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Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is more commonly known as a garden weed. However, its medicinal benefits have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of ailments ranging from everyday health issues such as digestive distress to chronic conditions such as tumors.
Dandelion is a member of the Asteraceae family and has been used as medicine for a long time. Grown mainly in Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Romania, and the Himalayan regions of India where it is known as kanphool, the dandelion plant is used in its entirety. (1)
Dandelion is rich in nutrients and polyphenols. Its roots contain the carbohydrate inulin (which helps in the elimination of pathogens in the stomach and intestines, obesity, osteoporosis, and even cancer), carotenoids, fatty acids, minerals, vitamins, pectin, and mucilage. (1)
Top Reasons to Consume Dandelion Roots
Here are the major health benefits of dandelion roots and why you should be consuming them as part of your diet.
1. Aids in diabetes management
Dandelion roots can stimulate the production of insulin in the pancreas. This decreases blood sugar levels by driving glucose into the cells. (1)
2. Provides anti-obesity effects
Dandelion extracts prevent the accumulation of fat by improving its digestion. (2)
Furthermore, animal studies have found dandelion extracts to also protect the liver from the accumulation of fat and the consequences of a high-fat diet (such as fatty liver disease). (3)
3. Can lower cholesterol levels
Atherosclerosis is one of the main causes of heart diseases. It is the accumulation of fat (in the form of cholesterol) within the walls of blood vessels.
Animal studies have shown dandelion supplementation to reduce total cholesterol and triglyceride levels while improving LDL (good cholesterol) levels. (4)
4. Lowers high blood pressure
Dandelion has high sodium content; 100 g of leaves contains 397 mg of potassium, and this may be helpful in reducing blood pressure as high dietary intake of potassium helps in clearing sodium from the body via urine. (5)
Dandelion also has anticoagulant and diuretic properties, which can help in normalizing blood pressure levels. (5)
5. Protects the heart
6. Promotes digestion
Dandelion has also been used as herbal medicine to cure stomach ailments.
In an animal study, dandelion improved the passage of food from the stomach to the small intestines. (6)
7. Boosts immunity
Dandelion exhibits antibacterial and antiviral activities.
Animal studies have shown dandelion roots to have an effect on the virus causing hepatitis B. It prevents the multiplication of viruses by blocking their multiplication process. (7)
8. Keeps the liver healthy
As mentioned earlier, dandelion roots also prevent damage to the liver caused by elevated blood sugar levels and fatty liver. (3)
The rich phytochemical profile of dandelion can also prevent chronic liver injury, and its antioxidant activity can reduce damage to the liver caused by free radicals. (8)
9. Preserves skin health
The antioxidant capacity of dandelion can also be beneficial for skin health. Its antioxidants can prevent skin damage caused by free radicals, which can cause wrinkling and premature skin aging. (9)
10. May reduce the risk of cancer
Different parts of dandelion have a beneficial effect on various types of cancers. Its roots have been studied for their protective effect against colorectal cancer by causing cancer cell death. (10)
Dandelion has also an effect on melanoma cells. Test-tube studies have shown dandelion extracts to be toxic to cancer cells but have no effect on healthy cells. (11)
In traditional folk medicine, dandelion is also used to treat breast cancer and improve estrogen activity. (12)
How to Consume
Dandelion roots can be consumed fresh or dried. About 2–8 g of fresh roots can be consumed daily with no side effects. (1) They can be added to salads and stir-fries or cooked as a side dish. Supplements with dandelion extracts are also available that can be safely consumed.
Some people also prefer using dandelion syrups or dandelion-infused honey, which may also have some of the benefits of dandelion.
Who should avoid consuming dandelion roots?
People taking certain medications such as blood thinners for diabetes or heart diseases should avoid taking dandelion and its products. (13)
Can dandelion tea be consumed?
Dandelion tea can be made from dried dandelion roots or leaves and is generally safe for consumption.
Dandelion and its parts find their spot in the treatment of many ailments as part of traditional medicine.
From lowering blood pressure and managing blood cholesterol levels to protecting the heart, dandelion root can also lower blood sugar levels and safeguard the body against damage caused by free radicals.
Dandelion is generally safe for daily consumption with no side effects. However, avoid dandelion consumption when taking blood thinners as it may cause more harm than good.