What are Dandelions?
Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are a species of flowering plants from the Asteraceae family. Youâ€™re probably already familiar with these pesky green and yellow weeds, since they like to take over your nice green lawn in the summer. But did you know that these annoying weeds are actually loaded with vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, B, C, D, and K, as well as minerals like iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and potassium? They also contain flavonoids such as apigenin and luteolin. Therefore, it is not surprising that dandelions have been used to make syrups, wines, and teas. Their leaves are occasionally used in soups, salads, and sandwiches, while the roasted roots can be used as a coffee substitute.
What are the Health Benefits of Dandelions?
Given the rich vitamins and minerals contained in dandelion, it is not surprising that it has been used to treat many health conditions for centuries. Although there are limited clinical studies on its medical effectiveness, there are documented cases of it being used to treat skin infections, viral infections, edema, UTI, stomach problems, gallstones, inflammation, menstrual cramps, muscle and joint aches, eczema, high cholesterol levels, low blood circulation, and even tuberculosis1. More recently, it has become an extremely popular herb for detox diets and liver cleansing routines2.
Fresh Dandelion Root Tea Recipe
If you prefer to use fresh dandelion root to make your dandelion tea, you can try the following simple recipe:
- Dig up some dandelions from your yard, but avoid using any that may have been treated with pesticides. The roots can become very long, so try to dig as deep as possible to extract the whole plant.
- Separate the root from the leaves and stem, and then wash the roots with cold water. You can save the rest of the plant for other uses if desired.
- Boil 4 cups of water in a saucepan on the stove.
- Coarsely chop the dandelion roots and add 2 teaspoons of the chopped roots into the saucepan containing the boiling water.
- Cover the saucepan and let the roots simmer in the saucepan for 1 minute.
- Turn off the heat and let the dandelion root steep in the saucepan for 45 minutes.
- Using a strainer, pour the tea into a cup. The strained roots can be discarded.
- Since dandelion is bitter, you can add some honey or stevia as a sweetener.
Fresh Dandelion Leaf Tea Recipe
To make tea from fresh dandelion leaves, simply add one-quarter cup of fresh leaves into a mug, and then fill the rest of the mug with boiling hot water. Let the leaves steep in the tea for 10 minutes before drinking.
Home Remedies Using Dandelion
Edema or Water Retention
The leaves of dandelion are known to have a diuretic effect on the body which can help increase the amount of urine our body makes. If youâ€™re suffering from edema or water retention, more frequent urination is beneficial. Therefore, drinking a cup of tea made with dandelion leaves twice daily may be an effective home remedy for edema and excess fluid retention in the body3. Please refer to our dandelion leaf tea recipe above.
Preliminary studies on animals suggest that Dandelion may help lower total cholesterol and triglycerides while raising HDL cholesterol4. A suggested remedy to lower cholesterol is to drink one cup of Dandelion leaf tea daily.
High Blood Pressure
Minerals such as potassium, magnesium and calcium may help lower hypertension. Since Dandelion leaves contain all three minerals, it has the potential to help regulate blood pressure levels. Therefore, drinking one cup of Dandelion leaf tea daily may be beneficial for this condition.
Research suggests that Dandelion leaf extract may help with acute liver conditions 5. Since dandelion is also a natural diuretic1, and many liver problems are associated with fluid retention, drinking one cup of dandelion leaf tea daily may be beneficial to promote a healthy liver.
Herbalists classify Dandelion as an alterative or depurative herb, meaning that it acts as a blood purifier and metabolism regulator which can help neutralize acids in the blood. It also encourages the liver to produce more bile, a greenish yellow fluid that the body uses to digest dietary fats and remove toxins from the body. Without bile, gallstones may develop. Therefore, drinking one cup of dandelion leaf tea daily can be beneficial for preventing gallstones.
Research suggests that the dandelion plant contains flavonoids that have anti-inflammatory effects that may help relieve inflammation associated with skin infections, boils, arthritis and menstrual cramps6. Drinking one to two cups of dandelion leaf tea daily may help with these conditions.
Dandelion root contains apigenin and luteolin, and research suggests that these two substances have antioxidant properties that may help inhibit various types of cancers1. Another study suggests that dandelion has anti-angiogenic activity and can stop tumours from growing their own blood vessels7. Therefore, drinking 1 to 2 cups of Dandelion tea daily may help suppress the proliferation of cancerous cells.
Dandelion has anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain relief) activity6. Also dandelion contains minerals and vitamins which are essential for clear and radiant skin. Simply applying cold Dandelion tea with a cotton ball all over the face every night before going to bed works as a great natural toner to prevent acne and promote vibrant skin.
A dandelion mask can also be used to achieve healthy, acne-free skin. To make the mask, simply grind 3-4 dandelion flowers, and then mix in 1 tsp of raw honey and one quarter cup of plain yogurt. Apply this mask mixture all over the face and neck and leave it on for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the mask by massaging it gently in a circular motion, and then wash your face with warm water.
Acne can also be caused by hormonal imbalances and a build-up of toxins in the body due to a liver malfunction. Since dandelion helps improve the performance of your liver5, drinking one cup of dandelion root tea daily may be beneficial to treat acne breakouts and skin infections.
Digestive and Stomach Problems
Dandelion root can act as a mild laxative and can therefore be used for the treatment of constipation. Dried or fresh dandelion leaves can also help to stimulate appetite, improve digestion, and reduce flatulence. Therefore, drinking dandelion root tea twice daily may help treat constipation, while drinking a cup of dandelion leaf tea after a meal can help treat indigestion and flatulence.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Since dandelion has diuretic activity3, drinking 1-2 cups of dandelion root tea along with 8-10 cups of water throughout the day may help increase urine flow and flush out bacteria from the urinary tract and the bladder.
Colds and Coughs
Dandelion has antioxidant properties, which are beneficial when suffering from a cough or cold. Drinking one to two cups of Dandelion tea may help boost the bodyâ€™s immunity when suffering from such conditions.
A study shows that B vitamins help reduce stress. Dandelion contains B vitamins, and has shown to be an effective remedy for stress relief8. Drinking one cup of dandelion tea after a long and hectic day may help relieve stress.
What are the Side Effects of Dandelions?
Dandelion is generally considered safe when used in moderation and as prescribed. However, people who are allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigold, chamomile, yarrow, daisies, or iodine should avoid dandelion because they might be allergic to dandelion too. If you are taking any medication such as antacids, blood thinners or antiplatelets, diuretics, ciprofloxacin, lithium, and/or taking medication for kidney, gallstone or gallbladder, consult a herbalist or a doctor before taking dandelion since dandelion also has similar medicinal activity. Also if you are currently taking any medication, donâ€™t consume dandelion in any form for a few hours before and after taking your medication because Dandelion has diuretic activity and may cause the medication to leave your body too quickly. Dandelion tea should be used for periods of up to 4-6 weeks continuously, and then resumed after a one to two week break.
There is insufficient information available regarding the use of Dandelion for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Therefore, it should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation. It should also not be given to young children.
Some people with sensitive skin may experience skin irritation. Therefore if you experience any undesirable symptoms, discontinue use.
Where and How to Buy Dandelions?
Dandelion can be purchased at any herbal or natural food store. It is available in tea bag form, capsules, and liquid extract. When buying Dandelion tea be sure to check the ingredients since there are two popular types of teas - Dandelion Root tea and Dandelion Leaf tea. Since the roots and leaves have different health benefits, choose the one which works best for your particular condition as discussed earlier.
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