Dandelion Health Benefits

The dandelion herb has been used for centuries to promote good health. It is full of vitamins, minerals, and other natural chemicals the body can use to overcome illness. Not only does it have medical uses, but it also has popular culinary uses.

What Is The Dandelion Herb?

Taraxacum officinal, meaning “the official remedy for disorders”, is a perennial herb with a long, brown taproot. The leaves are jagged and pointy. They grow close to the ground and outward from a central point. They are a dark green on the edges and a lighter green towards the center. The stems are light green to a dark reddish purple.

The flowers are a bright yellow on the outside to a dark orange in the center. When the flowers are mature, they turn into a white puffball of seeds that scatter everywhere when the wind blows. The scattered seeds sprout into new plants. Every part of the dandelion exudes a milky substance when it is damaged. The name Dandelion comes from the French word for Lion’s Tooth, Dent de Lion, because the leaves are jagged like teeth. Other names for Dandelion are:

    Benefits of the Dandelion

  • Blow Ball,
  • Cankerwort
  • Puffball
  • Pu-kung-ying
  • Telltime
  • White Endive
  • Wild Endive
  • Swine’s Snout
  • Pu Gong Ying
  • Dent de Lion
  • Priest’s Crown.

Where Does It Come From?

The dandelion herb is thought to have originated in Europe and Asia, but it can now be found throughout the northern hemisphere, including the United States. Most people consider the dandelion a weed, especially when it takes over their front lawn! However, it is also grown and cultivated for medical and edible uses. When used for medicine, the dandelion can be taken in powdered or liquid form.

There are several ways to make a liquid dandelion extract. To make a tea, steep the dandelion in water. A tincture can be made by adding either alcohol or glycerin to the tea. If alcohol is used, the tincture is preserved for up to three years and it is absorbed more easily than if glycerin is used. However, glycerin tastes better.

To make the powder, they use a low temperature distillation process that removes the active ingredients from the raw herb. The liquid is then condensed and dried to make a fine powder, which is put in gelatin capsules.

The History and Origin of the Dandelion

The first recorded use of dandelion for medicinal purposes is from the Arabians around 900 AD; however, it is believed the Chinese were using dandelions long before that. Dandelion is believed to be one of the original bitter herbs used for Passover in the Bible. There are records of the Welsh using it in the 13th century.

The pilgrims brought it to North America. In 1620, when the Mayflower arrived, there were no dandelions in America. By 1671, they were growing abundantly all over what is now the United States.

How the Dandelion is Used Today

Today, the dandelion has both medical and culinary uses. Dandelion greens are one of the most nutritious greens available. One cup of raw greens has:

  • 112% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A
  • 535% RDA of vitamin K
  • 32% RDA of vitamin C
  • 103 mg of calcium
  • 1.7 mg of iron
  • 218 mg of potassium.

Additional Uses

They are also a good source of beta carotene, lutein, vitamin H, which has been proven to help weight loss, and over two dozen other nutrients. Dandelion greens add color and texture to salads, stir-fry, and soups. The greens are the leaves. It is best to harvest them in early spring, well before the last frost is expected. They need to be gathered before the flowers bloom or they will be bitter. The best time is when the leaves have just emerged.

The root is also used for culinary purposes. It can be added to soups or ground up and roasted to make a drink similar to coffee without the negative side effects. The root of the dandelion is full of vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients, including inulin, which is helpful in controlling diabetes.

Drinking dandelion coffee helps stimulate the digestive system. It is best to harvest the roots in early spring or late fall when most of the nutrients are stored there. The flowers are used for making dandelion wine and dandelion fritters. They are good for the antioxidant luteolin, which is found in them.

