Benefits of Dandelion and Dandelion Tea
Dandelion, although seems like an inconsequential and relentless weed in your garden, has numerous benefits. It can be
consumed as it is or you can have it as the very popular and very fancy, Dandelion Tea!
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Dandelions, known as sihaparnee (सिंहपर्णी), are wild plants that are common and grow mostly in the northern hemisphere. For most people dandelions may just be pesky wild common weeds, but they are also very nutritious. They are very beneficial for the body. Dandelion flowers can be consumed in the form of a tea or you can even add dandelion petals wherever you feel fit. Among the many advantages of drinking dandelion tea are that it helps regulate blood sugar levels, prevent liver disease and also boosts immunity. It is rich in antioxidants and is a healthy source of potassium; a mineral that helps manage blood pressure levels.
Enjoying the merits of this immunity boosting flower isn’t very difficult. One of the quickest ways to benefit from dandelion (Scientific name – Taraxacum) is to consume it in the form of tea. In fact, dandelion tea is so easy to make, that it is perhaps the simplest way to obtain the maximum dandelion benefits. Each part of the dandelion plant is useful including the flower, root and leaf. The most commonly found dandelions are – Common dandelions (Scientific name – Taraxacum officinale), which are a treasure chest of health benefits.
The bright yellow flowers of dandelion have jagged, dark green leaves. These are available for use either in herbal medicine or Ayurveda stores. You can also find some in your garden itself for use. However, in such cases, remember to ensure that no pesticide or inorganic manure was used to grow them. Also ensure that if you choose to use homegrown dandelions (Taraxacum officinale), they are washed very well before use.
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How To Use Dandelion Flower?
In the entire dandelion plant, there are three very useful parts. These are the leaves, the roots, and the petals. It goes without saying that the root must be washed very well to get rid of all the dirt and mud before use. The leaves and petals also need some gentle washing.
The petals could be used either for making some dandelion tea or even as a garnish or addition to your cake batters, pancake batter, cookies, etc. The leaves and roots are usually used for making dandelion root tea. The root is also sometimes dried and powdered to be added to dishes according to preference.
Health Benefits of Dandelion
1. Dandelion May Help Manage Cholesterol
Various studies were conducted to determine the effects of regular consumption of dandelion related products on the level of cholesterol in the body. A study conducted in 2010 observed the effects of regular dandelion consumption in high-cholesterol diet individuals. It was seen that dandelion root or leaves helped in lowering cholesterol levels.
Another study published in 2013 observed that dandelion consumption helped in reducing the fat and cholesterol levels in high-fat induced non-alcoholic fatty liver.
These tests were, however, conducted on animal subjects and not on human beings. It is yet to be accurately determined how this would affect human beings.
2. Helps Lower Blood Pressure
Dandelions have been proven to be good sources of potassium. Studies have concluded that potassium helps in regulating blood pressure, especially in individuals already suffering from high blood pressure problems.
3. Good Source of Antioxidants
Vitamins and minerals are very important for the healthy functioning of our bodies. Dandelions are a good source of beta-carotene which gets converted to Vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is essential for the proper functioning of the immune system. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that protects the cells in the body from free radicals. This helps strengthen the immune system and also helps to reduce the risk of heart disease or cancer. Studies have concluded that due to the presence of beta-carotene, cell damage can be reduced. Dandelion greens can be an excellent source of vitamin A, K and C.
The flowers of dandelion are rich in polyphenols. This micro-nutrient is antioxidant rich. Polyphenols help in reducing the risk of digestion issues, diabetes, weight management issues, neurodegenerative disease, and cardiovascular disease.
4. Helps to Regulate Blood Sugar
Some research also shows that dandelion tea can help in lowering blood sugar levels which can even help treat diabetes due to its diuretic properties. A research published in 2016 concluded that dandelion offers promising results in fighting and reducing the risk of type-2 diabetes. It was seen that a fructo-oligosaccharide present in dandelion roots stimulates the immune system and reduces abnormal cell growth. This may help regularize the blood sugar levels, insulin production and insulin sensitivity in the body.
