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Contrary to popular belief, dandelions are not just pesky garden weeds. They may have some health benefits.
In fact, people have used the plant to help treat ailments for several centuries. In this article, learn more about dandelion and 10 of its possible health benefits.
We also cover how to use it and possible side effects.
Dandelion is a plant with yellow flowers.Taraxacum officinale is the most common variety of this plant, and it grows in many parts of the world.
Botanists consider dandelions to be herbs. People use the leaves, stem, flower, and root of the dandelion for medicinal purposes.
The potential benefits of dandelion include:
1. Providing antioxidants
Antioxidants work to neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals. The human body produces free radicals naturally, but they cause harm by accelerating aging or the progression of certain diseases.
The flower of the dandelion is also full of polyphenols, which are another type of antioxidant.
2. Reducing cholesterol
Dandelions contain bioactive compounds that may help lower a person’s cholesterol.
One study from 2010 examined the effects of dandelion consumption in rabbits. Its results found that dandelion root and leaf could help lower cholesterol in animals on a high-cholesterol diet.
Another study in mice found that dandelion consumption reduced total cholesterol and levels of fat in the liver. The researchers concluded that dandelion might one day help treat obesity-related nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
However, testing on humans is necessary to help determine how effective dandelion could be for lowering cholesterol.
3. Regulating blood sugar
There is some evidence to suggest that dandelions contain compounds that may help with regulating blood sugar.
In 2016, some researchers proposed that dandelion’s antihyperglycemic, antioxidative, and anti-inflammatory properties may help treat type 2 diabetes. However, further research is required to make any definitive claims.
4. Reducing inflammation
Some studies indicate that dandelion extracts and compounds may help reduce inflammation in the body.
In one 2014 study, researchers found that chemicals present in dandelions had some positive effects on reducing inflammatory responses.
They conducted the study in cells and not in human participants, which means that more studies are necessary to conclude that dandelion reduces inflammation in the human body.
5. Lowering blood pressure
There is little research to support the use of dandelion for lowering blood pressure.
However, dandelions are a good source of potassium. There is clinical evidence that shows that potassium can help reduce blood pressure.
6. Aiding weight loss
Some researchers have proposed that dandelion could help people achieve their weight loss goals. This is based on the plant’s ability to improve carbohydrate metabolism and reduce fat absorption.
A small study of mice found that chlorogenic acid, a chemical present in dandelions, may help reduce weight gain and lipid retention. Strong evidence to support this claim is lacking, however.
7. Reducing cancer risk
Some limited, but positive, research has indicated that dandelion may help reduce the growth of certain types of cancer.
One study examining cancer growth in a test tube determined that dandelion extract may help reduce the growth of liver cancer.
However, as with other potential benefits, more research is required to show how effective dandelions can be as part of cancer treatment.
8. Boosting the immune system
There is growing evidence that suggests that dandelions can help boost the immune system.
Researchers have found that dandelions show both antiviral and antibacterial properties. For example, one 2014 study found that dandelions help limit the growth of hepatitis B in both human and animal cells in test tubes.
More research is now required to determine the impact of dandelions on the immune system, however.
9. Aiding digestion
Some people use dandelion as a traditional remedy for constipation and other digestion issues.
A study looking at animal digestion indicated that some chemicals present in dandelions helped improve the digestive system.
The study saw a reduction in the resistance in food moving to rodents’ small intestines. Research is now needed on humans to test for similar results.
10. Keeping skin healthy
Some research indicates that dandelion may help protect the skin from sun damage.
Ultraviolet (UV) light causes considerable damage to the skin and contributes to skin aging. A 2015 study on skin cells in a test tube found that dandelion could reduce the impact of one type of damaging UV light.
Protecting the skin from UV damage can help a person look younger for longer. Research in humans is needed to verify these results.
Dandelion leaves are sometimes present in salads, but they are not widely available in all areas. Picking dandelions in a backyard is unsafe due to the potential presence of pesticides or animal excrement.
However, it is possible to obtain dandelion supplements or teas and coffees infused with dandelion root. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recognized dandelion as generally being safe to include in food products.
Data on safe doses of dandelion supplements are limited. Similar to other supplements, its potency and effectiveness can vary widely between manufacturers.
Dandelion supplements can cause allergic reactions in some people. People should not use dandelion supplements if they are sensitive to dandelions or certain other plants, such as ragweed, daisies, or chrysanthemums, or marigolds.
People trying supplements should follow instructions on the bottle for recommended doses and always speak to a doctor before taking them.
Dandelions have many potential health benefits. However, many of the claims need additional research to prove dandelion’s effectiveness in humans.
Dandelions are rich in nutrients and could be a healthful addition to a person’s diet or daily supplements. As with any supplement, it is best to speak to a doctor before taking them to discuss possible risks and interactions with other medications.