Dandelions might be considered just as pesky weeds which are only good for kids to blow at and play with, but the reality is that they are extremely useful plants and can be of immense help in several medical conditions.
The leaves of dandelions are a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. They also contain calcium in abundance, which is essential for the growth and development of bones. They also contain several antioxidants which are necessary for a healthy body.
The leaves supply the body with manganese that helps in forming connective tissues, blood-clotting, production of sex hormones, and strengthening of bones. They also help in fat and carbohydrate metabolism and normal brain and nerve function.
They also contain high quantities of sodium, B complex vitamins, protein, iron, and magnesium. Dandelions have been used in traditional medicines for several centuries now, with several physicians extolling its virtues, and have been made part of Kashmiri, Slovenian, Chinese, Korean, and several other cuisines for this very reason.
Health Benefits of Dandelion
Keeps Bones Strong
Strong bones are necessary to ensure a strong musculoskeletal structure and make sure that you are safe from injuries. Dandelion helps in keeping your bones strong since they contain calcium, which, in this form, is well absorbed by the body. Compounds like vitamin C and luteolin prevent age-related damage of the bones.
Gives You a Healthy Heart
Optimum heart function is necessary for normal functioning of the body, and can cause several circulatory issues if it is hampered. Potassium found in the leaves of dandelion helps improve heart function by aiding smooth muscle contraction which is of immense benefit to the heart.
Improves Oxygen Carrying Capacity of Blood
Blood is the medium which makes it possible for oxygen to be carried to various parts of the body. As we know, oxygen is the basic necessity for us to survive. When the availability of free oxygen in the body reduces, it becomes difficult to carry our bodily processes effectively.
Transport of oxygen is made possible by iron present in blood which binds with hemoglobin. The amount of hemoglobin in the body is essentially the amount of oxygen available to the body for various processes. Dandelion is a rich source of iron and increases hemoglobin levels.
Gives You a Healthy Digestive System
Dandelion is rich in dietary fiber. This makes it a great aid for intestinal health and proper digestion. Dietary fiber promotes healthy bowel movements by adding the required bulk to the food, thereby preventing diarrhea as well.
It also helps to stimulate appetite and is used in cases of trauma or for patients who have had a surgery.
Improves Health of Your Kidneys
A clean body is very important for your health and therefore cleansing it regularly is necessary. This job is carried out by our kidneys. But due to our current way of living, choice of food etc., it gets difficult for the kidneys to effectively cleanse our body. Dandelion can play a major role in reducing this stress as it is a diuretic. It helps the kidneys wash out wastes, excess water, and salt by increasing urine production. It also inhibits microbial growth in the urinary system.
This causes the stress on the kidneys to come down considerably which helps them survive longer.
Improves Liver Function
Jaundice is a condition in which the liver is affected, and starts producing excess amounts of bile, which enters the blood and affects the metabolism of the body. Three main steps have to be followed to treat jaundice. The first one is that the excess production of bile has to be halted. The second step is to eliminate the pre-existing bile from the body. The third and final stage is to fight the underlying cause or the infection which is causing this release.
Dandelion is capable of enforcing each of the above-listed steps. It promotes liver health and regulates the production of bile. Due to its diuretic nature, it helps the kidneys remove excess bile and fight the viral infection as well due to its properties of acting as a disinfectant and antioxidant.
Helps fight Diabetes
Dandelion is a boon for diabetics as it stimulates insulin production and helps in blood-sugar regulation.
Another benefit is that dandelion juice helps to reduce the blood sugar levels due to its diuretic nature, which means that, over a period of time, the spikes in blood sugar are reduced, which helps the body recover from the ill effects of diabetes.
Treats Skin Conditions
The sap extracted from dandelions, called dandelion milk, is highly effective in treating skin problems caused by microbial and fungal infections. The sap is highly alkaline and has many germicidal, fungicidal and insecticidal properties. This makes it optimal for treating itches, eczema, ringworm and other conditions, and all this without having to face the risk of side effects or hormonal imbalances caused by pharmaceutical solutions.
Helps in Weight Loss
The excess water, salts, and fats in our body are excreted in the form of urine. Urine is 4% fat. Dandelions being diuretic in nature, promote urination, therefore increasing weight loss, since more urination results in expulsion of more fat. Dandelion also has low levels of calories and higher levels of proteins, even more than spinach. It is also used as a low- calorie sweetener which does the job without adding unnecessary calories to your diet.
The fact that it is high in fiber is also one of the reasons why it helps to promote weight loss.
Helps Prevent Cancer
Dandelion contains many antioxidants like Vitamin C and luteolin, which reduce the free radicals present in the body. These antioxidants help to reduce the risk of cancer. They fight cancer by obstructing the development of cancerous cells. Luteolin has been found to actually poison cancer cells, rendering them unable to reproduce and metastasize.
Improves Brain Health
The brain is the most important organ in our body. Protecting it and keeping it healthy is very necessary. The flowers of dandelions are a rich source of lecithin, a nutrient that elevates the levels of acetylcholine in the brain. It is a substance that maintains brain function and could quite possibly slow or even stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Regulates Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is often regulated by inducing urination. Dandelions, being efficient diuretics, can fulfil this purpose as well. Another reason why Dandelions are effective in regulating blood pressure is due to their high potassium content. Potassium replaces sodium in the blood and reduces the blood pressure.
The high fiber content of dandelions also reduces cholesterol in the body, which effectively reduces blood pressure.
Strengthens the Immune System
Several studies have found that dandelion has the capacity to boost the immune system. One study has conclusively shown that using Dandelions in conjunction with medicines is much more effective than using medicines alone.
Dandelion pollen may cause allergies to some people when eaten, or on contact with skin.
Due to the high levels of potassium, it might also cause hyperkalemia when taken in conjunction with diuretics which spare potassium.
Dandelion sap should be kept away from eyes. It is advisable to wash with fresh, clean water and to approach a medical practitioner if contact does occur.