5. Helps Boost Immune System
Dandelions are rich in beta-carotene which is an anti-oxidant. This anti-oxidant fights against the oxidation of molecules in the body, keeping it safe from free radicals that can cause severe chronic illnesses. These anti-oxidants also keep the immune system safe.
Researchers in a study conducted in 2014 also found that dandelion have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties and helped in limiting the growth of hepatitis B.
6. Helps to Reduce The Risk of Cancer
It is known that dandelion consists of anti-oxidants that strengthen the immune system and also help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. Studies were conducted on cancer cells in test tubes and it was concluded that dandelion helped in reducing or slowing down the growth of pancreatic cancer, liver cancer and colon cancer. While the research did show that dandelions helped in the process, the extent of its effectiveness is yet to be determined.
7. Helps Reduce Inflammation
A study conducted in 2014 concluded that the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in the dandelion help reduce inflammation in cells. However, these studies were conducted in the cells itself and not on a body as a whole, hence the credibility of this result is not 100%.
8. Aids Weight Loss
A study was conducted to determine the efficacy of dandelion extract in aiding fat loss. Chlorogenic acid, a chemical present in dandelions was able to alter the body fat content in high-fat diet-induced individuals. It helped improve bodyweight reduction, lipid metabolism, and obesity-related hormone levels. This resulted in researchers concluding dandelion aids weight loss.
Yet again, however, this study was conducted on high-fat diet-induced obese mice and not human subjects and so the credibility of the results is not proven in the case of humans.
9. Helps with Digestion
Research concluded that certain chemicals present in dandelion help in relieving digestive issues such as constipation. It helps improve digestion by making muscular contractions in the gut easier. It also contributed to an increase in the intra-gastric pressure. The reduction of resistance to the movement of food in the gut helps relieve digestive stress and soothes the stomach lining.
How To Make Dandelion Tea
Dandelion tea is a simple warm beverage made using the petals, leaves or roasted pieces of the roots of dandelion. Either of the three can be steeped in water. The roots and leaves tend to give out a more bitter flavor whereas the petals are ideal for someone who likes a sweeter flavor profile. There are ready to steep tea bags also available in certain places if you prefer not to do all the steeping yourself.
Dandelion tea is also a great alternative to coffee for those who wish to go caffeine-free or choose to reduce their coffee consumption. The taste and aroma of dandelion tea is much like that of coffee without the acidic nature.
1. Dandelion Tea with Flower Petals or Leaves
It is a very quick and easy process to make dandelion tea using the petals or leaves of dandelion. Firstly, you need to harvest a few young dandelion plants. Remember to wash either the leaves or the flowers well before using them. Place about 6 leaves or flowers in a mug and pour hot water over it. Let the mix steep for about ten to twenty minutes. Remove the plant pieces after that and reheat a little if necessary before you drink.
If you have extra dandelion leaves or flowers left over, then wash them thoroughly. Leave them out to dry inside the house overnight or for several hours. Once they are completely dry, pack them up in an airtight container and store away from direct sunlight.
2. Dandelion Root Tea
Roasted dandelion root tea requires a slightly lengthier process to make. For this, firstly you need to clean, chop or mince, and roast dandelion root for about two hours. Once it is roasted, take about 1-2 teaspoons of the roasted dandelion root and let it steep in water for about 10 minutes. Strain this mix and enjoy it. You can store the leftover roasted dandelion root for later use in an airtight container kept away from direct sunlight.
Dandelion Tea Benefits
1. Helps Reduce Bloating and Fluid Retention
Dandelion tea has proved to work as a diuretic. The presence of potassium in the dandelion signals the body to eliminate the sodium along with excess water through the kidneys and urine. Dandelion tea has a diuretic effect on our body and helps in better liver functioning.
2. Helps Improve Digestion and Gut Health
Dandelion root is rich in dietary fiber and so it helps improve digestion. Studies have shown that dandelion tea helps increase the number of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium in our gut, both of which are gut-friendly probiotics.
