The health benefits of dandelion include relief from liver disorders, diabetes, urinary disorders, acne, jaundice, cancer and anemia. It also helps in maintaining bone health, skin care and weight loss.
Perhaps dandelion is more popular as an ornamental flowering plant than as a medicine. The flowers of dandelion look brilliant and can be seen in various gardens and parks. There are many varieties of dandelion, but the common dandelion is scientifically known as Taraxacum Officinale. Dandelion, which literally translates into “lion’s tooth” in French, is rich in vitamin-A, C, iron and calcium and detoxifiers which explains its use in medicines. We shall find out what we can do with dandelion apart from using it to decorate our gardens and rooms.
The health benefits of dandelion include the following:
- Bone Health: Dandelion is rich in calcium, which is essential for growth and strength of bones, and is rich is anti oxidants like vitamin-C and Luteolin, which protect bones from age related damages due to free radicals, such as weakening and loss in density.
- Liver Disorders: Dandelion can help liver in many ways. While its anti oxidants such as vitamin-C and Luteolin keeps it functioning in full gear and protect it from aging, other compounds in it help treating hemorrhage in liver, maintaining proper flow of bile etc. It also stimulates liver and promotes digestion.
- Diabetes: Dandelion juice can help diabetic patients by stimulating production of insulin from pancreas and thus help keeping low the blood sugar level. Since it diuretic in nature, it makes the diabetic patients urinate frequently which too helps remove the extra sugar from the body. Moreover, diabetics are prone to renal problems. The diuretic properties of dandelion can help removing the sugar deposition in the kidneys through urine. Moreover, dandelion juice is slightly bitter to taste, which also effectively lowers sugar level in the blood, as all bitter substances do.
- Urinary Disorders: Dandelion is highly diuretic in nature. Thereby it helps clean deposits of toxic substances in the kidneys and the urinary system. Moreover, its disinfectant properties inhibit microbial growth in the urinary system. In fact, the diuretic properties of dandlion are so strong that in French its is also called “pissenlit” which means “urinate in bed”.
- Skin Care: Dandelion sap, also known as dandelion milk, is useful in treating skin diseases which are caused due to microbial and fungal infection, as this sap is highly alkaline and have germicidal, insecticidal and fungicidal properties. Care should be taken while using this sap as to avoid its contact with eyes. This sap can be used on itches, ringworm, eczema etc. without risk.
- Acne: Dandelion juice is a good detoxifier, diuretic, stimulant and anti oxidant. These four properties make it a good treatment for acne. Before we know how it treats acne, we must know what causes it. Acne is caused mainly during teens, when the body undergoes many physiological and hormonal changes. The hormones, which bring about changes in the body, if do not maintain proper ratio among themselves or are not regulated properly, tend to deposit as toxic substances in the body which tend to come out with sweat through the sweat glands or sebaceous glands on the skin. Now, during these changes, these glands secret more oils which, mixed with dead skin, block the pores and the secretion is obstructed. Due to this, these toxic substances cannot escape and result in acne. This is further worsened by the microbial infections on the effected places. Dandelion juice, being a stimulant, diuretic and detoxifier in nature, can help regulate proper secretion of hormones, increases sweating and widens up the pores facilitating removal of toxics through sweat and also through urine, as it is diuretic too. Its sap, if externally applied on acne, can inhibit microbial infection.
- Weight Loss: Our urine contains up to 4% of fats. So, more we urinate, more water and fats are lost from the body. Dandelion, being diuretic in nature, promotes urinating and thereby helping lose weight without side effects.
- Cancer: Dandelion is high in anti oxidants such as vitamin-C and Luteolin which reduce the free radicals (very much responsible for causing cancer) in the body, thereby reducing the risk of cancer. It also detoxifies the body, which also helps protect from cancer.
- Jaundice: Jaundice is primarily a disorder of the liver in which it starts over producing bile, which ultimately gets into the blood stream damaging the whole metabolism. The excess of bile is also reflected through color of the skin, eyes etc. The treatment of jaundice includes three main steps. First, checking production of bile; second, removal of excess bile from the body and third, fighting the viral infection. Dandelion is very helpful in all of these. It promotes liver health and regulates bile production. Being diuretic in nature, it promotes urination through which the excess bile is removed. Finally, being anti oxidant and disinfectant in nature due to presence of vitamin-C and Luteolin, it fights viral infection too. It is more beneficial if taken with sugarcane juice, since it replaces the sugar in the body which is very much lowered due to action of bile, causing extreme fatigue and weakness.
- Gall Bladder Disorders: Dandelion is very beneficial for gall bladder and liver, as it improves their functioning, protects them from ill effects of oxidants and infections and regulates secretions from them.
- Anemia: Dandelion has pretty good iron, vitamin and protein content. While iron is the integral part of hemoglobin in the blood, vitamins (particularly vitamin-B) and protein are essential for formation of red blood cells and certain other components of the blood. This way dandelion can help anemic people.
- High Blood Pressure: Urinating is an effective way of lowering blood pressure. In fact, most of the modern drugs for lowering blood pressure are based on this phenomenon. Dandelion juice, being diuretic in nature, increases urinating, both in quantity and frequency and thus helps lower high blood pressure. The fiber in dandelion is also helpful in reducing cholesterol and thereby assists lowering of blood pressure, since cholesterol is one of the factors which make blood pressure high. Then there ispotassium, which is in plenty in dandelion juice and is very effective in lowering blood pressure by replacing sodium.
- Other Benefits: Dandelion can also be used as a vegetable and is a good source of fiber. It promotes digestion. In old days it was also used to treat scurvy, due to presence of vitamin-C in it. It also has healing effects on dyspepsia, infections in the stomach, intestines and urinary system.
Generally people in Greece prepare horta with dandelions. Yes, it is the weed you remove or kill without any mercy in your gardens! Yet, they are amazingly nutritious. Dandelions are good for cleaning the intestines. It helps against polyps or intestine cancers. I found this site, which describes more details about the health benefits of eating dandelions.
Some people Greece go to get wild dandelions in the mountains, which have bigger leaves and more flavor than cultivated dandelions.
- 1 large bunch of horta/dandelions greens
- (optional) you may add spinach and/or arugula
- (optional) Spring Onions
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Gomasio topping
- 1. Wash & rinse the green vegetables very well. Cut into half
- 2. Steam or boil the vegetables 1/2 hour
- 3. Transfer to large bowl with a little juice from boiling, add 1/2 lemon juice and plenty of olive oil, top with Gomasio
Horta Tea: I personally boil the horta, because I save the horta water, add lemon juice & a little Greek Olive Oil on top to drink as a tonic tea… it’s a little bitter, but it’s so good for you and I have grown accustom to the taste.