Dandelions, which in French means Lions’ tooth, are classified under the group of flowering plants called Taraxacum that belongs in the Asteraceae family. These plant species are native to North America, Europe, and North Asia. Flowers classified under the Taraxacum are edible (from the flowers down to its roots) and full of nutrients. In some countries like Slovenia, Russia, Germany, Greece, China, and Korea, dandelions are part of the ingredients in some of their well-known cuisines.
Dandelion Root Overview
Some of us may consider dandelions as ordinary weeds and may not be aware that they are actually edible and have many health benefits. In some states in the US like Alaska, these plants are considered an invasive plant species that cause damage to their farms. But studies suggest that the use of dandelions for medicine and as food can be traced back since prehistory. China and most countries in Europe have been using dandelions as an herbal medicine for thousands of years. Traditionally, they use it to cure cyst, treat skin infections, reduce inflammations, and flush out toxins from the liver.
Ways to Use Dandelion Root
In Great Britain, dandelion roots are originally included in the ingredients of a popular British drink called Dandelions and Burdock. It’s also included in the traditional ingredients of root beer. Fermenting dandelion petals with any citrus fruits produce dandelion wines. During the Victorian era, it was usually added to salads. And it could also be a healthy alternative to any caffeine drinks. You can usually brew any part of the dandelion (the flowers, leaves, stem, or its root) to make a tea.
Dandelion flowers are usually consumed before they produce seed heads because at this stage the plant will become bitter. And to remove bitterness it is sometimes steamed or sautéed.
Dandelions are wild plants that can grow anywhere. You may find them in the wild or right at your backyard. But before you throw them away, you may want to consider its beneficial effects. The leaves alone are abundant in vitamins and minerals—vitamins A, C, K, calcium, potassium, iron, and manganese. Raw flowers are rich in antioxidants, polyphenol, angiogenic, and anti-inflammatory compounds.
The dandelion root is primarily used in making caffeine-free dandelion tea or coffee. In medicine, dandelion roots are used in treating acne, heartburn, high-cholesterol level, gastrointestinal problems, and eczema. Some research also suggests that the roots itself can help cure or prevent cancer, but these claims are not yet definitively proven. Thus, dandelion roots mustn’t replace prescribed medications and treatments.
Health benefits of dandelion roots
Dandelion leaves offer the same benefits but according to experts, the root is the most potent part of dandelions. Listed below are only a few of the health benefits of dandelion roots:
The root is usually used to detoxify the liver, pancreas, stomach, and kidney. Thus, it enhances health and improves the function of these organs.
The root also contains high levels of lipotropic compounds. This compound supports digestion by burning fats. A healthy amount of lipotropic in the body eliminates excess fat deposits in the liver, reducing the risk of any liver-related disease.
Studies also reveal that regular consumption of dandelion roots improve the production of bile, which leads to a healthier digestion process. Healthy digestion causes a higher metabolic rate that burns fats faster and eventually flushing them out of the body. This leads to a leaner and healthier weight.
Enhances the health of the brain
Dandelion is a good source of vitamin k and a nutrient called lecithin, which is known to improve brain activity and memory. Vitamin k, on the other hand, prevents any neurological damage from happening that may cause Alzheimer’s’ disease.
Regular intake of dandelion roots improves the immune system and defense against free radicals that enter our body. When these harmful elements enter the body, antioxidant compounds eliminate them before it causes damage to the cells.
Compounds in a dandelion root detoxify the body and studies show that it also contains properties that cleanses blood cells and improves hemoglobin count. Extracts from dandelion roots also contain properties that protect the liver from poisoning due to alcohol.
Its detoxifying property is an excellent addition to the daily consumption of individuals trying to lose weight.
Treatment for gastrointestinal problems
As mentioned, dandelion roots enhance the digestion process. It’s high in diuretic compounds. And it’s usually used for therapeutic purposes like treating constipation, stomach upset, intestinal gas, and appetite loss.
When dandelion roots are prepared as a tea and infused with any citrus fruits, it becomes a potent diuretic agent, especially for constipation. It breaks downs the wastes build up in the intestines, making it easier to flush out these wastes.
It is also believed that dandelion can treat jaundice (the yellowing of the skin or nails). This condition is caused by irregularities in the liver that involves bile production. Because dandelion is known to improve bile production, it may as well treat jaundice.
The phytonutrients and dietary fatty acids present in dandelion roots help reduce swelling experienced by the body, whether internal or external inflammations.
It also relieves pain caused by the inflammations.
Reduce the risk of cancer
Though inconclusive, initial results from the study suggest that dandelion contain a compound that counteracts cancer cells through apoptosis.
In general, dandelion roots are safe for consumption. However, there may be possible side effects like heartburn or diarrhea. Stop intake of dandelion if any side effects occur and contact your doctor immediately.
It may also cause allergic reactions to individuals with sensitive skins, either taken orally or applied directly to the skin. If an individual is confirmed to have allergic reactions to chrysanthemum and daisies, it is likely that he may also have an allergic reaction to dandelions. In any case, if you are considering dandelion roots, consult your doctor first.
Intake of dandelion products is not advisable to children’s and pregnant women. According to research, because of the presence of phytoestrogen in the dandelion, there is a possibility that it may affect fertility in women and reduce testosterone levels in man.
Dandelions also have a potential effect on medications when taken simultaneously; though it’s more likely to happen with the leaf parts than the roots.
Since most research about dandelion is not yet proven, it is advisable to consult your doctor or medical professional first before using dandelions.