The dandelion has been a staple of the traditional herbal pharmacopeia for centuries. In Europe, the dandelion is still respected as the nutritional and medicinal powerhouse that it is, and here in the United States we are beginning to rediscover the benefits of including dandelion and dandelion root in our diets.
Among other things, dandelion root and other plants of the dandelion have been used as a gentle laxative, a digestive aid, to treat liver and kidney problems and to relieve inflammation, boils, fever and diarrhea. Dandelion root is known to stimulate the appetite and promote digestion. While the dandelion is still regarded as a noxious weed here in the United States, in Europe dandelion greens are often added to salads and used in the same way as lettuce and other greens, and dandelion root is believed to help regulate blood sugar levels.
What Dandelion Root Does:
Dandelion root provides vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D and vitamin B complex, as well as zinc, iron and potassium. Because of its iron content, it is widely used as a remedy for liver ailments, and has a diuretic effect that can help rid the liver of toxins. Potassium is also necessary for proper kidney function, and can help lower blood pressure. Vitamins A, C and B complex are all important for heart health, and there is some suggestion that dandelion root may help lower cholesterol.
Health Benefits of Dandelion Root:
Dandelion root is often used as a liver tonic. Among the health benefits attributed to dandelion root are:
- Dandelion root functions as a mild diuretic. Because potassium is often lost when using a diuretic, dandelion root is often a better choice for a diuretic than synthetic formulas.
- Because of its high iron and zinc content, dandelion root is often used as a treatment for anemia.
- Dandelion root has mild laxative properties and is often used to help maintain regularity.
- Dandelion root is also a mild appetite stimulant, and teas made from dandelion root and leaves are often used to help relieve digestive problems like flatulence, fullness and constipation.
- In Europe, dandelion root is highly regarded as a ‘liver tonic’.
- Dandelion root is high in Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin A and the B complex vitamins, all of which have antioxidant properties. For this reason, a number of ongoing studies are examining its effectiveness in fighting tumors and preventing cancer. The early results are mixed, but promising.
- There are also a number of studies examining the potential of dandelion root to lower cholesterol. Early results of at least one study show that dandelion root supplements may affect the cholesterol profile in diabetic mice positively by lowering LDL and triglycerides while increasing HDL. Again, research is in the early stages, and not all studies show the same promising results. It could, however, be an excellent addition to the diet to help keep total cholesterol and sugar levels within normal ranges.
- The B vitamin family in particular helps stabilize moods and is often recommended to those suffering from depression. Dandelion root is a high source of B complex vitamins.
- Because of its positive effects on the liver and digestion, dandelion root may help boost the effectiveness of other vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
Possible Side Effects of Dandelion Root
When taken as directed, dandelion root has shown no harmful side effects, though there have been rare reported cases of an allergy to dandelions. In addition, those taking pharmaceutical doses of lithium should not take dandelion root preparations without consulting a doctor as some studies have suggested that dandelion may increase the side effects of lithium.
Dandelion root has a long history in traditional medicine as an all-around digestive aid and beneficial liver preparation, and modern research is confirming a good deal of what’s been accepted in other cultures. Because dandelion root promotes good digestion, it’s an excellent addition to health and nutritional supplement products that provide other vitamins, minerals and enzymes.