naturally in temperate and semi-tropical regions. It is a hardy plant with long taproots and long dark green leaves that rise directly from the ground, radiating in all directions. It is known by strange names such as priest’s crown, monk’s head, Irish daisy, and even lion’s tooth. Dandelion root is fleshy and dark brown in color with white pulp inside. This is the bitter milky latex which is also found in the stems and leaves but more concentrated in the root. This plant also bears golden yellow flowers which rise straight from the roots at the end of the hollow stalks. These flowers bloom in late spring to early autumn. More than food, dandelion is used as an ornamental plant for the purpose of decoration.
However, this herb is highly nutritious with almost all the parts of the plant including leaves, flower tops and root providing several health benefits. The leafy portions of the plant are known as dandelions greens which are considered a nutritious vegetable. They are used in several recipes, green salads, and smoothies. Dandelion root has medicinal properties and is used for drying and grinding of coffee. Fresh dandelion leaves as well as dried herb are available in health food markets. This herb is also available in the form dandelion tea, capsules, and tinctures. Apart from its culinary uses, it is beneficial in the treatment of several medical conditions.
Skin Benefits Of Dandelion
The rich plethora of nutrients in dandelion helps in maintaining skin health and preventing skin problems. Thus, incorporating dandelion in your diet can provide various benefits to your skin given below.
1. Treatment Of Acne
As stated earlier, dandelion juice is a great detoxifier, diuretic and antioxidant. These properties make it effective for the treatment of acne. This disorder is caused due to hormonal imbalance and mostly occurs during teens when the body undergoes physiological and hormonal changes. This leads to the accumulation of toxic substances which tend to come out through the sweat glands or sebaceous glands on the skin and when mixed with dead skin, block the pores and cause acne. Microbial infections in the affected area further aggravate this condition.
Dandelion juice regulates the secretion of hormones and widens the pores, thus facilitating the removal of toxins through sweating and urination. Dandelion sap can be applied topically on acne to inhibit microbial infection. Vitamin C in it speeds up the healing process, thus reducing the visibility of scars and red inflammation that often accompanies acne. Dandelion tea can also be consumed to prevent acne. All you need to do is steep one to two teaspoons of dandelion root or leaves in a cup of water. This will rid your body of toxins that cause acne.
2. Treatment Of Skin Diseases
Dandelion sap known as dandelion milk is effective in treating skin diseases caused by microbial and fungal infections. This is because the dandelion sap is highly alkaline in nature and exhibits powerful germicidal, fungicidal and insecticidal properties. It can be used for the treatment of itchiness, eczema, warts, athlete’s foot, ringworm, and other similar conditions without any side effects. However, you need to be careful while using it so as to avoid any contact with the eyes.
3. Treatment Of Burns And Stings
The inside portion of dandelion flower stems can be used as a smoothening agent for the treatment of burns and stings such as nettle allergy or bug bites which are quite painful. The leaves and roots of this plant have been used in Chinese medicine to treat poison ivy, sunburns, and hives.
4. Anti-aging Benefits
Being rich in antioxidants, dandelions provide anti-aging benefits, thus reducing the appearance of fine lines, age spots and wrinkles around the eyes and lips. Besides nourishing your skin, this herb helps tone and firm up sagging and unbalanced skin.
Hair Benefits Of Dandelion
Natural herbs are rich in vitamins and minerals which nourish your hair and dandelion is no exception. Both consumption and topical application of this herb provide the following benefits to your hair.
5. Stimulates Hair Growth
Dandelion root is a rich source of vitamin A, C, and E as well as B-complex vitamins. Besides, it contains choline, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, biotin and calcium all of which play an important role in making your hair strong as well as stimulate hair growth.
6. Treatment Of Dandruff
Dandelion is rich in iron which helps in keeping dandruff at bay. For this purpose, you can try having dandelion supplements or simply dandelion root tea or dandelion salad.
7. Treatment Of Greasy Hair
Dandelion is effective in getting rid of excess oil or sebum accumulated in the scalp. Thus, if you have greasy hair, you can simply steep dandelion leaves or roots for about 20 minutes. Strain this mixture and use it on your hair as a final rinse. Ensure to condition your hair after this to prevent loss of moisture.
