- The leaves, flowers and root of the dandelion plant have been consumed for centuries in a variety of ways
- Dandelions are a rich source of numerous vitamins and minerals and have many potential health benefits
- Dandelion is safe to consume daily but there are some side effects and drug interactions to be aware of
The dandelion plant, Taraxacum officinale in Latin, is native to Asia and Europe and arrived in the Americas at the time of the Mayflower.
It is a hardy perennial with toothy, spatula-like leaves and green or purple stems that are capped by bright yellow flowers. Dandelion flowers open with the sun in the morning and close in the evening or during gloomy weather.
The dandelion has been used in many forms of traditional medicine for centuries.
There are records of Arabian physicians using the plant in medicine in as early as the 10th and 11th centuries. (Source)
Its greens can be eaten raw or cooked, and the leaves, flowers, and roots of the plant are commonly found in herbal teas and supplements as they are thought to have numerous nutritional and health benefits.
What Is In Dandelion?
Dandelion greens offer your body a lot of nutrition with every bite. The leaves are rich in numerous vitamins and minerals.
Dandelion greens are a good source of:
And a very good source of:
- Dietary fibre
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B6
And it’s not just the leaves that are packed with goodness. Other parts of the dandelion plant, such as the root and the flowers, also contain beneficial nutrients.
It is because of this strong nutrient profile that dandelion has been seen to impart various health benefits.
The Benefits Of Dandelion
While dandelion has been used in traditional medicine to treat a range of ailments for centuries, current scientific understanding of dandelion leaves is still in the early stages and requires further research and testing.
Based on current scientific evidence, the potential health benefits of including dandelion in your diet are:
It Provides Antioxidants
Antioxidants are substances that protect our cells from damage by fighting molecules called free radicals.
Free radicals are found in the environment and also created in our cells through normal body processes. When levels of free radicals rise and outpace antioxidant levels, the imbalance causes oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is associated with several illnesses including diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease and cancer. This is why maintaining strong levels of antioxidants is important for our health. (Source)
Antioxidants are present in all whole foods of plant or animal origin but are especially high in fruits, vegetables and other plants.
Dandelions are one of the richest sources of beta carotene, a form of vitamin A and an antioxidant, as well as polyphenols, another type of antioxidant. These compounds can help to protect the body against cell damage and oxidative stress, contributing to better health. (Source)
It May Reduce Inflammation
Polyphenols have also been seen to have anti-inflammatory effects, which might be why dandelion has been commonly used to tackle inflammation.
Dandelion extract was seen to reduce inflammation in a test-tube study. (Source)
And another study in mice with lung disease found that chemicals present in dandelions resulted in a significant reduction in lung inflammation. (Source)
However, neither of these studies were conducted on humans. More research is needed to conclude that dandelion reduces inflammation in the human body.
It May Help To Regulate Blood Sugar
Dandelions contain chicoric acid and chlorogenic acid, two compounds that may help with regulating blood sugar. In this way, dandelion may be useful in managing type 2 diabetes.
Non-human studies have found that these compounds may improve the secretion of insulin (a hormone involved in regulating blood sugar levels) and the absorption of glucose in your muscles, leading to improved insulin sensitivity and reduced blood sugar levels. (Source)
This, combined with dandelion’s antihyperglycemic, antioxidative, and anti-inflammatory properties may help to treat type 2 diabetes. (Source)
Although these results are encouraging, further research is needed on humans to make any definitive claims.
It May Regulate Cholesterol Levels
Substances found in dandelion may potentially lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.
Smoking, drinking alcohol, consuming a high-fat diet, and obesity can contribute to high cholesterol levels. With a healthy diet and regular exercise, dandelion may contribute to regulating cholesterol.
Research shows that dandelion leaf can reduce triglyceride accumulation in fat cells and reduce levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides in animals. (Source) (Source)
A study investigating the effect of dandelion on rabbits found that adding dandelion roots and leaves to a high-cholesterol diet managed to lower the rabbits’ cholesterol levels! (Source)
Again, more studies like these would need to be conducted in humans before dandelion could be recommended for lowering cholesterol levels.
It May Reduce Blood Pressure
Dandelion has long been acknowledged as a diuretic, it is even sometimes called ‘piss en lit’ in French, which literally means wet the bed. A diuretic is a substance that increases the body’s production of urine, ridding the body of excess water and salt.
By getting rid of excess fluid from the body, diuretic medications can be used to treat high blood pressure. (Source)
There is only one small scientific study into the diuretic effect of dandelion and it did conclude that dandelion did indeed act as a diuretic. (Source)
Dandelion also has a high potassium content. There is clinical evidence to show that potassium can help reduce blood pressure in those with elevated levels. (Source)
Due to its potassium content and diuretic effect, dandelion may be useful in those looking to reduce blood pressure levels. However, this depends on further research.
