Although dandelion is often overlooked as just a pesky weed, it is actually a welcomed addition to both your kitchen and your medicine cabinet. Both the root and greens are packed with health-promoting properties, can tackle a wide range of health problems and the roasted roots can even make a delicious coffee substitute!
The small but potent dandelion can offer its help with:
This one time “cure all” herbal medicine has sadly become thought of as a weed by modern gardeners. Luckily, the humble dandelion is making a comeback, mostly due to increased research on its benefits and the astonishing findings – it can successfully deal with some serious illness without producing the damaging side-effects!
Several studies show dandelion root is useful in the prevention and treatment of cancer. What’s more impressive is that it does so wisely – it only kills the cancer cells, while doing no harm to the healthy ones.
A 2011 study out the University of Windsor in Canada treated skin cancer cells with dandelion root extract and found that it started killing off cancer cells within just 48 hours of treatment!
Another study in Oncotarget showed that dandelion root extract was able to kill 95 percent of colon cancer cells within two days – an impressive result no doubt, especially given that colon cancer is a major cause of death around the world.
It is often in life that the things we need most are right in front of us, and dandelion is a great example. It grows anywhere it can, it’s abundant all over cities and concrete, and it offers us a cure for some of the most dangerous illnesses of modern times, yet it is often overlooked and unwanted in gardens. So, next time you see this persistent little yellow head, you’ll know that hides a potent cocktail of healing benefits!
From filtering toxins to metabolizing drugs, the liver is essential to many aspects of health. If it gets clogged, the toxins soon start to build up in all of our organs, making the perfect environment for the development of illnesses. Dandelion is the perfect helper to keep your liver happy and healthy. It is one of the top cleansing herbs most commonly used and recommended by herbalists.
The Dandelion is especially good in detoxification of the liver, while also restoring hydration. It contains a bitter compound, ‘taraxacerin’ which increases the level of bile secreted by the gallbladder, helping the liver to detoxify more efficiently.
Amazingly, dandelion was also shown to prevented damage to the liver caused by alcohol toxicity.
Because dandelion root benefits the liver and causes it to produce more bile, it also simultaneously supports the health of the gall bladder, helping it to release sludge, cholesterol or calcium deposits that may cause gallstones further down the road.
High cholesterol is one of the major contributors to coronary heart disease. This waxy substance can build up in the blood vessels, causing arteries to become hardened and narrow and making it harder for blood to flow through.
When combined with regular physical activity and a healthy diet, including a serving of dandelion root or leaf in your day could help keep your heart healthy and ward off heart disease.
Dandelion is a great aid in keeping your cholesterol levels healthy. In one study, it was shown that dandelion led to a reduction in total cholesterol, triglycerides and bad LDL cholesterol as well as an increase in beneficial HDL cholesterol.
Dandelion supports the detoxification and cleansing of the digestive tract, especially from the effects of overconsumption of fatty foods, coffee and prescription medicines. It can be effectively combined with Milk Thistle – another digestive and liver supportive herb – to gently move toxins from the body.
Known as a “bitter tonic”, Dandelion stimulates digestion and acts as a mild laxative by softening the stool, thus preventing constipation. The bitter taste comes from the mineral sulphur, which is essential for protein synthesis, liver detoxification, enzyme activity, healthy skin, hair and nails.
Dandelion root also supports gut flora as it contains constituents such as inulin that act as a prebiotic – a specialized plant fiber that promotes the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the gut.
Allergies and Hayfever
When it comes to allergies, modern medicine has no answer or a long-term solution. Using anti-histamines can help you in the moment, but it doesn’t solve the underlying issue that causes allergies in the first place. Working with herbal remedies might take longer and require a bit more patience, but it gives us a holistic healing of the whole body, removing the root cause of the problem.
The liver is a very important organ whose health is connected to allergies and hayfever. When the liver is in a healthy state it produces an enzyme called histaminase which acts as a natural ‘antihistamine‘ to protect against and deactivate foreign invaders. If the liver is not functioning optimally it cannot produce histaminase.
Liver herbs, especially the Dandelion root, can be very beneficial to those who experience hay fever or allergies and making it a part of your daily routine can bring your liver and body to an optimal level of functioning and neutralize the allergic reactions.
Diuretic properties & Kidney health
The diuretic properties of Dandelion help remove excess fluid and salt from the body, which has been shown to lower blood pressure and treat a number of health-related problems. It also inhibits microbial growth in the urinary system, preventing and healing any infections in the kidneys or the bladder.
Dandelion’s astringent nature helps to pull out excess fluids and toxins from the liver (where they tend to concentrate) and releases them through the urine. Unlike other diuretics, which are known to drain away potassium from the body, Dandelion is a great choice due to its high potassium levels. It will release the toxins from your body, while keeping all the important elements needed for its proper functioning.
Relieves Skin Issues
The use of dandelion root can be very helpful for clearing up any kind of skin issue. Skin eruptions are directly connected to the liver which plays an important role in hormone regulation. When the liver is clean on the inside, the epidermis usually reflects this with vibrant healthy supple skin.
Liver herbs, like dandelion, are especially good for reducing acne, rashes and more chronic problems like psoriasis. Teas and extracts with dandelion root, in addition to following a health-promoting diet and lifestyle, can be extremely beneficial to the skin when used every day for a period of time.
Rich in Antioxidants
Free radicals are compounds that form in your body as a result of things like stress, pollution, and a poor diet. Over time, the accumulation of free radicals can lead to cell damage and chronic disease. Antioxidants can help neutralize free radicals and have been shown to reduce the risk of conditions like heart disease and cancer.
Every part of the dandelion plant is rich in antioxidants that prevent free-radical damage to cells and DNA, slowing down the aging process in cells. It is rich in vitamin C and vitamin A as well as beta-carotene, and increases the liver’s production of superoxide dismutase (SOD). Studies have shown that SOD plays a critical role in reducing internal inflammation and lessening pain associated with conditions such as arthritis.
Good for Weight Loss
Dandelion can be helpful for those looking to lose weight. Because dandelion root helps naturally detoxify the liver and body, they also encourage the release of excess body fat.
In addition, the bitter components help to metabolize fat and cholesterol which is important for weight loss.
In addition to its many other health benefits, dandelion root also possesses antimicrobial properties that can help stop the growth of disease-causing bacteria. A study in Ireland published in Phytotherapy Research showed that dandelion root was especially effective against certain strains of bacteria that are responsible for staph infections and foodborne illness.
The Bitter Taste
Dandelion root and dandelion leaves are known for their bitter quality. The ‘bitter taste’ in Ayurvedic medicine helps to break up congestion in the liver, decrease water retention and sooth/cool itchy skin conditions as well as improve digestion. It is good to include the bitter taste in your diet on a daily basis. This includes eating plenty of green leafy vegetables, like dandelion greens, as well as bitter root teas like dandelion root.
In the old days of herbal medicine, we would make something called ‘digestive bitters.’ This was a liquid extract with dandelion root or leaf as the main ingredient along with other digestive herbs and spices. When taken before meals it helps to stimulate the digestive juices.