Dandelion Herb

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Dandelion

This wonderful plant is one of the most common weeds on Earth. The ubiquitous dandelion’s ingenious seed-spreading adaptation is one of its most well known features. Is Mother Nature suggesting a need for this plant almost everywhere man dwells? Who among us has not blown the downy top of a dandelion and watched the tiny seedpods carried away in the wind? There are many different common names for the Taraxacum genus throughout the world originating from how the plant looks to what type of action it produces in the body. The French “dent-de-leon” meaning, “tooth of the lion” seems to be the derivation of our North American common name, Dandelion. The leaves do indeed resemble sharp teeth. Dandelion greens and roots have both been consumed by many different cultures as a food source and are both nutritionally dense and healthy choices.

What is Dandelion Used for?

Dandelion is a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, and C, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc. Dandelion leaves are used to add flavor to salads, sandwiches, and teas. The roots are used in some coffee substitutes, and the flowers are used to make wines. Traditionally, dandelion roots and leaves were used to support the liver. Native Americans also boiled dandelion in water and took it to support healthy excretion from the urinary tract, skin health, and upset stomach. In Traditional Chinese Medicine as well as European herbal Medicine Dandelion was and still is used to support the liver and gall bladder, to promote digestion and to support the detoxification process. The leaves have more of a noticeable effect for supporting healthy fluid elimination

Dandelion herb nutrition facts

Dandelion herb, revered since earlier times, is one of the most sought-after green-herbs to enliven your daily meals. Almost all the parts of the plant; leaves, flower tops, and root found use as culinary greens or as a curative remedy for certain medical ailments.

Botanically, Dandelion belongs to the family of Asteraceae; in the genus “Taraxacum,” and known scientifically as Taraxacum officinale. Some of the common names for this greens are priest’s crown, Irish daisy, monk’s head, blow ball and lion’s tooth.

Dandelion plant is believed to have originated in the Central Asian region, from where it become naturalized in many parts of the temperate and semi-tropical regions including the Mediterranean. It is a very hardy plant that grows vigorously everywhere in the fields, lawns, and meadows. It features elongated, stout taproot from which, long-jagged dark-green leaves arise directly from the ground surface in a radiating fashion.

Golden yellow color flowers appear at the end of hollow-stalks by late spring to early autumn. Its hollow flower stalks filled with sweet-scented nectar, attracting bees. Flower-stalks rise straight from the root.

Health Benefits of Dandelion Root

Can the common weed treat diabetes and liver injury?

Although most people think of dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) as a pesky weed, the plant has long been used in herbal medicine to aid in digestion and help stimulate appetite. The entire dandelion plant from root to blossom is edible with a slightly bitter, chicory-like taste.

The root itself is sometimes roasted to create caffeine-free dandelion coffee. When used for medicine, the dried or fresh root can be made into teas, tinctures, decorations (infusions), and poultices. Dandelion root is also available over the counter in capsule form.

In traditional Chinese and Native American medicine, dandelion root has long been used to treat stomach and liver conditions. Herbalists today believe that it can aid in the treatment of many ailments, including acne, eczema, high cholesterol, heartburn, gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, and even cancer. Some of the claims are better supported by research than others.

Dandelion is also known as poo gong yi in traditional Chinese medicine and simhadanti in Ayurvedic medicine. Its English folk name “piss-a-bed” and French nickname “pissenlit” both refer to the root’s strong diuretic effect.

Health Benefits

Despite its long-standing use in traditional medicine, there is a lack of scientific evidence supporting the medicinal use of dandelion root. While a number of animal and laboratory studies have been conducted, few have progressed to human trials.

Blood Pressure

Diuretics, also known as “water pills,” are commonly used to treat high blood pressure, heart failure, liver disease, and some types of kidney disease. While valuable, the drugs may cause side effects, including muscle cramps, headaches, dizziness, and changes in blood sugar.

Some scientists believe that dandelion’s diuretic properties may have medical uses, including the treatment of prediabetes or premenstrual bloating and water retention.1

A 2009 study, overseen by the National Institutes of Health, found that a single dose of dandelion extract increased the frequency of urination—but not the volume—in the 28 volunteers within five hours of a dose.

While the researchers were unable to determine how dandelion triggered this effect, the frequency/volume suggests that the extract may function as a bladder irritant. Further research is needed to determine whether ongoing exposure to an extract may cause side effects.