Health Benefits Of Dandelion
Dandelion is a storehouse of nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, protein as well as B-complex vitamins. It is thus, obvious that this herb has a long list of health benefits to its credit.
8. Aids Digestion
Dandelion is a mild laxative, a tonic, and an appetite suppressant. Thus, it promotes digestion and relieves digestive disorders by balancing the natural and beneficial bacteria in the intestines. It is also a good remedy for dyspeptic complaints. The high levels of dietary fiber in dandelion promote healthy bowel movements as well as relieve constipation and diarrhea. It is also beneficial in treating serious gastrointestinal issues.
9. Controls Blood Pressure
Being a diuretic, dandelion lowers high blood pressure by increasing urination. The fiber in dandelion reduces cholesterol while potassium replaces sodium. Both these factors play an important role in blood pressure regulation. Dandelion juice is quite effective for this purpose.
10. Treatment Of Liver Disorders
Dandelions contain antioxidants like vitamin C and luteolin which promote optimal functioning of liver and protect it from aging while other compounds in dandelion can treat liver hemorrhaging. They also stimulate the liver by maintaining the proper flow of bile. Dandelion is a great liver detoxifier.
11. Treatment Of Kidney Disorders
The rich content of sodium in dandelion root helps in eliminating the toxins accumulated in the body. It stimulates the kidneys by removing waste, salt, and excess water, purifying blood and replacing the loss of potassium. Besides, it inhibits microbial growth in the urinary system.
12. Treatment Of Gallbladder Disorders
Dandelion improves the functioning of the gallbladder and protects it from the harmful effects of oxidants and infections. It also prevents gallbladder problems by increasing bile production and reducing inflammation.
13. Treatment Of Urinary Tract Infections
Dandelion leaf is an excellent diuretic which promotes frequent urination. Its disinfectant properties eliminate toxic substances from the urinary system and inhibit bacterial growth, thus preventing urinary tract infections.
14. Prevents Anaemia
Dandelion has a high content of iron, protein and vitamin. Iron is an important component of hemoglobin in the blood while vitamin B and protein are vital for the formation of red blood cells and other components of blood. Thus, it helps keep anemia in check.
15. Anti-inflammatory Properties
The healthy fatty acids and phytonutrients in dandelion reduce inflammation throughout the body. This property is beneficial in relieving pain and swelling.
16. Bone Health
Dandelions have a high content of calcium which is vital for the growth and strength of bones while antioxidants like vitamin C and Luteolin protect bones from age-related damage. They are also exceptionally rich in vitamin K, which builds bone mass by promoting osteotropic activity in the bones. Free radicals damage your body including your bones, leading to bone frailty and loss of density. Incorporating dandelions in your diet can prevent these conditions.
17. Promotes Weight Loss
Our urine comprises of nearly 4% fat. By promoting frequent urination, dandelion aids in the removal of water and fats from the body. Thus, it promotes the loss of water weight without any side effects. Moreover, like most leafy greens, dandelions are low in calories. They are sometimes even used as sweeteners as they do not contain unhealthy sugars.
18. Treatment Of Jaundice
Jaundice is a liver disorder caused due to the overproduction of bile which enters the bloodstream and adversely affects the body’s metabolism. This excess bile becomes visible through the color of skin and eyes in the form of a yellow tint. Jaundice can be cured by curbing production of bile, eliminating excess bile from the body and treating viral infection. Dandelion is useful in both the cases. As stated earlier, it regulates bile production. Secondly, being diuretic in nature, it facilitates the elimination of excess bile through frequent urination. Thirdly, its antioxidant and disinfectant properties attributed to the presence of vitamin C and luteolin, help fight viral infections to reap greater benefits of dandelion, it should be taken with sugarcane juice to replace the sugar which has been drastically lowered due to excess bile. Dandelions also help boost energy levels after infection thus preventing extreme fatigue and weakness caused due to lack of sugar.
