I am sure many of you are familiar with the dandelion plant. This common garden weed has proven to be very beneficial to humans. People drink the teas, eats the roots or leaves and there are even dandelion supplements that help with numerous health issues. Today, we will discuss dandelion’s benefits, how it should be consumed, the possible risks and side effects.
A brief history of Dandelions
Its name originates from the words Dens Leonis, which translates to “lion’s teeth” in French, possibly referring to the plant’s tooth-like leaves. The English changed this phrase to dandelion. According to folklore, dandelions adopted the term piss en lit because of their significant diuretic characteristics.
The plant originated in Asia and Europe and is documented in ancient manuscripts, and Arabian physicians utilized it in medicine in the tenth and eleventh centuries. However, it was first recorded in European history in the 13th century when the Welsh utilized it. The Chinese and Indians also used the plant to heal liver illnesses and digestive difficulties.
Nicholas Culpeper, an English botanist, herbalist, and physician, noted the dandelion’s capabilities of clearing blockages in the liver, gallbladder, and spleen in his 1789 book Culpeper’s English Physician and Complete Herbal:
“…it wonderfully openeth the passages of urine, both in young and old; it powerfully cleanseth aposthumes, and inward tumors in the urinary passages, and, by during the temperate quality, doth afterwards heal them; for which purpose the decoction of the roots and leaves in white wine, or the leaves chopped as pot-herbs with a few alisanders, and boiled in their broth, is very effectual.
Another botanist and herbalist, John Gerard, published a book, The Herball in 1630, that talked about many dandelion remedies:
“Boiled, it strengthens the weake stomacke, and eaten raw it stops the bellie and helps the Dysentery, especially being boyled with Lentils; The juice drunke is good against the involuntary effusion of seed; boyled in vinegar, it is good against the paine that troubles some in making of water [urinating];”
It was from these men that we learned about the many uses of this diverse plant that are still used today.
Dandelion is a nutrient-dense plant. It is a good source of all vitamins except for vitamin D.
It also includes:
This plant is also rich in proteins and carbohydrates. Alsp, the high fiber content of dandelion adds to its laxative and cleansing qualities.
Benefits of Dandelion
Dandelion has a substantial amount of antioxidants, which might explain why it has so many medical qualities. Antioxidants are chemicals that help neutralize free radicals, which are a byproduct of regular metabolism.
Free radicals increase the risk of chronic illness if levels in your body get too high. As a result, antioxidants are essential for maintaining your body’s health. In addition, dandelions are high in the antioxidant beta carotene, which protects cells from oxidative stress and damage.
Certain components found in dandelion, such as polyphenols, decrease inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to damage or infection, but long-term inflammation harms bodily tissue and our DNA.Research conducted has shown that cells treated with dandelion byproducts showed a considerable reduction in inflammatory markers.
Helps produce insulin
Scientists believe that inulin, a soluble fiber found in dandelion root, has anti-diabetic qualities.
Fructooligosaccharide is a form of complex carbohydrate found in inulin (FOS). This carbohydrate promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal system while suppressing the growth of harmful bacteria.
As a result, decreasing the movement of sugar from the intestines to the circulation improves insulin sensitivity. This prevents blood sugar and insulin levels from rising too high.
Also, dandelion extract encourages the pancreas to create insulin, according to a 2016 assessment of research from Aarhus University in Denmark. An increase in insulin helps blood sugar regulation, which helps decrease the chance of an individual having high blood sugar.
Boost the immune system
Dandelions contain antiviral and antibacterial properties, according to researchers. Dandelion extract decreases the capacity of viruses to multiply and defend against a variety of dangerous germs. A 2014 study discovered that dandelions reduce the growth of hepatitis B in both human and animal cells.
Dandelions contain bioactive chemicals that aid in cholesterol reduction. In 2010, researchers studied the effects of dandelion intake in rabbits. According to the study’s findings, dandelion root and leaf can help decrease cholesterol in rats fed a high-cholesterol diet. Researchers concluded that dandelion might one day aid in the treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease caused by obesity.
Regulating Blood Sugar
Dandelion’s bioactive chemicals, chicoric and chlorogenic acid, help lower blood sugar levels. These substances appear to enhance the release of insulin. Insulin controls blood sugar levels and the absorption of glucose in your muscles.
In animal tests, chicoric and chlorogenic acid inhibit the digestion of starchy, high-carb diets, which contribute to dandelion’s ability to reduce blood sugar levels. In addition, some studies suggested in 2016 that the antihyperglycemic, antioxidative, and anti-inflammatory characteristics of dandelion aid in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
Promote liver health
Dandelion extract protects against liver illness and damage. In one study, it prevented liver damage in mice exposed to sodium dichromate, a substance intended to cause liver injury. Also, dandelion extract has lowered the levels of excess fat accumulated in the liver and protects against oxidative stress, in animal experiments.
