Is it spring yet? It’s getting closer to that time of the year—more so in some parts of the country than in others—and this is the time dandelions will start popping up. Did you know these annoying flowers actually pack amazing health benefits? Some of these benefits include protecting your bones, cleansing your liver, helping you have better-looking skin, helping you with digestion, and helping your heart health.
Dandelion comes from the French word “dent-de-lion” and means “lion’s tooth.” (FYI: EdLyn means “noble protector.”) According to the University of Maryland, “Native Americans also boiled dandelion in water and took it to treat kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and upset stomach.” The Chinese also used dandelion to treat problems with the stomach.
What is Dandelion?
Dandelion is officially identified as an herb by WebMD. Both the roots and the parts above the ground are used in medicine.
The University of Maryland states, “Hundreds of species of dandelion grow in the temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and North America.” They can grow up to about a foot. The flower itself opens when the sun comes up and closes when the sun goes down or in gloomy dark weather.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says that dandelions are generally safe to eat but “some people are allergic to dandelion; allergic reactions are especially likely in people who are allergic to related plants such as ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, and daisies.”
Both parts—the greens and roots—of a dandelion are highly nutritious. The “greens” come from the leaves. It is noted they have a bitter, earthy taste and can be eaten in a variety of ways, including steamed, raw, or sautéed. Dandelions can be used in salads and teas. The root is normally in a powdered form.
Other forms dandelion can be found in include: liquid extract, tablets, teas, and capsules.
Five Benefits of Dandelion
As stated before, this flower has many surprising health benefits. Who knew, especially when they are just growing in your backyard?
Here are the benefits of consuming this herb:
1. Protect Bones
Dandelion protects your bones. This is mainly due to it having calcium which is important for strong bones. Plus, drinking it in a tea or chewing on the stems helps the health of your teeth.
In addition, dandelion has Vitamin K which some say is even better for your bones than calcium. Vitamin K can even help prevent fractures.
2. Helps Digestion
Dandelion helps digestion. According to the University of Maryland, “The leaves are used to stimulate the appetite and help digestion.” Dandelion is noted for increasing bowel movement with its laxative properties. In addition, it can also increase the flow of urine which can be beneficial for fighting urinary tract infections.
A study by International Food Sciences and Nutrition entitled, “Functional Foods with Digestive Enhancing Properties” published in 2011 looked at various plants and how they help with digestion. The study concluded that plants with the most “digestion-enhancing activities” backed up by evidence include dandelion. Others that made the list include ginger, peppermint, and artichoke.
3. Helps Liver Flush Toxins
Dandelion can help stimulate the appetite. “Preliminary research suggests that dandelion may help improve the liver and gallbladder function,” the University of Maryland says. Also, dandelion can “detoxify the liver.”
This is great because the liver flushes out harmful toxins, helping the liver detoxify. The liver is important because it breaks down fat in the body and helps out of the blood by getting rid of the impurities, or toxins, in it. Dandelion aids in this by helping with the right flow of bile.
The Republic of Korea’s Department of Food and Nutrition did a study at one of their colleges, Chonnam National University, on dandelion root and the liver. The study found dandelion root can even prevent damage to the liver.
4. Improves Skin Health
If you are suffering from dry skin, you might want to consider adding dandelions to your diet. Because of the high antioxidant level in dandelions, they can help your cells, including the cells in your skin.
Free radicals damage the skin; by drinking dandelion tea you can avoid this damage. A study by the University of Windsor (Canada) in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry was conducted in 2011. This study analyzed the effects of dandelion root extract and free radicals. The study found dandelion was indeed effective in killing free radicals and even hinted it could potentially kill certain types of cancer.
5. Heart Health
What makes this flower even better is that it is good for your heart as well and clears out your blood vessels, which leads to better blood pressure numbers. This is done by decreasing the number of triglycerides found in your blood—high levels of these put people at risk for heart disease.
According to the University of Maryland, “Studies suggest that dandelion may help normalize blood sugar levels and lower total cholesterol and triglycerides while raising HDL (good) cholesterol.”
These amazing health benefits should change your perspective on dandelions. Hopefully, you no longer view these as pesky flowers! They have amazing health benefits that often go overlooked.