The dandelion is a herb full of vitamins and minerals. Both, the leaves and roots of this familiar yellow-flowered weed are used in herbalism. The leaves contain vitamins A,B,C, and D. It is also high in minerals like potassium, zinc and iron. The herb is a harmonious combination of trace elements, vitamins and other active substances in ratios optimal for a human being. Even though there are no scientific studies on humans to prove its effectiveness, traditionally the dandelion has been used to treat indigestion, gall bladder, gallstones, liver, arthritis, kidney problems, urinary tract stones and swollen breasts. It is a bitter digestive and is a widely used herb, with many health benefits.
Botanical Name – Taraxacum officinale
Sanskrit – Dugdhapheni, Simhadanti
Hindi – Dudal
Health benefits and Medicinal uses of Dandelion
Dandelion leaves and roots have various health benefits and have been used as home remedies since ancient times, in most cultures. The leaves are a powerful diuretic and are very nourishing. The roots act as a restorative liver tonic and promotes digestion. The flower has anti-oxidant properties. It is an alterative (restoring health) and may improve the immune system. It has many other chemicals, which though not unique to dandelions individually, the combination of them all in one plant, along with high levels of vitamins, minerals, proteins and fibre are responsible for the claims made about the herb.
Dandelion Health Benefits for UTI
Dandelion helps prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). A combination of dandelion root and leaf extracts of the herb uva ursi taken orally, helps reduce urinary tract infection in women. Uva ursi is said to kill bacteria, and dandelion is used to increase urine flow. Dandelion leaves along with uva ursi or thyme is a good home remedy for cystitis and urethritis.
Dandelion Health Benefits for the Liver and Gallstones
Studies have shown that the dandelion root increases production and flow of bile from the liver and gall bladder, helping to treat conditions such as gallstones, jaundice and hepatitis. Dandelion increases bile secretion by 50% and studies have confirmed enhanced secretion of bilirubin only minutes after administration. It is thought that the plant’s beneficial effect on various liver functions is related to its high content of B vitamin choline. The dandelion root is used to detoxify the liver and gallbladder, and the leaves of the plant is used to help kidney function. Herbalists believe that, the health of the gall bladder and that of the liver is interconnected.
Dandelion Health Benefits for Blood Sugar and Cholesterol
Preliminary animal studies suggest that dandelion may help normalize blood sugar levels. Dandelion greens have been quite successful as hypoglycaemic for many people with diabetes. Inulin is easily assimilated by diabetics. It contains no calories and does not stress the pancreas, and can therefore be used to regulate sugar metabolism. Research shows that regular use of dandelion roots helps reduce blood cholesterol. Pectin is a soluble fibre that helps lower cholesterol levels through decreasing both, absorption and synthesis of cholesterol. Dandelion is a good source of pectin.
Dandelion Health Benefits for Digestion
The dandelion is also used as a mild appetite stimulant. The root acts as a mild laxative in habitual constipation and is used to improve digestion. When the stomach is irritated and one can’t treat it actively, a decoction or extract of dandelion administered three or four times a day, proves to be a valuable home remedy. As a digestive, it is believed to exert a potent effect on the gall bladder by stimulating the secretion of bile. Dandelion tea it promotes good absorption of nutrients and is hence recommended for chronic indigestion.
Dandelion Health Benefits for Anaemia
Anaemia is also said to be caused by deficiency of nutritive salts in the blood. Dandelion is extremely high in nutritive salts, which purify the blood. The herb may also enhance the body’s ability to absorb iron from either food or supplements. The Effect of Taraxacum officinale Hydroalcoholic Extract on Blood Cells in Mice
Dandelion Health Benefits for Cancer
Some studies also indicate that dandelion may be of value in treating cancer. The Japanese have patented a freeze dried extract of dandelion extracts of the root to combat tumours. The Chinese have been using dandelion extracts to help fight breast cancer. This has been supported by positive results in animal studies. According to CBC News in Canada, Professor Siyaram Pandey, University of Windsor, has been studying the anti-cancer potential of dandelion root extract for almost two years now. Thirty patients are being recruited to take part in a study looking at the potentially cancer-killing abilities of dandelion root extract. 30 patients to test dandelion’s cancer-killing potential. According to globalnews.ca, “So far dandelion root extract has been shown to be active against pancreatic cancer cells, colon cancer cells and melanoma (in cultures, not in patients)”.
Other Health Benefits
Roots are used in the case of mild jaundice, with a yellow cast to the skin, for a bitter taste in the mouth and dull eyes. Dandelion helps in most chronic diseases and helps the body cope with strong chemical drugs. It plays an important role in detoxification and nutrition. Dandelion is used in combination with burdock or other alterative herbs for arthritis and skin diseases. It is also used with horsetail for degenerative arthritis and chronic bladder weakness.
Specific addictions can leave certain kinds of damage to the body and we can give our body an added advantage in healing the affected areas by supplementing with herbs and foods that have an affinity for those areas. As the liver is a focus for recovering alcoholics, and turmeric with dandelion root is good for the liver, it helps to heal the areas faster. Traditional Chinese Medicine also uses the dandelion to enhance the immune response during upper respiratory tract infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia.
Dandelion Home Remedies
- Botanical.com says a broth of Dandelion roots, sliced and stewed in boiling water with some leaves of Sorrel and the yolk of an egg, taken daily for some months, has been known to cure seemingly intractable cases of chronic liver congestion.
- A strong decoction of dandelion root is the best home remedy for liver problems, gallstones and any gall bladder inflammation. To make a decoction, boil about 2-3 tsps of sliced root in one cup of water for 15 minutes. Strain this when cold, sweeten with honey and drink a cupful once or twice a day.
- The fresh white sap in the flower stalks helps get rid of warts if dabbed on regularly.
- Dandelion root decoction is also considered effective in cases of eczema and all eruptions on the surface of the body.
- To produce sufficient urine, drink a decoction made with 2-3 tsp of dried leaves of the herb to a cup of boiling water, and drink it 2-3times a day.
- Dandelion leaf tea is good for all types of water retention and oedema, especially for swollen ankles associated with heart or circulatory problems.
- One tsp fresh juice of Dandelion or tincture with water twice a day is good for anaemia, as it increases iron absorption.
- A tea made from the root of the dandelion plant helps relieve irregularity in motions. It acts as a mild laxative.
How to make Dandelion Tea
To make dandelion tea, use the dried, chopped root or leaves of the dandelion. Pour a cup of very hot water over 1 or 2 tsps of the herb and allow it to steep for about 15 minutes. The tea can be sweetened with honey. Lukewarm Dandelion tea is recommended for dyspepsia with constipation, fever, insomnia and hypochondria. Many people who suffer from acne or other skin eruptions due to toxins in the system can benefit from taking a daily cup of dandelion tea.
The roots of the dandelion plant are roasted and ground to make dandelion coffee. This coffee is said to be better than real coffee, as it is a natural alternative to coffee. It is natural beverage and it does not have any of the injurious side effects of real coffee or tea. It is said to stimulate the whole system, thus helping the liver and kidneys work efficiently and keeps the bowel in a healthy condition.