Dandelions are scientifically called Taraxacum officinale. They aren’t just the annoying weeds standing out in your backyard. In traditional medicine, these were known to have been used for their medicinal properties.
Animal studies show that dandelion may help in the treatment of diabetes (1). More research sheds light on the possible health benefits of dandelions, including fighting inflammation and cancer.
Here, we will explore the different ways this flower may help promote your health and well-being.
Table Of Contents
What Are The Potential Health Benefits Of Dandelions?
The bioactive compounds in dandelions may help fight inflammation and even cancer. They may also help lower blood sugar levels. While their calcium and vitamin K content can strengthen bones, their iron content may help prevent anemia.
1. May Help Fight Inflammation
Cells treated with dandelion compounds were found to have lower levels of inflammation. The polysaccharides from dandelion possess anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties that play a promising role in this regard (2).
Dandelion works by reducing the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are compounds usually involved in the body’s inflammation (3).
In another study involving mice with lung inflammation, the introduction of dandelion (Taraxacum mongolicum, grown in China)was found to improve the condition (4).
2. May Cut Cancer Risk
Studies done on dandelion root (and lemongrass extracts) found that it had anti-cancer potential. The root was found to induce apoptosis (cancer cell death) and enhance the effects of chemotherapy. This study was conducted on prostate cancer cells (5).
Dandelion root extract could be a non-toxic and effective anti-cancer alternative. It was able to trigger programmed cell death of cancer cells in colorectal cancer models. The molecular complexity (a particular parameter involved in drug discovery) of the root extract could be responsible for this anti-cancer activity (6).
Though these findings are encouraging, more research is needed to understand and establish how dandelion may prevent and treat cancer in humans.
3. May Aid Diabetes Treatment
The chicoric and chlorogenic acids in dandelion possess great potential as anti-diabetic nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals for regulating diabetes. The acids contain phenolic compounds that may promote the flower’s anti-diabetic effects (1).
In a study, both dandelion leaves and the roots were found to have similar therapeutic effects on individuals with diabetes. These could promote the long-term health and well-being of the patients (9). However, the long-term effect of dandelion consumption needs to be investigated.
Other bioactive compounds in dandelion that offer anti-diabetic benefits include phenols, flavonoids, phenolic acids, and triterpenes. The root of dandelion contains inulin, which contains complex carbohydrates. These help normalize blood sugar levels (1).
4. May Promote Heart Health
Mice treated with dandelion extracts showed a dramatic decrease in the levels of triglycerides and cholesterol. When mice were fed a high-fat diet supplemented with the extract, there was reduced hepatic lipid accumulation observed (10).
Similar findings were observed in a rabbit study. In rabbits that were fed a high-fat diet, the introduction of dandelion root improved the antioxidant status and lowered serum cholesterol levels. The root combats oxidative stress as well and may promote heart health (11).
5. May Help In Weight Loss
Dandelion was found to have effects similar to a popular weight loss drug (Orlistat), which works by inhibiting pancreatic lipase. Pancreatic lipase is an enzyme released during digestion that assists in fat breakdown. Inhibiting this enzyme can alter the way fat is absorbed in the body, possibly aiding weight loss (14). However, further studies are required to elucidate the anti-obesity effects of dandelion in humans.
Dandelion is a bitter herb. Studies show that bitter herbs, when taken as teas prior to eating, can stimulate gastric secretions and promote cholesterol and fat breakdown. This way, they may complement your weight loss efforts (15).
6. May Promote Bone Health
Dandelion greens are good sources of vitamin K and calcium (12). Both these nutrients are associated with bone health.
Vitamin K is known to increase the formation of bone. It also can regulate calcium balance and bone metabolism. In addition to increasing bone mineral density, vitamin K also reduces fracture rates (16).
Calcium intake also influences bone health in a positive way. It plays an important role in preventing bone loss and fractures (17).
The compounds in dandelion contain prebiotics, which were found to enhance calcium absorption. This way, they also may a role to play in bone health (18).
7. May Improve Liver Health
Dandelion root may promote liver health in multiple ways. In a study, it could alleviate high-fat diet-induced non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and also reduce alcohol-induced oxidative stress (19).
Some research also suggests that dandelion can promote recovery from liver injury (20).