It May Support Liver Health
Dandelion has been used in traditional medicine to treat liver conditions, with some modern studies supporting these health benefits.
Animal studies have found that dandelion extract can help to prevent liver damage from exposure to sodium dichromate, an environmental pollutant that can affect liver function. (Source)
It has also been seen to reduce levels of excess fat stored in the liver and protect against oxidative stress. (Source)
There is also some research to show that dandelion may be beneficial in helping to prevent and treat some liver diseases, including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and alcohol-related liver damage. (Source)
However, human research is lacking.
It May Reduce The Growth Of Certain Cancers
There have been claims that dandelion may help individuals reduce the growth of certain types of cancer.
Research so far looking at dandelion’s impact on cancer growth has found that it may help with slowing the growth of certain cancers, however, this has all been non-human research.
A study in rats found that dandelion root extract modified specific pathways involved in suppressing the growth and spread of breast cancer cells. (Source)
Other studies examining cancer growth in test tubes have found that dandelion root extract may slow the growth of cancer cells in the liver, colon, and stomach tissue. (Source) (Source) (Source)
However, although these findings are encouraging, more animal and human testing are needed on the potential effects of dandelion on cancer and other issues to prove these theories.
How To Take Dandelion
Dandelion leaves, stems, and flowers can be eaten in their natural state, cooked or raw. You may see dandelion leaves in salads.
However, picking dandelions from your back garden or any public place is not recommended and deemed unsafe due to the potential presence of pesticides or animal excrement.
Dandelion root is usually found dried or ground.
Dandelion is commonly taken as a tea and is also available as a supplement in capsule, extract, tincture or powder form, such as in the Supergreen Tonik.
Due to the lack of scientific research on dandelion in humans, data on safe dosages is limited.
Renowned physicians, the European Commission, and the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia recommended the following range of doses for dandelion. (Source)
- Fresh leaves: 4-10 g daily
- Dried leaves: 4-10 g daily
- Leaf tincture: 2-5 mls, three times a day
- Fresh leaf juice: 1 teaspoon twice daily
- Fluid extract: 1-2 teaspoon daily
- Fresh roots: 2-8 g daily
- Dried powder extract: 250-1000 mg four times a day
It is important to note that, when in supplement form, the potency and effectiveness of dandelion can vary widely between manufacturers.
A lot of supplement companies these days are masking the quantities of ingredients used by labelling their products as proprietary blends.
This makes it very hard for the consumer to decipher how much of each ingredient is present in the product.
This is not only misleading, as you have no idea whether particular ingredients are present in large enough quantities to see effects, but also dangerous if there happens to be a high amount of a particular ingredient that may be harmful.
Human Tonik powders never rely on proprietary blends. All ingredients are listed individually with the amount per serving for each.
The Supergreen Tonik has 500mg of dandelion leaf extract per serving, making it safe for consumption daily.
Potential Side Effects Of Dandelion
The FDA deems dandelion as generally being safe to include in food products. However, some people may experience side effects after consuming dandelion.
Some people have a dandelion allergy and may experience an allergic reaction such as a rash, difficulty breathing, swollen throat, or itchy eyes if exposed to dandelion.
If you are sensitive to dandelions or certain other flowers or plants, such as ragweed, daisies chrysanthemums, or marigolds, do not use dandelion supplements.
Occasionally, dandelion may cause stomach upset in some people.
If you find that you are frequently suffering from stomach discomfort after consuming dandelion, stop taking it and consider talking to a healthcare practitioner.
Interference with medication
There is some evidence that dandelion may interact with medications. (Source)
Dandelion may act as a diuretic, which can make drugs leave your body faster and may interact with some medications that are broken down by the liver.
If you’re taking any prescription medications, consult a healthcare professional before taking dandelion.
Medications that may interact with dandelion include:
- Blood thinning medications
- Medications for diabetes
- Medications broken down by the liver
Dandelion is an ancient plant that has been used for its medicinal properties from as early as the 10th century. It can be eaten raw or cooked, as tea, or in supplement form.
A rich source of numerous vitamins and minerals, dandelion may be beneficial in providing the body with antioxidants, regulating blood sugar, reducing cholesterol and blood pressure, contributing to liver health and reducing the growth of certain types of cancer.
However, scientific research into the benefits of dandelion in humans is insufficient and so more evidence is needed before any definitive claims can be made.
Dandelion is safe to eat daily as long as no unpleasant side effects or drug interactions are experienced.
Lucy Brennan is a registered associate nutritionist (ANutr) and freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition and wellness content. She holds a BSc. (First Class Hons) in Public Health Nutrition and has over 4 years’ experience working in health communication, which is where her passion lies. She has worked in roles with The Irish Food Board and FleishmanHillard PR, on their healthcare team, working with national and international health companies. Using this experience, Lucy now writes content in a freelance capacity. Lucy is dedicated to providing evidence-based content that is both engaging and accessible and inspires readers to make informed choices regarding their health.