3. Helps Reduce the Risk of Obesity
Chlorogenic acid present in dandelions has been observed to help in the process of weight loss and thereby, helping reduce the risk of excess weight gain. Dandelion also inhibits pancreatic lipase which is the enzyme that helps the body absorb fat.
4. Helps with Type-2 Diabetes
Dandelion root tea has been observed to have anti-diabetic properties. It helps improve insulin secretion which results in a lower frequency of hyper-glycemic events. It has also been seen to significantly reduce fasting blood sugar levels.
5. May Promote Liver Health
With the increasing junk food intake, our liver and heart face the unhealthy consequences. Some studies suggest that dandelion tea can help enhancing liver function. Known as ‘liver tonic’ in traditional medicine, dandelion tea and tea extract may help increasing the bile flow in the liver and detoxifying the liver.
The benefits of dandelion tea are pretty much the same as the benefits of dandelion itself.
Possible Side Effects of Dandelion Consumption
Dandelion root is safe if consumed in moderate amounts. In certain cases, some people may experience side effects, including heartburn, upset stomach, diarrhea and skin irritation.
However, if an individual has allergic reactions to flowers, particularly daisies or sunflowers, then it is best for this individual to avoid dandelion. It is also best to avoid using dandelion if you are allergic to latex.
While dandelion has numerous benefits, the safety and effects of their long term usage in pregnant women, children, nursing women and the extremely elderly is yet to be determined. Hence, it is advisable for people belonging to any of these groups to avoid the usage of dandelion.
Used as a herbal medicine, the benefits of dandelion are many. Anything good stays good, only if taken in regulation. The same goes for dandelion. Dandelion has a number of benefits but these are good for the body only if the consumption is regulated. Remember to always clean your dandelion well before using it.
As the research around dandelion consumption is low, the dosage of supplements is unclear. Please make sure to consult your doctor or a certified nutritionist before making any major dietary changes if you have any chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease, kidney disease or diabetes. If you are pregnant or are suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ask your doctor before taking dandelion in any form.
How to Consume Dandelion?
Dandelion can be used in many ways. You can consume dandelion either in the form of a flower or leaf tea, in the form of roasted dandelion root tea, in the form of a nice salad made using the dandelion leaves, boiled or sauteed greens or in the form of dandelion flower head fritter. You can even add the petals of the flower to your regular cake or pancake batter.
Is it safe to consume Dandelion when you are on medication?
Dandelion, or any naturopathic, herbal, homeopathic or traditional medicine, may be able to change the way the medication is absorbed into the bloodstream, processed by the liver and excreted out by the urine. It is always advisable to consult your regular doctor about any remedy you wish to try or at least keep them in the loop about the remedies you are currently experimenting with.
In the case of Dandelion, it is best to consult your doctor before consuming it if you are taking any of the following medications-
Estrogen based contraceptives
Statin Drugs- Atorvastatin or Lovastatin
Does dandelion root tea make you sleepy?
Dandelion root tea does not have sleep inducing properties. It rather works as a stimulant and acts as a substitute for coffee. If you are looking for teas to induce sleep or relaxation, you may try consuming chamomile tea
Does dandelion tea work as a laxative?
Dandelion root is known to behave as a mild laxative which helps to soften stool and ensure easy bowel movements. Dandelion tea also improves bile production in the body which in turn promotes healthy metabolism of fats.
Can dandelion tea help in controlling urinary tract infections (UTI)?
UTI treatment with dandelion – Dandelion tea is often used to prevent and treat urinary tract infections (UTI). Dandelion tea made with its roots and leaves (dandelion leaf extract) may help boost urine production and reduce the infection. Moreover, a combination of uva ursi (bearberry) and dandelion leaf extract tea may help treat urinary tract infection quickly.
Is dandelion good for skin?
Subtract a few years from your skin by taking dandelion. A few animal and test tube studies show indication of significant skin benefits after consumption of dandelion flower and leaf extract. A test tube study showed that consumption of dandelion root extract helped in generation of new skin cells which is associated with anti-aging. Dandelion extract can help protect our skin from common skin related problems like sunlight triggered skin damage, acne and delayed aging. This being said, more studies are needed to support the effects of dandelion on skin.