8. May Boost Immunity
The flavonoid contents of dandelion may have a major impact on the human immune system. It contains short-chain fatty acids, which were found to boost immune function and prevent infectious diseases in weaned pigs (21).
Dandelion also may nourish the blood cells in the body. Mice studies show it can help achieve normal red blood cells and white blood cells balance. This way, it may boost the immune system (22).
9. May Prevent Anemia
There is less information available in this aspect. Some research states that dandelion can help prevent anemia as it contains iron (23). One cup of chopped dandelion (55 g) contains about 2 mg of iron (12).
10. May Prevent Water Retention In Kidneys
The diuretic properties of dandelion can help here. Its high potassium content makes dandelion a good diuretic (24).
In a study, intake of dandelion increased the urinary frequency in subjects over a period of 5 hours (25). Hence, this plant shows promise as a diuretic in humans and may help prevent water retention in kidneys. However, if you have kidney disease, consult your doctor before using dandelion.
11. May Boost Skin Health
Studies show that dandelion extracts can protect the skin from UVB damage. They exhibited protective effects against photoaging (26).
In folk medicine, dandelion (especially the sap of the plant) was believed to be used to treat warts and eczema, among other skin disorders (27).
Some evidence also states that the sap of dandelion may be used to combat acne (28). However, more research is warranted in this regard.
These are the ways dandelion can make your life better. Though we know a few of the nutrients present in this plant, well, there is a lot more. In the following section, we will take a detailed look at dandelion’s nutrition profile.
What Is The Nutritional Profile* Of Dandelions?
|Nutrient||Unit||1Value per 100 g||1 cup, chopped = 55.0g|
|Total lipid (fat)||g||0.7||0.39|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||g||9.2||5.06|
|Fiber, total dietary||g||3.5||1.9|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||mg||35||19.2|
|Vitamin A, RAE||µg||508||279|
|Vitamin A, IU||IU||10161||5589|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||mg||3.44||1.89|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone)||µg||778.4||428.1|
|Fatty acids, total saturated||g||0.17||0.094|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated||g||0.014||0.008|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||g||0.306||0.168|
*values sourced from USDA, dandelion greens, raw
That’s an impressive nutritional profile, isn’t it? Including dandelions in your diet is quite easy. Up next, we will discuss a few simple ways to do just that.
How To Consume Dandelions
- The simplest way to consume dandelions is to include them in a salad. Just toss a few dandelion greens into your evening vegetable salad.
- Sauteéd dandelions are another good option. Cooking dandelions removes their bitterness. You can boil the greens for about 5 minutes and then transfer them to a pan with garlic and hot olive oil. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes. Eat as it is.
- You can also use dandelion flower petals in your preparations. You can add the petals to your bakery items like muffins, cookies, or even plain bread.
The most popular way of enjoying the goodness of dandelion is in the form of tea. But how do you make it?
How To Make Dandelion Tea
The process is simple.
- Throw the dandelion roots into a food processor and process.
- Dry them at 250o F in an oven until they are completely dry.
- Roast in the oven at 350o F until they turn brown.
- Add the roots to water in a pan and bring to a boil. You can add 2 tablespoons of the root for every 16 oz of water.
- Simmer for 20 minutes.
- Strain the liquid and drink.
What Is The Ideal Dosage Of Dandelions?
The American Botanical Council recommends the following doses (29):
- For the powdered root, the dosage is 3 to 4 grams, thrice daily.
- If you are taking a decoction, boil 3 to 4 grams of powdered root in 150 ml of water.
- In case of an infusion, you can steep 1 tablespoon of cut root in 150 ml of water.
- If you are having a tincture, stick to 10 to 15 drops, thrice daily.
If you are taking a dandelion supplement, you can follow the dosage prescribed by your health care provider. Dandelion has been given the generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status and approved by the US FDA for use as a supplement (30).
You can get the supplement here.
Before you start making dandelion a regular part of your diet, you need to be aware of its side effects.
Do Dandelions Have Any Side Effects?
- May Cause Allergies
Dandelions may cause allergic contact dermatitis. This can be attributed to the presence of compounds called sesquiterpene lactones, which are irritants. The symptoms of these allergies include dry and itchy eczema-like reactions (31).
- May Interfere With Blood Thinners
Dandelion is rich in vitamin K, which aids blood clotting. Dandelion may interfere with blood thinners like Warfarin (32).
