If you’re like most people, each spring you partake in a battle between your lawn and those dreaded dandelions. As a kid I never used to understand why my Dad hated dandelions so much. I just thought they were a cool yellow color and it was fun when they turned into a fuzzy puff ball.
As an adult, I understand why my Dad always seemed grumpy when the dandelions started growing. If you want a pristine lawn, all of those yellow circles can screw it up.
But here’s the thing…
While you may see dandelions as a stubborn weed that refuses to vacate your property, this flowering plant has been used in herbal medicine practices around the world for thousands of years. In fact, while many of us here in the states hate dandelions, they are revered for their medicinal properties in many parts of the world.
Once you learn the following 6 health benefits dandelions can offer, maybe you’ll decide to use them in your kitchen instead of curse them through your window.
1. Highly Nutritious
From root to flower, that patch of dandelion can go up against just about any vegetable when it comes to nutrition. Not only do they contain vitamins A, C and K, they also contain vitamin E, folate and small amounts of other B vitamins. Plus, they offer a good amount of fiber. But perhaps even more impressive are the minerals found in dandelions, such as iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Dandelion greens can be eaten cooked or raw making them very easy to add to your meals.
2. Loaded with Powerful Antioxidants
If you are wondering how one plant can offer such broad applications for health, you need look no further than its antioxidant content. As you most likely know, much of the disease our body develops is a result from free radical damage. Therefor, ingesting enough antioxidants to counter this damage is necessary for optimal health.
Dandelion contain high levels of the antioxidant beta-carotene, which is known to provide strong protection against cellular damage and oxidative stress. They also happen to be a rich source of another kind of antioxidant called polyphenols, which can also help to slow aging and prevent certain diseases.
3. May Offer Anti-Inflammatory benefits
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that another root cause of aging and disease is inflammation. Well, those polyphenols I just mentioned have been shown to be effective in reducing inflammation in the body.
While acute, or sudden, inflammation is a natural response by the body to an illness or injury, chronic inflammation, if left untreated, can lead to permanent damage to tissues, organs and even your DNA.
Certain test-tube studies have shown a reduction in inflammation markers in cells that were treated with dandelion compounds. In one study with mice with inflammatory lung disease, dandelion compounds were given, and the result was a significant reduction in inflammation.
Though more human studies will need to be conducted, these animal studies suggest dandelion could be a natural way to reduce inflammation in humans as well.
4. May Lower Blood Pressure
One effective treatment for high blood pressure is to prescribe a diuretic that can help the body release excess fluid. This naturally lowers blood pressure.
Traditional herbal medicine practices use dandelion because they offer a diuretic effect. In addition, dandelion is a rich source of potassium, a mineral that has long been linked to lowering blood pressure.
5. Liver Health
Your liver is the organ responsible for removing all sorts of toxins from the blood. In this way, it sort of acts like a HEPA filter in an air purifier. But, eventually that HEPA filter gets clogged with debris and either needs to be cleaned or replaced.
Your liver also needs a good detoxing from time-to-time. Well animal studies have found that dandelion have a protective effect on liver tissue in the presence of toxic substances and stress. Some studies have even found dandelion extract may reduce levels of excess fat stored in the liver.
Further research will be needed to determine how dandelion impact liver health in humans.
6. May Assist in Blood Sugar Management
If you or someone you love has diabetes, you know how difficult it can be to sustain healthy blood sugar levels. Dandelion contain two bioactive compounds called chicoric and chlorogenic acid. These are found in all parts of the plant and test-tube and animal studies have shown these acids can improve insulin secretion from the pancreas while simultaneously improving the absorption of glucose (sugar) in muscle tissue. This in turn leads to improved insulin sensitivity and reduced blood sugar.
You can either curse those weeds or ingest them to leverage their health benefits. You can eat all of the plant. Leaves, flower and stems are often eaten raw in a salad but can also be boiled into a tea. The root is usually dried and ground, then made into a tea.
It’s important to mention that if you live in a neighborhood and your neighbors use chemicals on their lawn to keep dandelion away, some of these chemicals could have washed over into your lawn, posing health issues should you ingest your dandelion.
If you live out in the country or far away from neighbors that may use toxic herbicides, then you should be safe to eat the dandelion you find on your property.
Dandelion also comes in supplements and teas as well, so you needn’t harvest your own to reap the benefits.
And, as always, if you’re taking any prescription medications, always consult your healthcare provider prior to taking dandelion.
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