19. Helpful In Diabetes
Dandelion juice has been found to be effective in regulating the blood sugar levels as it stimulates the production of insulin from the pancreas. It also facilitates elimination of excess sugar from the body by increasing urination. Diabetics are at a greater risk of renal problems. Dandelion is beneficial in this regard as prevents sugar deposition in the kidneys through frequent urination. By keeping blood sugar levels consistently low and regulating insulin release, dandelion prevents dangerous spikes and plunges in sugar levels.
20. Prevents Cancer
Dandelion leaves are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients which can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Antioxidants like vitamin C and luteolin reduce the free radicals, thus lowering the risk of cancer. Being a detoxifier, dandelion prevents the development of tumors and cancers. Luteolin, on the other hand, poisons the essential components of cancer cells, thus rendering them ineffective and unable to reproduce. This property is particularly beneficial in the prevention of prostate cancer.
21. Boosts The Immune System
Certain studies have shown that dandelion boosts immune function and prevents infection by fighting off microbes and fungi.
22. Improves Brain Health
Dandelion is a rich source of Vitamin K. It provides more than 600% of the recommended value of Vitamin K. The high levels of vVtamin K in dandelion roots fight neuron damage in the brain, preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
23. For A Better Vision
Dandelion contains zeaxanthin, a carotenoid that protects the retina from the UV rays. Regular consumption of dandelion juice also prevents macular degeneration.
24. Natural Detoxifying Agent
The roots make a wonderful colon cleanser. It improves digestion and removes the wastes, detoxifying the body.
25. Helpful For Removing Warts
Dandelion is highly recommended for removing warts. The roots of dandelion, when opened, exude a sticky white resin. Apply the sticky resin to the warts daily or several times a day to dissolve it.
26. Prevents Formation Of Gall Bladder Stones
Dandelion root increases the production of bile in the body, preventing gall bladder blockage and stones. It improves its functioning and protects them from the ill effects of the oxidants and infection. Dandelion also helps to heal dyspepsia, various infections affecting the stomach, intestine, and urinary system.
27. Natural Remedy For Constipation
The high levels of dietary fiber in dandelion root make it very beneficial for digestion and intestinal health. Regular consumption of dandelion root adds bulk to the stool, reducing the chances of constipation. It regulates regular bowel movement, preventing gastrointestinal problems. It is also useful for stimulating appetite, particularly after surgery.
28. Other Benefits
Dandelion greens are rich in nutrients which reduce the risk of cancer, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, multiple sclerosis, and stroke. Their anti-inflammatory properties are beneficial in asthma and other inflammatory diseases.
[ Read: Health Benefits of Dandelion Roots ]
- Dandies are generally considered safe for consumption, but some people may have allergic reactions to it. People allergic to chrysanthemum, marigold, chamomile, yarrow, ragweed and daisy should avoid consuming dandelion.
- People taking blood sugar modulator should not consume dandelion root juice, as it can cause hypoglycemia, a very serious health condition. It may also cause potassium toxicity in the body.
- The milk sap of dandelion can cause itchiness, irritation, and skin rashes. Inulin, a rare type of fiber in dandelion, can also cause allergy in some people.
- Even though it had been used for improving the breast milk secretion in ancient days, it is advisable for pregnant and nursing women to take the advice of their physician before adding dandelion to their diet.
But, all good comes with a little bit of bad! Dandelion too comes with some side effects. Some of them are:
1. Ragweed Allergy
Dandelion might cause allergic reactions when taken internally or when applied to the skin. Individuals who are prone to have allergic reactions to ragweed and other related plants such as marigolds, daisies, chrysanthemums are also likely to be allergic to dandelion flowers. If you have such allergies, do consult with your physician before taking dandelion.
2. Interaction With Antibiotics
Dandelion might also decrease the absorption of antibiotic in the body. The combination of dandelion and antibiotics might reduce the effectiveness of certain antibiotics. The antibiotics, such as Grepafloxacin, Enoxacin, Sparfloxacin, Ciprofloxacin, Norfloxacin, Trovafloxacin interact with dandelion.
