Contrary to popular belief, dandelions are not just pesky garden weeds. In fact, people have used the plant to help treat ailments for several centuries.

Dandelions may benefit human health in a number of ways.

This article discusses 10 of its possible health benefits, how to use it, and its possible side effects.

Dandelion is a plant with yellow flowers. T araxacum 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, stems, flowers, and roots of the dandelion for medicinal purposes.

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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.

Dandelions contain beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage. Research shows that carotenoids such as beta-carotene play a vital role in reducing cell damage.

The flower of the dandelion is also full of flavonoids and polyphenols, which are other types of antioxidants.

2. Reducing cholesterol

Dandelions contain bioactive compounds that may help lower a person’s cholesterol.

Research conducted in vivo and in vitro has shown that dandelion may be able to help reduce blood lipids. This can include lipids, including cholesterol and triglycerides.

It is possible that people can use dandelion to help treat high cholesterol, but more research is still necessary.

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.

However, they conducted the study on cells and not on human participants, which means that more research is needed 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, dandelion leaves are a good source of potassium. There is clinical evidence that shows that potassium can help reduce blood pressure.

For example, a meta-analysis of 15 randomized controlled trials found that people taking a daily potassium supplement saw a significant reduction in their blood pressure. The reduction in blood pressure was greater among people with pre-existing high blood pressure.

6. Aiding weight loss

Some researchers have proposed that dandelion could help people achieve their weight loss goals.

Researchers believe that compounds found in the dandelion plant may promote improved carbohydrate metabolism and reduced fat absorption.

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.

So far, studies have looked at dandelion’s impact on cancer growth in test tubes and found that it may help with slowing the growth of certain cancers.

One study examining cancer growth in a test tube determined that dandelion extract may help reduce the growth of liver cancer. Other research has shown similar benefits for colon cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, and prostate cancer.

However, as with other potential benefits, researchers need to do more studies 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.

However, researchers need to do more studies to determine the impact of dandelions on the immune system.

9. Aiding digestion

Some people use dandelion as a traditional remedy for constipation and other digestion issues.

A rodent study investigating the effect of dandelions on digestion found that certain chemical compounds present in dandelions improved gastric emptying.

The study saw a reduction in the resistance of food moving to the rodents’ small intestines. Researchers now need to see whether dandelion can have the same effect on humans.

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 protect the skin from premature aging. Researchers need to conduct studies on humans to verify these results.

11. Promoting liver health

Research shows that dandelion may be able to help prevent and treat some liver diseases. This includes acetaminophen-induced liver injury (AILI), nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and alcohol-related liver damage.

However, not all of the research was conducted in vivo or on humans, so more studies are needed to determine if dandelion can actually be used medicinally for these purposes.

Dandelion leaves are sometimes present in salads, but a person cannot find them 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) has recognized dandelion as generally being safe to include in food products.

Data on safe doses of dandelion supplements is 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 flowers or plants, such as ragweed, daisies chrysanthemums, or marigolds.

People trying supplements should follow instructions on the bottle for recommended doses and always speak to a doctor before taking them.

The following are answers to some common questions about dandelion:

Is it ok to eat a dandelion?

Dandelion is safe to eat. It is possible, for example, to put it in soup or a salad. A person can also use the flowers to make wine. However, it is best to eat it in moderation. In some people consuming a lot of dandelion can have a negative effect on health. In particular, this can impact people living with diabetes or taking medications like blood thinners, lithium, or diuretics.

Can I eat dandelion from my yard?

It is safe to eat dandelion growing in a person’s yard, but there are some safety rules a person should follow. A person should never harvest and eat plants in a yard that has been sprayed with pesticides or from a yard close to a road that spreads fuel emissions or dust that may cover the plant.

Are all dandelions the same?

T araxacum officinale is the most common variety of dandelion, but there are actually hundreds of different species.

Dandelions have many potential health benefits. However, many of the claims need additional research to prove the dandelion’s effectiveness in humans.

Dandelions are rich in antioxidants 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.