Nutrition / Diet

10 health benefits of dandelion

Contrary to popular belief, dandelions are not just pesky garden weeds. They may have some health benefits.

In fact, people have used the plant to help treat ailments for several centuries. In this article, learn more about dandelion and 10 of its possible health benefits.

We also cover how to use it and possible side effects.

What is dandelion?

Dandelion is a plant with yellow flowers.Taraxacum officinale is the most common variety of this plant, and it grows in many parts of the world.

Botanists consider dandelions to be herbs. People use the leaves, stem, flower, and root of the dandelion for medicinal purposes.

10 possible health benefits

The potential benefits of dandelion include:

1. Providing antioxidants

dandelions in a field
Dandelions may have various health benefits.

Antioxidants work to neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals. The human body produces free radicals naturally, but they cause harm by accelerating aging or the progression of certain diseases.

Dandelions contain beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage. Research shows that carotenoids such as beta-carotene play a vital role in reducing cell damage.

The flower of the dandelion is also full of polyphenols, which are another type of antioxidant.

2. Reducing cholesterol

Dandelions contain bioactive compounds that may help lower a person’s cholesterol.

One study from 2010 examined the effects of dandelion consumption in rabbits. Its results found that dandelion root and leaf could help lower cholesterol in animals on a high-cholesterol diet.

Another study in mice found that dandelion consumption reduced total cholesterol and levels of fat in the liver. The researchers concluded that dandelion might one day help treat obesity-related nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

However, testing on humans is necessary to help determine how effective dandelion could be for lowering cholesterol.

3. Regulating blood sugar

There is some evidence to suggest that dandelions contain compounds that may help with regulating blood sugar.

In 2016, some researchers proposed that dandelion’s antihyperglycemic, antioxidative, and anti-inflammatory properties may help treat type 2 diabetes. However, further research is required to make any definitive claims.

4. Reducing inflammation

Some studies indicate that dandelion extracts and compounds may help reduce inflammation in the body.

In one 2014 study, researchers found that chemicals present in dandelions had some positive effects on reducing inflammatory responses.

They conducted the study in cells and not in human participants, which means that more studies are necessary to conclude that dandelion reduces inflammation in the human body.

5. Lowering blood pressure

There is little research to support the use of dandelion for lowering blood pressure.

However, dandelions are a good source of potassium. There is clinical evidence that shows that potassium can help reduce blood pressure.

For example, research has found that people taking a potassium supplement saw a reduction in their blood pressure, especially if they already had high blood pressure.

6. Aiding weight loss

Some researchers have proposed that dandelion could help people achieve their weight loss goals. This is based on the plant’s ability to improve carbohydrate metabolism and reduce fat absorption.

A small study of mice found that chlorogenic acid, a chemical present in dandelions, may help reduce weight gain and lipid retention. Strong evidence to support this claim is lacking, however.

7. Reducing cancer risk

Some limited, but positive, research has indicated that dandelion may help reduce the growth of certain types of cancer.

So far, studies have looked at dandelion’s impact on cancer growth in test tubes and found that it may help with slowing the growth of colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and liver cancer.

One study examining cancer growth in a test tube determined that dandelion extract may help reduce the growth of liver cancer.

However, as with other potential benefits, more research is required to show how effective dandelions can be as part of cancer treatment.

8. Boosting the immune system

There is growing evidence that suggests that dandelions can help boost the immune system.

Researchers have found that dandelions show both antiviral and antibacterial properties. For example, one 2014 study found that dandelions help limit the growth of hepatitis B in both human and animal cells in test tubes.

More research is now required to determine the impact of dandelions on the immune system, however.

9. Aiding digestion

Some people use dandelion as a traditional remedy for constipation and other digestion issues.

A study looking at animal digestion indicated that some chemicals present in dandelions helped improve the digestive system.

The study saw a reduction in the resistance in food moving to rodents’ small intestines. Research is now needed on humans to test for similar results.

10. Keeping skin healthy

Some research indicates that dandelion may help protect the skin from sun damage.

Ultraviolet (UV) light causes considerable damage to the skin and contributes to skin aging. A 2015 study on skin cells in a test tube found that dandelion could reduce the impact of one type of damaging UV light.

Protecting the skin from UV damage can help a person look younger for longer. Research in humans is needed to verify these results.

Supplements and dosage

dandelions on a chopping board
It is not advisable to consume dandelions from the backyard.

Dandelion leaves are sometimes present in salads, but they are not widely available in all areas. Picking dandelions in a backyard is unsafe due to the potential presence of pesticides or animal excrement.

However, it is possible to obtain dandelion supplements or teas and coffees infused with dandelion root. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recognized dandelion as generally being safe to include in food products.

Data on safe doses of dandelion supplements are limited. Similar to other supplements, its potency and effectiveness can vary widely between manufacturers.

Dandelion supplements can cause allergic reactions in some people. People should not use dandelion supplements if they are sensitive to dandelions or certain other plants, such as ragweed, daisies, or chrysanthemums, or marigolds.

People trying supplements should follow instructions on the bottle for recommended doses and always speak to a doctor before taking them.

Takeaway

Dandelions have many potential health benefits. However, many of the claims need additional research to prove dandelion’s effectiveness in humans.

Dandelions are rich in nutrients and could be a healthful addition to a person’s diet or daily supplements. As with any supplement, it is best to speak to a doctor before taking them to discuss possible risks and interactions with other medications.

Dandelion supplements are available in some health food stores and online. People can also purchase dandelion root tea.

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