Dandelion Benefits & Uses

January 11, 2023 0 Comments

Dandelions are one of the mother nature’s most abundant healing plants. They are also one of the world’s most hated weeds. They thrive in all conditions and can be found growing in most backyards across the entire United States.

Although many homeowners try to rid their yards of dandelions, if they only knew the medical benefits, they may reconsider!

Dandelions have been a nutritional food source, and valuable medicine for thousands of years. Because dandelions have been carried place to place throughout the world, its origins are hard to pinpoint, but many speculate, it is native to Europe and Asia.

As an invasive species dandelions are perfect to forage for. I think it’s safe to say we won’t run out of them any time soon.

The nutritious weed

The entire dandelion plant is edible, meaning the roots, leaves, stems and flowers, but the leaves or greens of dandelion, are considered especially nutritious.

One cup of dandelion greens contains vitamin 535% K, 111% A, 32% C and 5% B6. They also contain iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium and sodium.

Dandelion greens are considered what is called a bitter herb. Through their tendency to stimulate digestive juices, bitter foods like arugula, fennel, radicchio, and dandelion greens are known to support healthy digestion.

The most popular way to eat dandelion greens is to steam or saute them as you something such as spinach or collard greens. They also make excellent additions added to salads or even soups. The possibilities as to what you can create with these amazing leaves is endless, and the best part, you don’t have to go to the grocery store to get them!

Sautéed Dandelion Greens

Medicinal Value

Dandelions are a highly valuable medicine. The earliest documented use of dandelions was written in Roman times, and noted that the Saxton’s tribes of Britain, and the Normans of France used dandelions for many medical reasons. It was also documented that many Arabian physicians used dandelions for healing.

Today, we still find this healing weed one of the most beneficial and widely available medicinal plants on the planet.

Dandelion Benefits

1. Protects bones: Calcium is a necessary mineral in the human body, and dandelions contained 10% of your daily value. By drinking a tea or eating some greens, you can potentially avoid calcium deficiency, high blood pressure, tooth decay, and muscle tension.

2. High in vitamin K: Vitamin K is the main vitamin involved in bone mineralization and blood clotting. In fact, vitamin K builds bones better than calcium. Dandelions contain 500% of your daily value which makes them excellent at preventing vitamin K deficiency, and can also help with menstrual bleeding because of its blood clotting capabilities.

There is increasing evidence that vitamin K can improve bone health and reduce the risk of fractures, especially in post menopausal women who are at risk for osteoporosis.

3. Cleanses the liver: One of dandelions best healing capabilities is it’s positive effects on the liver. The liver plays an essential role within our bodies health. The liver produces bile, which helps enzymes break down fat into fatty acids and to filter and detox our blood.

The vitamins and nutrients present in dandelions, help cleanse our livers and keep them working properly, therefore preventing many health issues. Dandelions also aid in our digestion by maintaining the proper flow of bile.

4. Fights diabetes: Dandelion tea can help people with diabetes by stimulating production of insulin from the pancreas and keeping blood sugar levels low. Dandelions also help remove excess sugar that’s stored in the body because of it being a diuretic.

5. Good for the heart: In several studies, dandelion led to a reduction in total cholesterol, triglycerides and bad LDL cholesterol, as well as an increase in beneficial HDL cholesterol. Studies also suggest that dandelion may help normalize blood sugar levels and lower high blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease.

6. High in antioxidants: Antioxidants are substances that help prevent certain types of cell damage, especially those caused by oxidation. The body uses antioxidants to fight free radical damage, which is very dangerous for body tissues and is in direct connection to cancer and premature aging.

Consuming dandelion helps the body avoid cell damage from free radicals. A study conducted in 2011 by the department of biochemistry at the University of Windsor Canada, found that dandelion root was effective in killing different cancers as a result of its free radical fighting abilities.

7. High in fiber: Fiber is responsible for food moving through the digestive track. It works by drawing fluids from the body, to add bulk to the stool. A high fiber diet reduces the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, diverticulitis, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and kidney stones. Because dandelions are high in fiber, incorporating them into your diet, you lower your risk for all these factors.

8. Skin benefits: Because dandelion is high in antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and anti fungal properties, it makes it a wonderful plant to use topically. Dandelions are able to fight free radicals and signs of ageing, as well as containing minerals that will hydrate skin tissue and support healthy function of the skin.

9. Sore muscles: Dandelions are effective in reducing inflammation caused by disease, illness or injury to the body due to the presence of various bio-active compound like polyphenols within the plant. Using dandelion as a topical treatment for sore muscles is nothing new to human history.