Benefits of the Dandelion Herb

Dandelion herb has been associated with improving liver function and liver diseases such as hepatitis and jaundice. It is a strong diuretic that does not deplete potassium in the body. It has been shown to improve both constipation and diarrhea. It purifies the blood, cleanses the digestive system, removes heavy metals from body tissues, and can help dissolve kidney stones. It has been shown to help weight loss, cure acne, lower high blood pressure, cure anemia, lower serum cholesterol levels, reduce acid indigestion and gas, improve some cancers, and help control diabetes all with no negative side effects. The dandelion herb is full of so many vitamins, minerals and micronutrients that alone might be the reason it is so beneficial in so many different areas.

  • The sodium in dandelions is thought to reduce the inflammation of the liver.
  • Vitamin A helps fight cancers in the mouth and the lungs.
  • Potassium, along with magnesium, has been shown to help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke.
  • Dandelions are full of both potassium and magnesium.
  • The fiber in dandelions lowers cholesterol, is beneficial to diabetes, and fights cancer and heart disease.
  • Calcium has been shown to build strong bones and reduce high blood pressure.
  • B vitamins lower the effects of stress.
  • Romanian lab mice lost 30% of their body weight in 30 days by taking a dandelion extract with their food.

Helpful Chemicals

Along with all the vitamins and minerals in the dandelion, there are also numerous chemicals that are important in many bodily functions.

Inulin is converted into fructose as it is digested. Fructose does not use insulin, which results in a slower rise in blood sugar making it ideal for those with diabetes or hypoglycemia.

  • Tof-CFr is similar to lentinan, which has been proven to fight cancer cells in Japanese lab mice.
  • Pectin helps diarrhea; it removes heavy metals, and lowers cholesterol especially if it is combined with vitamin C. The dandelion herb has both.
  • Coumestrol mimics estrogen. It stimulates milk production and balances hormones.
  • Apigenin and luteolin are diuretics, antioxidants, and antispasmodics. They have liver protecting properties and strengthen the heart and blood vessels. They are antibacterial and estrogen mimics.
  • Gallic Acid helps diarrhea and is antibacterial.
  • Linoleic and linolenic acid are fatty acids the body needs to produce prostaglandins that regulate blood pressure, suppress inflammation, regulate the menstrual cycle, and prevent platelet aggregation.
  • Choline has been shown to improve memory.
  • The dandelion herb has many sesquiterpene compounds that are thought to give it its bitter taste. These compounds promote good digestion, liver, spleen, and gall bladder function. They are also antifungal.
  • Triterpenes are helpful for liver and bile stimulation.
  • Taraxasterol is good for the liver and gall bladder. It also balances hormones.

Purchasing Options

Dandelion is sold as capsules, tea leaves, powder, or tincture. Capsules are easy to take and have little taste. Teas can be enjoyable and relaxing, while tinctures are absorbed quickly. They are all good choices depending on preferences. Dandelion leaves average about $1 to $2 an ounce whether they are cut up or a powder and the capsules average about $8 for 60 capsules. Dandelion root is about the same for the powder, but the capsules are considerably cheaper, about $2 to $4 for 100 capsules. Moreover, the tincture can be found between $4 and $5 an ounce.

To make dandelion coffee, the roots have to be roasted which will double the cost. Some good brands to try are Now, Yogi, Traditional Medicines, and Starwest Botanicals. A local health food store would be a good place to buy dandelion. If the internet is used, shop around because different sites frequently have sales. One good site to try is www.takeherb.com.

How Much to Take?

  • The recommended dose for dandelion leaf tea is 1-2 teaspoons steeped in hot water 3 times a day.
  • For dandelion root tea, the recommended dose is ½ -2 teaspoons steeped in hot water 3 times a day.
  • Whether the capsules are the leaf or the root, the recommended dose is 500 mg 3 times a day.
  • The recommended dose for both the leaf tincture and the root tincture is 100-150 drops 3 times a day.