May reduce blood pressure
There is not much evidence to back up the usage of dandelion to decrease blood pressure. However, dandelion is used in traditional herbal medicine for its diuretic effect, which is based on the concept that it may cleanse particular organs.
Diuretics rid the body of excess fluid which can lower blood pressure levels; hence they are commonly used in Western medicine. Dandelion was proven to be an efficient diuretic in an older human investigation. However, this research only included 17 participants.
On the same note, dandelions are a good source of potassium; which lowers blood pressure. For instance, people who took potassium supplements had lower blood pressure, especially if they already had high blood pressure, according to a study.
Supports healthy digestion
In traditional medicine, dandelion is frequently used to relieve constipation and enhance digestive function. Some compounds found in dandelions enhance the digestive tract. Dandelion contains large amounts of inulin, a prebiotic fiber that helps with constipation and food movement through the digestive tract.
Promotes bone health
Although some of the minerals in dandelion help the preservation of strong, healthy bones, little study has been done on its influence on bone health. Dandelions are high in calcium and vitamin K, two nutrients that are important for bone health. Furthermore, some studies show that dandelion’s antioxidants aid bone health and protect against bone loss by reducing oxidative stress.
Keeps skin healthy
UV radiation causes significant harm to the skin and accelerates the aging process. In a 2015 research on skin cells in a test tube, dandelion minimized the harmful effects of UV radiation. Protecting the skin from UV exposure can help a person maintain a youthful appearance for a longer time.
One study discovered that dandelion leaves and flowers protect the skin against UVB radiation, when administered soon before or after exposure.
An older test-tube study found that dandelion root extract stimulated the production of new skin cells, which might help your skin appear younger as you get older.
In addition, dandelion extract also minimizes skin inflammation and irritation while improving hydration and collagen synthesis in previous studies; which aids in the prevention and treatment of some forms of acne.
Risks of Dandelion & possible side effects
- Dandelion’s diuretic characteristics may accelerate the passage of drugs through your system. In other words, dandelions may rush your medication through your system before it has a chance to help you. It also affects the way your liver breaks down drugs, making some stronger and others weaker.
- While some sites recommend dandelion for stomach problems such as indigestion, it may increase the number of stomach acids generated.
- Dandelion consumption may raise the risk of bleeding, thus anybody on blood-thinning medication should avoid it.
- Dandelion is also thought to exacerbate lithium’s adverse effects.
- Upset stomach
- Irritated skin
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat
Possible Allergic Reaction
Some people have hay fever-like reactions to dandelion flowers. According to UMM, anyone who is allergic to chamomile, chrysanthemums, daisies, marigold, ragweed, or iodine should avoid dandelion. Also, dandelion sap, when applied directly to the skin, can induce contact dermatitis and other allergic responses.
People who are allergic to dandelion may experience rash, watery eyes, and other allergy symptoms. Dandelion also includes iodine and latex, so it is best to avoid it if you are allergic to either.
Do not use dandelion with any herbal or health product that might impact blood coagulation. Angelica (dong quai), capsicum, clove, danshen, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, horse chestnut, panax ginseng, poplar, red clover, saw palmetto, turmeric, and willow are among the herbs in this category.
There is not sufficient data on the long-term safety of dandelion treatments, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children should avoid them. It is also likely that eating too much dandelion can lower women’s fertility and men’s testosterone levels. Phytoestrogen a plant molecule that mimics estrogen is to blame.
How does dandelion promote weight loss?
According to certain studies, dandelion assists people in achieving their weight loss objectives. The capacity of dandelion to boost glucose metabolism and minimize fat absorption, according to some researchers, contributes to weight loss. This notion, however, has yet to be properly validated.
How to take dandelion
If you are thinking about using herbal supplements, talk to your doctor first. You might also want to talk to a practitioner who specializes in herbal/health supplement use.
It is generally advised to take one capsule every morning. However, different supplement companies may suggest different doses. As a result of this, you must follow the instructions on the packaging or those provided by your doctor, pharmacist, or another health care practitioner.
Dandelions may provide a variety of health advantages. However, further study is needed to confirm dandelion’s efficacy in people for many of the claims. Dandelions are high in nutrients and can be a healthy addition to a person’s diet or supplement regimen. Before using any supplement, consult with your doctor to discuss potential hazards and interactions with other drugs.