- May Cause Kidney Failure In Susceptible Individuals
There is less research on this. However, a herbal remedy containing dandelion as one of the primary ingredients caused renal failure (33). If you have kidney issues, please avoid dandelion and check with your doctor.
There is no information on the safety of dandelion during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Hence, consult your doctor in this regard.
Though they seem like simple weeds, dandelions may have several benefits. However, more research is needed to establish these benefits for humans. Also, be aware of the possible side effects and consult your healthcare provider before including dandelion or its supplements in your diet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does dandelion tea contain caffeine?
No, it doesn’t. But there is dandelion coffee, which is a coffee-like blend with the effects of caffeine. You can get it here.
Does dandelion make you sleepy?
No, dandelion is not known to be a sleep-inducing food.
- The Physiological Effects of Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale) in Type 2 Diabetes, Journal of the Society for Biomedical Diabetes Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- TOP 1 and 2, polysaccharides from Taraxacum officinale, inhibit NFκB-mediated inflammation and accelerate Nrf2-induced antioxidative potential through the modulation of PI3K-Akt signaling pathway in RAW 264.7 cells, Food and Chemical Toxicology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Anti-inflammatory effect of Taraxacum officinale leaves on lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammatory responses in RAW 264.7 cells, Journal of Medicinal Food, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Anti-inflammatory effects of water extract of Taraxacum mongolicum hand.-Mazz on lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation in acute lung injury by suppressing PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Dandelion Root and Lemongrass Extracts Induce Apoptosis, Enhance Chemotherapeutic Efficacy, and Reduce Tumour Xenograft Growth In Vivo in Prostate Cancer, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Hindawi.
- Dandelion root extract affects colorectal cancer proliferation and survival through the activation of multiple death signalling pathways, Oncotarget, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Effect of Methanolic Extract of Dandelion Roots on Cancer Cell Lines and AMP-Activated Protein Kinase Pathway, Frontiers in Pharmacology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Selective induction of apoptosis and autophagy through treatment with dandelion root extract in human pancreatic cancer cells, Pancreas, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- The Effect of Dandelion Leaves and Roots on Blood Glucose in Type 2 Diabetic Patients, ResearchGate.
- Taraxacum official (dandelion) leaf extract alleviates high-fat diet-induced nonalcoholic fatty liver, Food and Chemical Toxicology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Hypolipidemic and antioxidant effects of dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) root and leaf on cholesterol-fed rabbits, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Dandelion greens, raw, United States Department of Agriculture, Food Products Database.
- Daily potassium intake and sodium-to-potassium ratio in the reduction of blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, Journal of Hypertension, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Pancreatic lipase inhibitory activity of taraxacum officinale in vitro and in vivo, Nutrition Research and Practice, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Using Herbal Remedies to Maintain Optimal Weight, The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Vitamin K and osteoporosis, Zhongguo yi xue ke xue yuan xue bao, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Calcium and bone, Clinical Biochemistry, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Prebiotic and Probiotic Regulation of Bone Health: Role of the Intestine and its Microbiome, Current Osteoporosis Reports, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Purification, Preliminary Characterization and Hepatoprotective Effects of Polysaccharides from Dandelion Root, MDPI Open Access Journals.
- Hepatoprotective properties of Dandelion: recent update, Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science.
- Effect of Dandelion root extract on growth performance, immune function and bacterial community in weaned pigs, Journal of Food and Agricultural Immunology, Taylor & Francis Online.
- The Effect of Taraxacum officinale Hydroalcoholic Extract on Blood Cells in Mice, Advances in Hematology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Iron and your health, Harvard Medical School.
- Evaluation of Dandelion for Diuretic Activity and Variation in Potassium Content, International Journal of Pharmcognosy, Taylor & Francis Online.
- The diuretic effect in human subjects of an extract of Taraxacum officinale folium over a single day, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Dandelion Extracts Protect Human Skin Fibroblasts from UVB Damage and Cellular Senescence, Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Dandelion, Kstate Research and Extension.
- Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- Dandelion root with herb, American Botanical Council.
- CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, US Food & Drug Administration.
- Phytodermatitis: Reactions in the Skin Caused by Plants, Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.
- Prevent Bleeding When Taking Blood Thinners, The Ohio State University.
- A brief study of toxic effects of some medicinal herbs on kidney, Advanced Biomedical Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
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