When you think of healthy herbs which can be consumed as teas, the likes of peppermint and chamomile probably come to your mind first – rather than dandelion. In fact, it’s highly unlikely that dandelion will spring to your mind at all – because we often think of it as a pesky weed that our gardens are full of rather than a healthy plant!
However, you’ll be surprised to know that it actually is one of the healthiest plants out there with many scientifically-proven health-boosting benefits.
Yes, dandelion has been consumed as a medicinal plant for centuries by various cultures as a way to treat a whole range of illnesses, from liver disease to acne.
So, what are these health benefits of dandelion – and could you benefit from incorporating it into your diet rather than trying to keep them away from your lawn? Read on to find out!
1. Dandelion Is Rich in Nutrients and Minerals
Dandelion is an incredibly nutritious herb and is loaded with plenty of vitamins and nutrients which our bodies need. It is low in saturated fat, and very low in cholesterol – but rich in fiber, and vitamins A, C, K, and E. It also contains some B group vitamins, including folate and riboflavin.
But dandelion isn’t only rich in vitamins – it is also packed with minerals like iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium . The greens can be cooked or eaten raw to consume the vitamins and minerals. You can also dry the leaves and use them to prepare Dandelion tea to reap its nutritional benefits.
The root of dandelion also has several nutritional properties because it is high in carbohydrate inulin – a soluble fiber which supports the growth and maintenance of the healthy bacteria in your intestines .
2. It Could Help Reduce Inflammation in Your Body
Inflammation is how our body naturally responds to injury or illness – but over time it can lead to serious permanent damage. In fact, you may already know that chronic inflammation has been linked to several severe health conditions, including cancer, diabetes, and obesity .
Turns out an overlooked herb like dandelion can help the body fight it! Some laboratory tests into dandelion’s anti-inflammatory properties have shown that dandelion compounds may significantly reduce inflammation markers .
Medical tests conducted with mice showed that there was a significant reduction in inflammation in the animals that received dandelion as a treatment . That said, more research is needed to understand whether dandelion could help fight inflammation in humans.
3. It Contains Powerful Antioxidant Properties
Our bodies need antioxidants to help prevent the oxidation of the molecules and prevent the adverse effect of free radicals. Free radicals are toxic byproducts of oxygen metabolism that damage our body cells and cause various illnesses – as well as aging.
Luckily, dandelion is a potent antioxidant – and antioxidants are essential in helping our bodies fight toxic free radicals. Antioxidants help prevent the development of various diseases as well as slow aging.
Dandelion is rich in beta-carotene – an antioxidant which has been shown to protect against oxidative stress and cellular damage .
But that’s not only antioxidant it contains! Dandelion is also high in polyphenols – another group of micronutrients and powerful antioxidants which also help protect against chronic diseases .
4. Dandelion May Help Fight Cancer
Several laboratory tests have also shown that dandelion may have much more powerful health qualities, such as the potential to prevent the growth of cancer in different organ systems.
In a tube test carried out to measure dandelion extract effectiveness in preventing the growth of breast and prostate cancer cells, dandelion leaf was shown to decrease the growth of cancer cells – while the root had no effect . Interestingly, another study showed that dandelion root extract did dramatically slow the growth of cancer cells in colon, liver, and pancreatic tissue [9, 10].
However, there is a lack of reliable studies on the anti-carcinogenic activity of dandelion – and more research is needed to understand how it may affect cancer cells.
5. It Helps Control Your Blood Sugar
There are two important bioactive compounds found in dandelion – chicoric and chlorogenic acid – which have been linked to reduced blood sugar. Several lab tests and animal studies have shown that these compounds improve insulin secretion from the pancreas – as well as boost the absorption of glucose in muscle tissue, leading to reduced blood sugar levels .
6. Dandelion May Lower Blood Pressure
Traditionally, dandelion has also been used to detoxify certain organs in the body in an attempt to lower blood pressure. There isn’t much scientific evidence to support the claim, although one study carried out with 17 people found that dandelion had diuretic qualities (i.e., it helped rid the body of excess fluid which is believed to lead to lower blood pressure) . However, this was a short-term study with a very small sample size so doesn’t provide sufficient evidence.
