To some, the common dandelion is just a bothersome weed. However, dandelion root has been used in traditional herbal medicine for hundreds of years. After examining the properties of dandelion in detail, modern science suggests that its root might have significant benefits that can keep you healthy and disease-free.
The dandelion plant (Taraxacum officinale) is a hardy perennial that grows wild in temperate regions worldwide. The scientific name for dandelions is "Taraxacum officinale;" "officinale" signifies the plant has medicinal properties. It has a thick, long taproot that has been used for centuries as a medicinal aid. Native Americans boiled the dandelion plant and used it to treat kidney disease, skin disorders and upset stomach. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is commonly recommended for digestive problems and to improve milk production in breast-feeding women, and European herbalists use dandelion for fever, diarrhea and diabetes, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Dandelion roots have been used to help liver, kidney and digestive functions; as a laxative; to treat jaundice, anemia, bladder infections and eczema; and to eliminate gallstones.Dandelion contains several biologically active constituents that make it potentially beneficial for your health.
Clinical research suggests that dandelion is an effective diuretic that increases urine output by the kidneys. In a study published in the "Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine" in 2009, human subjects consumed dandelion extract for one day while their urine production was monitored every few hours. Researchers found that dandelion caused a significant increase in urine output compared to the amount measured on the previous two days. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, increasing urine production dandelion could help rid your body of excess fluid, reduce high blood pressure and improve liver problems.
Some laboratory research also suggests that compounds in dandelion root might have anti-cancer properties. For example, in a study published in "Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin" of the compound lupeol from dandelion root, researchers found that the compound blocked growth of cultured melanoma cells and caused them to develop into non-cancerous, normal cells. Another study published in the same journal in 2002 found similar anti-cancer effects of taraxinic acid, another dandelion root compound, on cultured leukemia cells. While these are promising results from laboratory research, they need confirmation in large clinical trials with human subjects.
Digestive Aid – Dandelion acts as a mild laxative that promotes digestion, stimulates appetite, and balances the natural and beneficial bacteria in the intestines.
Kidney – This weed-like superfood is a diuretic that helps the kidneys clear out waste, salt, and excess water. This inhibits microbial growth in the urinary system too.
Liver – Dandelion has been shown to improve liver function by removing toxins and reestablishing hydration and electrolyte balance.
Antioxidants – Every part of the dandelion plant is rich in antioxidants that prevent free-radical damage to cells and DNA, slowing down the aging process in our cells.
Cancer – Dandelion acts against cancer to slow its growth and prevent its spread. The leaves are especially rich in the antioxidants and phytonutrients that combat cancer.
Diabetes – Recent animal studies show promise that dandelion helps regulate blood sugar and insulin levels.
High Blood Pressure – As a diuretic dandelion increases urination which then lowers blood pressure. The fiber and potassium in dandelion also regulate blood pressure.
Cholesterol – Animal studies have shown that dandelion lowers and control cholesterol levels.
Gallbladder – Dandelion increases bile production and reduces inflammation to help with gallbladder problems and blockages.
Inflammation – Dandelion contains essential fatty acids and phytonutrients that reduce inflammation throughout the body. This can relieve pain and swelling.
Immune System – Animal studies also show that dandelion boosts immune function and fights off microbes and fungi.