Last modified: July 9, 2019
Richard Honaker M.D.View Full Profile
You may think twice before pulling up dandelions once you learn all of the potential health benefits of this ‘superfood’ growing in your yard.
They are one of the first signs of spring. Those sunny yellow blossoms that often pop up unwanted on lawns and community parks may be seen as a nuisance, but they are actually the complete opposite.
We may spend hours pulling dandelions from our lawns, but they have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 1000 years for their health benefits.
While they may be called weeds by modern mouths, our ancestors loved dandelions as both a source of food and medicine. In fact, people actually used to clear space in their gardens to let them grow.
It is actually believed that dandelions were brought to North America from Europe as medicine. Dandelions have been used medicinally for thousands of years. They have been prescribed for everything from warts to the plague.
Are Dandelions Medicinal?
The medicinal value of dandelions has yet to be proven because of a lack of human trials. However, many test tube and small animal studies have shown some promising results.
Dandelions are full of antioxidants which are molecules to help prevent or neutralize the effects of free radicals on your body. Excess free radicals can contribute to accelerated aging and disease development.
One study published determined that dandelion can kill leukemia cells. Another showed evidence dandelions can also cause death in aggressive pancreatic cells. Several studies have suggested that dandelion may protect against liver damage.
In addition several studies have shown other potential health benefits including:
- anti colon cancer benefits
- Test tube and small animal studies have suggested that dandelions may be able to reduce inflammation.
- One study on the effects of dandelions in mice showed a reduction in both cholesterol levels and triglyceride who were treated with dandelion extract.
- Several test tube studies determined that dandelions may be able to dramatically reduce the ability for viruses to replicate.
- Dandelion may also be beneficial when used on skin. One study showed that dandelion extract increased the generation of new skin cells. Another determined the extract may reduce inflammation and irritation while increasing collagen and hydration production.
Should Dandelions Be Eaten?
Dandelions can be a great addition to your diet, but they may not be safe for everyone. Dandelions are more nutritious than many common vegetables. In fact, it was seen as a cure for many ailments when it was discovered that their root cause was vitamin deficiencies. Dandelions have more vitamin A than spinach, more vitamin C than tomatoes and have high levels of calcium, potassium and iron.
Dandelions are also a great remedy for a hangover, since they help flush hangover-inducing toxins from the liver.
However, because of a lack of human trials, Dr. Richard Honaker suggests avoiding adding this nutritious wildflower to your diet if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or on lithium.
There are no suggested doses available but here is information from The U.S. Library of Medicine
- Fresh leaves: 4–10 grams, daily.
- Dried leaves: 4–10 grams, daily.
- Leaf tincture: 0.4–1 teaspoon (2–5 ml), three times a day.
- Fresh leaf juice: 1 teaspoon (5 ml), twice daily.
- Fluid extract: 1–2 teaspoon (5–10 ml), daily.
- Fresh roots: 2–8 grams, daily.
- Dried powder: 250–1,000 mg, four times a day.
Risk of Pesticides
Another concern can be the use of pesticides. It is always important to forage your dandelions from areas where you are certain pesticides have not been sprayed, such as your own yard.
Pesticides are not only dangerous for humans. It is estimated that 80 million pounds of pesticides are used on US lawns annually. These have a horrible impact on wildlife. It is estimated that 7 million wild birds die each year as a result of these pesticides.
While dandelions offer many health benefits for humans, they are also essential for the ecosystem. Dandelions bloom earlier than many other spring flowers. They provide much needed pollen and nectar for bees searching for their first springtime meal.
Change your Diet Change your Healthcare
Are you unsure if adding dandelions to your diet is the right choice for you? Don’t stress over a few wildflowers! Connect easily with one of our doctors now to have all your concerns put to rest. You may start rejoicing at the sight of these iconic yellow buds each spring!
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Disclaimer: This article provides general information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or medical condition. If you require specific advice, please consult one of our medical professionals through the app. However, in case of an emergency, please call 911.