Most people are familiar with dandelion even if they don’t realize it. You probably know it as a stubborn weed, but those yellow flowers that pop up in your yard every year actually have health benefits! In fact, people have been using dandelion for centuries in herbal and folk medicine. Not surprisingly, there’s been a renewed interest in dandelion thanks to the natural health movement. Today, you can buy dandelion greens and tea in the grocery store. Keep reading to discover the benefits of dandelion, uses for dandelion, and dandelion tea benefits!
Uses for Dandelion
Dandelion can be used in many of the same ways that other herbs are used. It’s a versatile plant, which makes it easy to add to your personal care routine.
Yes, you can eat dandelion. In fact, it’s just as nutritious as many of the vegetables you eat. From its roots to its flowers, dandelion is loaded with nutrients, including vitamins A, K, C, and E. It also contains some trace amounts of B vitamins and folate.
Dandelion greens contain essential minerals, like magnesium, iron, potassium, and calcium. The root is rich in inulin, a soluble fiber that supports healthy gut bacteria.
Dandelion can be used topically. The leaves and flowers can be used in a poultice to treat skin conditions, or tinctures can be applied to the skin as well.
The root of the dandelion plant can be dried and used for tea, but some people also brew dandelion tea using the whole, fresh plant.
If you don’t mind the flavor, tea is an easy way to enjoy the benefits of the dandelion plant.
Dandelion Plant Benefits
The dandelion plant, whether used as a whole plant or in supplement form, can offer many benefits.
Loaded with Antioxidants
Dandelion is rich in potent antioxidants that help fight free radicals. Although free radicals are a natural byproduct of metabolism, they can damage cells, accelerate aging and even contribute to disease. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals.
Dandelion contains high amounts of beta-carotene, which is known to help fight against oxidative stress and cell damage. This plant also contains polyphenols, which are another type of antioxidant.
May Fight Inflammation
Dandelion contains several compounds, like polyphenols, that can help fight against inflammation.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or illness. But excess inflammation over a long period of time (a.k.a. chronic inflammation) can cause irreversible damage to DNA and the body’s tissues.
Some test-tube studies have shown that the compounds in dandelion can help reduce inflammation markers.
In one study, mice with inflammatory lung disease saw a great reduction in lung inflammation after receiving dandelion.
May Help Regulate Blood Sugar
The dandelion plant contains two compounds that can help regulate blood sugar levels: chlorogenic acid and chicoric acid.
Animal and test-tube studies have found that these two compounds can help improve the absorption of glucose in muscles and boost insulin secretion from the pancreas. This helps lower blood sugar levels while improving insulin sensitivity.
There is also evidence that chicoric acid and chlorogenic acid can help with the digestion of starchy carbohydrates.
May Help Boost Your Immune System
There is some evidence that dandelion has antiviral and antimicrobial properties, which can help the body better fight off infection and illness.
May Protect Against Sun Damage
Research shows that dandelion may protect against damage from the sun, aging, and acne. One study found that dandelion extract (leaf and flower only) prevented skin damage caused by sunlight exposure.
Another study found that dandelion root extract helped stimulate skin cell generation, which may help slow the aging process.
Other research has found that dandelion extract can help reduce inflammation and irritation of the skin while boosting collagen production and improving hydration.
Support Bone Health
Dandelion greens are a great source of vitamin K and calcium, which help support strong and healthy bones.
The root of the plant also contains inulin, which promotes bone health and a healthy gut.
Dandelion Tea Benefits
Dandelion tea is a convenient and easy way to enjoy many of the benefits that this plant offers. Some of the benefits linked specifically to dandelion tea include:
May Promote Liver Health
Dandelion tea is often promoted as a detox tea because of its effects on the liver. For centuries, dandelion root has been used in folk medicine as a liver tonic, and studies have shown that the plant can help boost bile flow.
One study from 2017 found that the polysaccharides in the dandelion plant do benefit liver function.
Dandelion tea is believed to help detoxify the liver, help with eye problems, and even promote skin health.
May Reduce Water Weight
One great benefit of dandelion tea is that it can help with bloating. Dandelion acts as a diuretic, which means that it increases urine output.
In one study, dandelion boosted urine output after drinking just two cups of dandelion tea made from the leaves of the plant.
May Promote Weight Loss
Dandelion tea may help promote weight loss. One Korean study found that the plant has similar effects as the weight loss drug Orlistat.
Orlistat helps boost weight loss by inhibiting the pancreatic enzyme lipase, which is released during digestion to help break down fat. That study, which was conducted on mice, found that dandelion had similar effects.
May Help with Digestion
Like many other herbs, dandelion has been used as a remedy for digestive issues. Making tea from dandelion roots is believed to help alleviate constipation, soothe digestive discomfort and even boost appetite.
May Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are common. In fact, they’re responsible for more than 8.1 million doctor visits each year. While UTIs require medical treatment, dandelion may be able to help prevent them in the first place.
Dandelion is only effective for UTI prevention if it’s paired with the herb uva ursi. The antibacterial compounds in uva ursi are what help prevent infection, and dandelion’s diuretic effects help flush bacteria.
How to Use Dandelion & Dandelion Side Effects
Dandelion is a versatile herb. It can be eaten whole, raw, steamed, or brewed as a tea. Its leaves, flowers, and roots can be dried and drank as tea. You can find dandelion supplements, and tinctures are also available for topical or oral use.
Everyone reacts to dandelion differently. For some people, consuming the fresh plant can have a laxative effect. If this is your first time trying dandelion, it’s best to start with a small amount to gauge your reaction.
While there are no official dosage recommendations, there is some data that suggests the following daily amounts:
- 4-10 grams of fresh or dried leaves
- 2 teaspoon of leaf juice
- 2-8 grams of fresh roots
- Up to 4,000 mg dried powder
Dandelion is generally safe, but some people are allergic to the plant. If you have sensitive skin, dandelion can also cause contact dermatitis.
If you're taking any medications, talk to your doctor before adding dandelion to your routine. The plant can interact with some medications, particularly antibiotics and diuretics.
Dandelion offers many health benefits, and because it’s so versatile, it’s easy to add to your routine. Whether you prefer to eat it whole, take it in supplement form or drink it as a tea, there are so many ways to realize the benefits of dandelion.