10. Good source of vitamin A: Vitamin A is crucial to maintaining healthy vision, neurological function, healthy skin and more. Vitamin A as an antioxidant so it has the power to reduce inflammation by fighting free radical damage. Just one cup of dandelion greens has over 100% of the daily value of vitamin A. Consuming dandelions daily, you can fight premature aging, respiratory infections, and vision impairment.

11. Diuretic: Dandelion root has a natural diuretic effect, allowing your liver to quickly eliminate toxins. It strengthens the immune system, balances blood sugar levels and can relieve heartburn and digestive issues. Dandelions help reduce uric acid, and has the ability to cleanse bacterial infections within reproductive organs and the digestive track. It works to stimulate urine production making it beneficial for fighting bacterial infections within the digestive tract and reproductive organs.

12. May prevent urinary tract infections: If you are somebody that is prone to these unbearable infections, start using dandelion! Because it has the ability to cleanse bacteria from reproductive organs and the digestive track, when it is combined with uva ursi or corn silk, it’s a wonderful natural remedy for urinary infections.

Ways to use dandelion

Dandelions are extremely easy to identify and can be found almost anywhere. The roots are what is typically used for remedies because they contain the strongest medicinal compounds. The greens, although medicinal, have a more subtle approach.

You can harvest the entire plant by digging it up by the root. Dandelion roots can sometimes grow quite deep, so make sure you dig around the plant in a circle perimeter.

The fresh roots and leaves can be washed, chopped up, and added directly to a tea! Or slice the root and dry them using a dehydrator.

Once dry, store in a cool dark cabinet. The dried roots should stay good for over a year, and can be added to tea, tinctures, etc.

Make sure you are harvesting from an area that is free of pesticides and chemicals. Never harvest from roadsides or feild lines as they are likely contaminated. Pesticides will render your remedies useless, and possibly toxic. Avoid harvesting from any of these areas.

Tea

Dandelion tea is probably the most popular form of consuming dandelions. If you’re not interested in harvesting your own many health food stores carry dandelion tea bags ready to go.

To make your own dandelion tea

1-3 teaspoons mixed dried dandelion root and leaves

1 cup boiling water

Use a tea ball strainer and add your herbs. Place the ball in a mug and add 6 – 8 oz of boiling water. Let steep for 10 – 15 minutes, then enjoy up to 3 times a day. Sweetener such as honey or stevia can be added.

Eat your greens

Dandelion greens, can be chopped up and added to soups, salads, pesto and more! You can get creative, even adding fresh blossoms to your salads, or making fried dandelion blooms. The entire plant is safe for consumption. Get creative!

Tinctures

A tincture is made by infusing herbs, roots, or bark in alcohol. The alcohol acts as a solvent, and creates a potent liquid containing the medical properties of the plants used. A few drops a day is all that is needed vs. drinking a tea. Some herbalists feel that an extract is stronger, however I think both methods work great, and are equally effective. Purchase our Dandelion Greens Elixir or learn to make your own tincture here.

Salve

Because dandelions have wonderful effects at treating dry skin and sore muscles, they are a great herb to incorporate in topical treatments. Dandelion oil is super easy to make and can be used in making massage oil, soaps, salves and lotions! Visit my post on making a herbal oil and salve.

Safety Considerations

Dandelion is likely safe for most people when consumed in the amounts commonly found in food.

Consuming dandelion may cause allergic reactions, stomach discomfort, diarrhea, or heartburn in some people. Dandelion slows clotting and may cause extra bleeding, and problems with low blood sugar during and after surgery. Stop using dandelion at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery. Taking dandelion might increase the risk for bruising and bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.

People who are allergic to ragweed and related plants (daisies, chrysanthemums, marigolds) might also be allergic to dandelion. But conflicting data exists. If you have allergies, pregnant, nursing, or have kidney disorders, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking dandelion.

Herbal medicine is still medicine, so it’s important to make sure it is safe before you to consume. Always speak to your doctor first before starting any herbal therapies. View our disclaimer here.

Final thought

With so many amazing benefits, it’s time to rethink how we view the world’s most hated weed. The next time a dandelion pops up in your yard, dont spray it or throw it away. Add it to your salad instead. You won’t be sorry you did!

Stay Wild

Kayce

Kayce Heister
Kayce Heister

Kayce is a Clinical Herbalist, Holistic Health Practitioner (HHP), Active Forager, Wild Food Chef and Mother of three. She has spent the last 18 years practicing herbalism and natural health, and spends most of her time educating others on the amazing potential the natural world can offer.

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