Precautions

While there are no negative side effects from taking the dandelion herb, some people have been known to have allergic reactions to it, including a rash or mouth sores. If you are allergic to yarrow, iodine, ragweed, marigold, chrysanthemums, chamomile, or daisies, you should avoid taking dandelion. Dandelion might cause stomach acid or heartburn in some people. If you have gallbladder problems or gallstones, you should consult a doctor before taking dandelion. Dandelion is a diuretic and may cause your body to expel any drugs you are taking faster than normal. Consult a doctor if you are taking Lithium, quinoline antibiotics, and antacids like Pepcid, Zantac, and Taganet.


reader feedback, tips & advice

There are currently 18 comments. Add your's below!
  1. peachy 3 January 2011 at 1:27 pm permalink

    I am now super interested in trying Dandelion tea :)

  2. David 17 May 2011 at 5:28 am permalink

    I have tried Dandelion tea and have lost weight. I drank tea once daily for 7 days and lost 5 lbs in a week. I will now try it for 30 days to see if I can lose 30 % of my body weight….. In Spanish it is called “Diente de Lion” and can be found in many farmer markets… try, since it really works…..

  3. Tunde 10 June 2011 at 10:32 pm permalink

    Its good for Malaria as it cleanse the liver

  4. Emily 5 July 2011 at 11:42 pm permalink

    I have so much dandelion growing in my front yard, and don’t do with it what I should…need to get on top of it.

  5. Sam 17 August 2011 at 4:47 pm permalink

    I’m always interested in anything that cleanses the liver. The weight loss properties of dandelion is new to me though!

    @David, good going losing the weight with just a cup a day.

  6. felice lim 1 October 2011 at 7:38 pm permalink

    my grandparent eat dandelion leaves for
    years. He NEVER need to see a doctor as he
    believed ‘ good ‘food’ is good medicine’
    and drugs are poisons !!’ and the famous
    chinese saying ‘ illness come through our mouths ” we will be in great trouble if he caught us eating ‘BBQ’ food and we have to
    detox for 3 days !! this was almost 40 yrs ago when we do not know the word ‘carcinegon’ ..but he said ‘ toxic’ !!how true !! we do not use any ready made source but using ginger juices, lots of garlic, sea salt, aged vineger, aged mandarin peel , aged chinese wine, red yeast fermented wine, home made bean curd
    and lots of sea food every day.. and of course, NO CANED FOOD , SODA & candies !

  7. Diana Mossop 31 October 2011 at 12:47 pm permalink

    Dandelion leaves are very powerful for cleansing the liver and supporting cholesterol, the bile pathways and the Gallbladder.

    Dandelion Flower essence is valuable to enable one to deal with anger. Sudden outburst of violent anger can be attibuted to liver disorders but sometime we feel subliminally angry when we bottle up our feelings and cannot express them so they internalise and manifest in the Gallbladder. Dandelion essence lessens the impact of the overbearing aggresive ego, softens attitudes and increases a sense of caring and sharing. A Lion of a plant.

  8. Uk 5 December 2011 at 3:21 pm permalink

    Thanks,I find dis interesting. How do i get the capsule? I would love to start taking it.

  9. Luanne 18 December 2011 at 8:19 am permalink

    WELL, NOW I KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THIS PAST SUMMER’S BUMPER CROP OF DANDELIONS.!!
    THEY WERE IMPOSSIBLE TO CONTROL THIS YEAR, AND EVERYONE HAD THE SAME PROBLEM.
    I HAD CONSIDERED HIRING A LAWNSCPAING COMPANY TO ERADICATE THEM. NOW THAT I FOUND THIS SITE, I’LL JUST TRY USING THEM INSTEAD, AND PUT UP WITH THE WEED ANOTHER YEAR!

  10. anne 1 January 2012 at 9:42 am permalink

    Thanks for all the information.The feedback nd views were interesting too.Bought some Dandelion Essence yesterday and look forward to letting you know of any results.

  11. Azzah 12 January 2012 at 1:53 am permalink

    Definitively a great flower to add to the mix, do remember the dosage. A friend of mine added to much to a dish at a dinner party & everyone that ate that dish had urgent bowel movements all night long.