Skin Damage

In folk medicine, dried dandelion root is often ground into a paste and mixed with water to create a soothing paste for skin disorders like acne, eczema, psoriasis, rashes, and boils.

While there is little evidence that dandelion can treat these conditions better or faster than leaving the skin alone, it does appear to have mild anti-inflammatory and antipruritic (anti-itching) properties. Research also suggests that it may help prevent sun damage.2

A 2015 study from Canada reported that dandelion extracts are able to block harmful ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation when applied to the skin, protecting it from sun damage while lowering the risk of skin cancer.

While this suggests a potential avenue for drug development, dandelion is also known to cause contact dermatitis in some people, especially children.3 As such, you need to take care when applying any dandelion remedy to the skin to avoid an allergic response.

Diabetes

Dandelion root is believed to have anti-diabetic properties due to a soluble fiber known as insulin.4 Inulin contains a complex carbohydrate known as fructooligosaccharide (FOGS) which supports the growth of healthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract and eliminates the unhealthy ones. This alone increases insulin sensitivity by slowing the flow of sugar from the intestines to the bloodstream, preventing spikes in either your blood sugar or insulin levels.

A 2016 review of studies from Aarhus University in Denmark suggested that dandelion extract also stimulates pancreatic cells to produce insulin, better controlling blood sugar and avoiding hyperglycemia.

Liver Injury

Dandelion is often consumed as a tonic under the presumption that it “cleanses” the liver. There is some evidence, albeit sparse, to support this long-standing claim.5

A 2010 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology reported that mice fed a dandelion root extract experienced a significant slowing in the progression of liver scarring (fibrosis) compared to mice given a placebo.

According to the research, the extract was able to inactivate the primary cells involved in fibrosis, called hepatic stellar cells. Doing so all but lifted the oxidative stress on the liver, allowing the liver to heal and slowly regenerate.

Cancer

Preliminary research suggests that dandelion root may have promise as an anti-cancer agent. It does so by inducing apoptosis, also known as programmed cell death, in certain cancer cells.6 Apoptosis affects all of the cells of the body, allowing old cells to be replaced with new ones. With cancer, apoptosis ceases, allowing the tumor cells to grow unimpeded.

A 2012 study from the University of Windsor in Canada reported that dandelion root extract was able to induce apoptosis in pancreatic and prostate cancer cells in test tube studies, either slowing their growth or preventing their spread.

No other cancer cell types were affected in this study. Several later studies have shown that different dandelion root extracts were able to trigger apoptosis in leukemia and melanoma.6

While the studies are promising, further research is needed before dandelion root can be recommended for either the prevention or treatment of cancer.

Possible Side Effects

Dandelion root is generally considered safe and well tolerated in adults if consumed in moderation. Some people may experience side effects, including heartburn, diarrhea, upset stomach, and irritated skin.7

If you are allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigold, chamomile, feverfew, yarrow, or plants in the Asteraceae family (such as sunflowers and daisies), you should avoid dandelion root as it may trigger rash, watery eyes, and other allergy symptoms. Dandelion also contains iodine and latex, so avoid it if you have allergies to either of these substances.

Pregnant women, nursing women, and children are advised to avoid dandelion remedies due to the lack of research into their long-term safety. It is also possible that consuming too much dandelion may reduce fertility in women and testosterone levels in men due to a substance in the plant, called phytoestrogen, which mimics estrogen.8

Drug Interactions

Dandelion can interact with certain drugs, either affecting how the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream, metabolized by the liver, or cleared from the body in urine. Speak with your doctor if you are taking a dandelion remedy along with any of the following drugs:

  • Antibiotics like Cipro (ciprofloxacin) and Penetrex (enoxacin)
  • Antidepressants like Elavil (amitriptyline)
  • Anti psychotics like lithium and Haldol (haloperidol)
  • Diuretics like Las ix (furosemide)
  • Estrogen-based contraceptives
  • Sta-tin drugs like Mevacor (lovastatin) and Litigator (atorvastatin)

In some cases, a dose adjustment may be needed. Other drugs may also be affected, so never hesitate to tell your doctor about any herbal, naturopathic, homeopathic, or traditional medicine you may be taking.

Dosage and Preparation

There are no guidelines for the appropriate use of dandelion root in the United States. However, in Europe, both the European Commission and the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia recommended the following range of doses considered safe for adults.9

  • Fresh dandelion root: 2 to 8 grams daily
  • Dandelion root powder: 3 to 4 grams mixed with 150 milliliters of warm water
  • Dandelion tea infusion: 1 tablespoon of chopped root mixed with 150 milliliters of hot water for 20 minutes
  • Fresh root extract: 1 to 2 tablespoons daily
  • Dried dandelion extract: 0.75 to 1.0 grams daily

Dandelion root supplements are also available in drugstores and vitamin supplement stores, along with tinctures, teas, extracts, ointments, powders, and dried organic root.

