There are many benefits of dandelion root. Dandelions are considered a weed in most yards, and many people seek to eradicate them from the lawn and garden. Yet among the so-called weeds, dandelions actually impart many medicinal qualities. Whether you eat the leaves, brew a tea, or use the roots, this weed offers a bevy of benefits.
Dandelion's Healing Properties
Dandelion has a long and illustrious career as a medicinal herb. In Germany, the herb is actually approved to use as a treatment for loss of appetite. Dandelion root is approved in Germany to treat bile flow problems and as a diuretic.
Rich Source of Vitamins and Antioxidants
It may surprise you to learn that dandelion leaves may be eaten like lettuce. Dandelion leaves contain abundant antioxidants and vitamins C and A. As long as the dandelions are harvested from a clean area and not from the side of a busy highway, they may make a welcome addition to the table in the springtime. Many people who adhere to old folkways swear by dandelion leaf salads and teas in the spring as a cleansing and detoxifying tonic.
Benefits of Dandelion Root
The roots of the dandelion contain the most benefits. If you've ever tried to pull a dandelion weed out of the garden, you know how hard it is because of the root. Dandelions put forth a long taproot that firmly anchors it to the soil. It is within the roots of the dandelion plant that many health benefits are found. These include:
- Cancer prevention: An article in the Journal of Oncology summarized promising research using dandelion root in the fight against breast cancer. Other research shows similar results.
- Stabilized blood sugar: According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, research supports a benefit of dandelion root as stabilizing blood sugar levels.
- Improves blood cholesterol: In the same article on the University of Maryland Medical Center site, research is also cited showing improvements in the blood lipid profile of people in a test using dandelion root extract. The results are inconclusive, however, so do not try to rely upon dandelion root extract alone for blood cholesterol control.
Folklore also cites dandelion root as an antibacterial agent. Many older herbal texts list dandelion roots and leaves as a treatment for cystitis, and inflammation of the bladder. That's no surprise given dandelion's diuretic effects and abundant antioxidants. The diuretic may produce more urine, flushing bacteria out of the bladder faster than it can multiple, while the antioxidants may provide the body with substances it needs to fight the infection.
Cautions and Contraindications
Dandelion has few known side effects, but it can interact with prescription medications. If you're allergic to flowers such as chrysanthemums and marigolds, avoid dandelion, since the compounds that set off your allergies in those flowers are also present in the dandelion plant and may cause an allergic reaction. Dandelion interacts with prescription medications including lithium and certain antacids. It can also cause heartburn and stomach upset, so if you experience either when taking this herb, discontinue use immediately.
With its long history and relatively safe track record, the benefits of dandelion root outweigh most drawbacks. You can buy dandelion root and dandelion herbal products at natural health stores, health food stores and vitamin and supplement stores nationwide or online. Always follow package directions and tell your doctor about this or any other herbal supplements you're taking.