  12. Tariz Al Khoury 14 March 2012 at 7:35 am permalink

    Dandilion…ohhh dandilion what do I do without you!!!!
    I love dandelion so much so that I get creative when preparing it. I love its exotic bitter taste. I would like to share my recipe with you, you might like it even if takes patience and about an hour to prepare and cook. To me it’s worth it. Continue reading if you like to fall in love with dandelion! I call this recipe:
    ‘THE MEDICINE POT’
    Ingredients:
    1. A passion for dandelion and patience ;)
    2. 3 big bunches of dandelion (I use three kinds, one of each: green stems, red stems and another variety with green short stems.) But you could use only one kind, whatever you like or available.
    3. 4 large onions
    4. Garlic, lots of it! Freshly grated. (I use 1 head of garlic equivalent to about 12 large cloves.)
    5. Juice of 3 lemons (amount varies from none to as much as you like.)
    6. 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil, (Pastene brand is my favorite brand.) Use half of the oil in the beginning of cooking and the other half in the end.
    7. Salt
    8. Black pepper, freshly ground. (I use 3 colors black, red and white)
    Steps:
    1. Wash and cut the dandelion into about 1 inch width pieces. (I leave 1/4 of this cut up mixture of dandelion aside for later juicing it and adding it at the end.)
    2. Cut into ½ inch pieces and caramelize the onions in extra virgin olive oil on medium heat.
    3. Add dandelions, salt and pepper. Mix well and cover. Simmer for about 30 minutes; mixing every 5 minutes or so to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom of pot.
    4. This step is optional but I do it. Meanwhile the dandelions are cooking, juice with a juicer the 1/4 amount of dandelions that you put aside. It will yield about 1 cup of green dandelion juice. This juice is very healthy and will be added at the end of cooking.
    5. At the end of cooking add the green dandelion juice, adjust the seasoning and mix well. Let it simmer for about 2 more minutes while mixing it frequently until most of the moisture is evaporated. The final consistency at the end of cooking will be a creamy-like consistency. Turn off the heat immediately after so the vitamins and minerals of the dandelion juice is not ruined by heat.
    6. After turning the heat off add the following: Garlic, extra virgin olive oil (the second half), and the lemon juice. Mix well, cover and let it sit for 15 minutes or so.
    * Enjoy it hot, warm, or cold (my preference is cold from the fridge) with fresh white pita bread (my fave) or with any kind of bread that YOU LIKE.
    * The combination of extra virgin olive oil, lemon and garlic along with the sweetness of caramelized onions will make the bitter taste of dandelion bearable and even pleasant, let alone the health benefits of all these ingredients combined.

  13. Brian Sutton 18 April 2012 at 2:18 pm permalink

    Just read the dandelion recipes ,etc. I started growing them a year ago you are blessed to have them.Pull the roots up and dry them to eat or make tea after grinding them A man healed himself from cancer of the prostate with dried dandelion roots.You can read his story online just type in Dried dandelion Roots heal cancers. I eat 2 or 3 leaves a day fresh from garden.Good Tucker!

  14. Emily watson 11 May 2012 at 5:29 am permalink

    Hello,

    After consuming dandelion herb, I did haveo have some allergic reactions to it, some mouth sores in the beginning but once my body got used to it, I’m not having any issues.

  15. kelly 11 November 2012 at 3:38 pm permalink

    VERY good article on dandelion herbs! I am now wondering if they’re easy to get here? Have to check out the organic shops!

  16. Jeanie 17 February 2013 at 11:41 pm permalink

    Can you use the variety that grow wild in our yards for eating and making tea?

  17. Joshua Rogers 22 January 2014 at 7:40 am permalink

    Kelly, they should be pretty easy to get. Many shops carry them in different forms based on what kind you’re looking for.

  18. DSWatts 4 February 2014 at 6:15 am permalink

    Why is it that we are always looking to buy the things that we can get for free. They grow everywhere. use them. Let them grow, as well as the other things considered “weeds”. As long as they’re not poisonous,why not? I would rather have a weed that can help my health and save me money than a manicured lawn that just looks pretty.


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