As a rule of thumb, never exceed the dosage recommended by the manufacturer. If you experience side effects of any sort, stop treatment and call your doctor.

What to Look For

Dandelion root remedies are classified as dietary supplements by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and do not need to undergo the stringent testing that pharmaceutical drugs do. Because of this, the quality of the products can vary.

To ensure the highest quality and safety standards, purchase supplements that have been independently tested and certified by a recognized authority like the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), Consumer Lab, or NSF International.

For added safety, choose dandelion products that have been certified organic to avoid exposure to pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

Dandelion readily absorbs pesticides, heavy metals (such as lead, nickel, copper, and cadmium), and other substances from the environment, so it is generally not a good idea to eat wild dandelion if the purity of the soil, water, and air are unknown.

When buying a supplement, don’t be swayed by claims that it can cure or treat any specific disease. Under the FDA labeling laws, it is illegal to do so. Claims of these sorts are rarely supported by clinical evidence.

13 Potential Health Benefits of Dandelion

Dandelion are a family of flowering plants that grow in many parts of the world.

They’re also known as Taraxacum spp., though Taraxacum officinale is the most common species.

You may be most familiar with dandelion as a stubborn weed that never seems to leave your lawn or garden.

However, in traditional herbal medicine practices, dandelion are revered for their wide array of medicinal properties.

For centuries, they’ve been used to treat a myriad of physical ailments, including cancer, acne, liver disease and digestive disorders.

Here are 13 potential health benefits of dandelion, and what science has to say about them.

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, fol ate 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 insulin, 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. Contain Potent Antioxidants

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. May Help Fight Inflammation

Dandelion may be effective in reducing inflammation caused by disease due to the presence of various bio active 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.

Some test-tube studies have revealed significantly reduced inflammation markers in cells treated with dandelion compounds

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. May Aid Blood Sugar Control

Chicoric and chlorogenic acid are two bio active 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. May Reduce Cholesterol

Some of the bio active 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. May 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. May 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 (13Trusted Source).

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 (4Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).

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.

Share your questions and concerns with Health line so we can provide helpful information for you.

8. May Aid Weight Loss

Some research indicates that dandelion and their bio active 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. May 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. May 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 insulin. Research indicates that insulin has a strong capacity to reduce constipation and increase intestinal movement

11. May Boost Your Immune System

Some research indicates that dandelion may have antimicrobial and antiviral properties, which could support your body’s ability to fight infection.

Several test-tube studies found that dandelion extract significantly reduced the ability of viruses to replicate

Research also indicates that some of the active compounds in dandelion protect against various harmful bacteria

Ultimately, more research is needed to draw definitive conclusions about dandelion’s ability to fight viral and bacterial infection in humans.

Have medical questions? Connect with a board-certified, experienced doctor online or by phone. Pediatricians and other specialists available 24/7.

12. May Be a Useful Skincare Treatment

Animal and test-tube research indicate that dandelion may protect against skin damage from sunlight, aging and acne.

In one study, dandelion leaf and flower extracts protected against skin damage when applied just prior to or immediately after exposure to UVB radiation (sunlight). Interestingly, dandelion root was not effective in the same way

One of the characteristics of aging skin is a decrease in the production of healthy, new skin cells.

One test-tube study showed that dandelion root extract increased the generation of new skin cells, which could slow the aging process

Additional research indicates that dandelion extract may reduce skin inflammation and irritation while also increasing hydration and collagen production. This may be useful in preventing and treating certain types of acne

Reliable human research is still needed to better understand how dandelion may support skin health.

13. May Support Healthy Bones

Very little research has been conducted on dandelion’s effect on bone health, though some of its individual nutritional components contribute to the maintenance of strong, healthy bones.

Dandelion greens are a good source of calcium and vitamin K — both of which are associated with the prevention of bone loss

Inulin, a fiber found in dandelion root, may also support healthy bones through improved digestion and the promotion of healthy gut bacteria

Dosage and Supplement Forms

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

Possible Risks and Side Effects

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 antibiotic

If you’re taking any prescription medications, always consult your healthcare provider prior to taking dandelion.

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