3. Lithium Interaction
Dandelion can cause diuretic-like effect on the body. Dandelion consumption might increase the amount of lithium in the body, resulting in chronic side effects. Consult your doctor before taking dandelion if you are taking lithium. Your lithium dosage has to be changed to ensure no adverse effect on the body.
4. Water Pills Interaction
Certain water pills might increase the potassium level in the body. Dandelion flower contains a large amount of potassium. Taking dandelions with some water pills might result in excess amounts of potassium in the body, which can be dangerous. Water pills, such as Spironolactone, Triamterene, and Amiloride increases potassium level in the body.
5. Not Approved By FDA
Dandelion has not been approved and evaluated by FDA for purity, safety, and effectiveness. There are no regulated manufacturing standards for dandelion. A number of cases have been reported where this herb supplements were found to be laced with toxins, such as drugs or metals. Thus, dandelion supplements should be purchased from trusted sources to reduce the chances of such contamination.
6. Stomach Discomfort
Stomach discomfort is one of the most common side effects of drinking dandelion in the form of tea. This discomfort is due to the increase in the level of gastric acids produced in the stomach. It causes persistent pain in the stomach similar to ulcer pain. This pain generally subsides by itself, but if it persists, you need to visit your doctor.
7. Gastrointestinal Effects
An upset stomach is another common side effect of dandelion consumption. Loss of appetite, nausea, bloating, and flatulence are the symptoms of an upset stomach. Some individuals might experience increased heartburn, stomach acid, diarrhea when consuming dandelion. If you are taking antacids or other medications to decrease the acid in the stomach, then avoid taking dandelion.
If these symptoms persist, make an appointment with your doctor.
8. Lowers Blood Sugar Level
Dandelion can also lower blood sugar level in the body. Blurred vision, cold sweat, shaking, dizziness, tingling sensation of hands or feet, fast heartbeat are some of the symptoms of low sugar level. If you suffer from diabetes and are on medication to control the same, make sure you consume minimal amounts of dandelion to avoid your blood sugar levels from plummeting.
9. Pregnancy And Breast Feeding
The effect of dandelion during breastfeeding and pregnancy is not known. But, it is better to err on the side of caution and avoid using dandelion when pregnant or lactating.
10. Other Side Effects
Many individuals might also experience itching, rash, swelling, breathing trouble, severe dizziness on taking dandelion.
Nutritional Value Of Dandelion
Dandelion is among the top four green vegetables in terms of its nutritional value. Besides being the richest green vegetable source of beta-carotene, it is loaded with minerals like iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium and phosphorus.
The in-depth nutritional profile of dandelion is explained in the table given below.
|See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:Dandelion herb greens (Taraxacum officinale), Fresh, Nutrition value per 100 g (Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)|
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.70 g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber||3.50 g||9%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.084 mg||1.5%|
|Vitamin A||10161 IU||338%|
|Vitamin C||35 mg||58%|
|Vitamin E||3.44 mg||23%|
|Vitamin K||778.4 µg||649%|
- Calories: Fresh dandelion leaves are low in calories with 100 grams serving providing just 45 calories.
- Fiber: Dandelion is also a good source of dietary fiber with 100 grams serving contributing 9% of its Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA).
- Vitamin A: Dandelion is an excellent source of vitamin A. A 100 grams serving of dandelion provides 10161 International Units (IU) which is equivalent to 338% of RDA of this vitamin.
- Vitamin C: Dandelion greens are particularly rich in vitamin C, providing 58% of the RDA per 100 grams.
- Vitamin K: Dandelion is one of the richest herbal sources of vitamin K with 100 grams serving providing 650% of the RDA of this vitamin.
- B-vitamins: In addition to vitamins A, C, and K, dandelion is also rich in B-complex vitamins like folic acid, riboflavin, pyridoxine, and niacin.
- Calcium: Among the minerals, dandelions are particularly rich in calcium. A cup of chopped dandelion greens provides 103 mg of calcium, contributing 10% of the recommended daily value of this mineral.
- Protein: A cup of dandelion greens provides 1.5 grams or 14% of the RDA of protein.
Do you use natural herbs to stay healthy? Can you share your experience with dandelion?