Dandelion also contains potassium which has been associated with lower blood pressure – which could mean it lowers blood pressure indirectly .
7. It Could Reduce Cholesterol In Your Blood
High LDL cholesterol has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease for decades .
That’s because if you have too much of it, it may cling to the walls of your arteries – and clog them. Blocked arteries may prevent blood from reaching your heart, or other vital organs – potentially leading to heart attack, stroke, or heart failure.
Dandelion contains bioactive compounds which may help lower cholesterol, according to the results of some animal studies. A study involving mice showed that dandelion extract significantly reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels , while a study conducted with rabbits showed that adding dandelion roots and leaves to a high-cholesterol diet may help lower cholesterol levels .
That said, there is now some evidence that suggests there may actually be no link between high cholesterol and heart disease  – although research is ongoing.
8. It Could Be Beneficial For Your Liver
Some animal studies have also shown dandelion may help protect your liver from stress and toxins.
One particular study involving mice showed that liver tissue was protected when exposed to toxic levels of Tylenol (a widely used drug that treats mild to moderate pain) – most likely because of dandelion’s antioxidant qualities .
Another study conducted in 2013 showed that dandelion extract could help reduce the levels of excess fat our liver stores – as well as protect against oxidative stress in liver tissue .
9. Dandelion Could Promote Weight Loss
Good news for those aiming to lose weight – dandelion may be just the herb to help! Because it contains bioactive components, research indicates that it may aid weight loss and maintenance – although more research is needed to understand its effect on weight loss. There are some theories, however, that dandelion can reduce fat absorption as well as improve carbohydrate metabolism – therefore supporting weight loss.
A study of mice revealed that supplementing with dandelion may have weight loss benefits (however, this was an accidental finding in the study) . A similar study conducted with obese mice showed that chlorogenic acid – a polyphenol compound found in dandelion – reduced the levels of fat-storage hormones, and body weight .
As with some other potential dandelion benefits, more research is needed to determine this link between the herb and weight loss – but it could be suggested that adding dandelion to a weight loss diet could support your goal.
10. It May Promote Healthy Digestion and Be Used As a Constipation Treatment
If you’re someone who suffers from digestion problems or constipation, adding dandelion to your diet may be beneficial. Several studies show it may help treat these problems.
A study carried out with rats showed that dandelion extract significantly increased the rate of stomach contractions and emptying suggesting it may relieve constipation . And that’s not really surprising since dandelion root is rich in a prebiotic fiber called inulin. Inulin has been linked with reduced constipation and a boost of intestinal movement .
11. It May Support Your Immune System
Last but not least, some research indicates that dandelion may also boost your immune system, thanks to its antiviral and antimicrobial qualities which help find infection in the body.
While more research is needed to understand the antibacterial and antimicrobial properties of dandelion, studies conducted to date indicate positive results.
Who Should Avoid Taking Dandelion?
As you can see, dandelion has a wide range of healthy qualities and could be used as a preventative measure, as well as a treatment for a diversity of health ailments.
That said, there are possible risks and side effects you need to be aware of before you begin using this herb. While it is considered to be likely safe for most adults, it may cause allergic reactions – especially if you’re already allergic to related plants like ragweed and daisies, marigolds, and chrysanthemums.
Dandelion is often overlooked – but this plant has a ton of health benefits and could be a fantastic herb to add to your diet.
Research has shown that it may have many powerful effects on your body, including lowering your cholesterol, reducing inflammation, controlling blood sugar, and even fighting cancer. The results are still preliminary and more studies into its effectiveness are needed, but scientific evidence to date indicates it is an incredibly healthy herb.
Some research also suggests that dandelion may be a great herb to incorporate into your daily diet if you are trying to lose weight. Certain theories indicate that dandelion may reduce fat absorption, and improve metabolism.