The clinical and medical potential of a plant known as dandelion has always been present, even from ancient times. This plant usually appears in the Northern hemisphere and has been grown and used for centuries in alternative medicine. Whether plucked and dried, or ground and used in food, drinks or medicine, the dandelion plant has always been helpful. Luckily, the potential of this plant is being rediscovered in the last few decades. Numerous studies and research have been conducted in regard to observing the plant and its health benefits and effects.
One of the best ways to consume dandelion is through tea, of course. This ancient way of herbal use has been occurring in Europe and Asia mostly, but nowadays it is present in North America and other parts of the world. People are embracing dandelion as a natural immune booster, diuretic, and common illness treatment, just like it has been done hundreds of years ago. Therefore, in the following paragraphs we are going to explore what the actual benefits of dandelion tea really are; what is this plant and how does it affect our health? Let’s find out!
Chemical Composition and Pharmacology
In order to understand the effects and benefits of dandelion tea, it is important to look at the plant itself. The chemical composition of the plant is outstanding; some of the main and most important compounds found in this plant are actually the so-called ‘bitter elements’, taraxicin and taraxacerin. Studies conducted in the 1990s have shown that these elements are actually anti-inflammatory and have anti-cancer effects.
Other important compounds include;
- Sterols (free sterols like sitosterin, stigmasterin, and phytosterin) – also known as plant sterols and stanols, these are cholesterol-like compounds recognized to inhibit cholesterol absorption. In liquid formats, like dandelion tea, these have been proven to be considerably more effective in comparison to solid food consumption.
- Beta-amyrin – these natural chemical compounds are usually extracted from plants like dandelion. They are most effective when extracted from the root, which is also known as ‘dandelion coffee’. Nevertheless, in the tea itself, they are widely distributed and contribute to a healthy sensory nervous system, as well as help fight off any inflammations.
- Taraxasterol – a chemical compound found in dandelion; it possesses anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties. Taraxasterol has also been recognized to have anti-microbial and anti-snake venom properties.
- Other compounds include smaller amounts of pectin, flavonoid glycosides and acids like chlorogenic acids. All of these compounds contribute to lowering cholesterol, preventing certain types of cancer, preventing inflammations, viral or bacterial infections and diabetes.
- Also, the plant is incredibly rich in compounds like Vitamin A, C, D, B-complex vitamins, iron, magnesium, sodium, potassium, copper, zinc, manganese, and choline.
Dandelion leaf and root have been studied for years now, mostly because of such an impressive list of chemical compounds and composition. Usually, the studies on this extraordinary plant have been focused on its health effects in regards to different immune-affecting diseases, cancer, digestion issues, and inflammations. Nowadays, the plant is furthermore studied as a diuretic, inflammation modulator, anti-diabetic drug, and cancer-cells reducer. The studies usually focus on the consumption of the dandelion leaf in the form of tea, as well as the consumption of the root.
Dandelion Tea Health Benefits
When infused in hot water, the dandelion leaf, or root, tend to release all of its antioxidant properties as well as the aforementioned chemicals. Both infusions, regardless of whether with leaf or root, are very effective in providing their exceptional qualities. For example, the Chinese tend to boil the leaves, with the roasted root and used them to heal stomach problems or appendicitis. Early Europeans (and nowadays Eastern Europeans primarily), used dandelion leaves to battle high fever, diarrhea, and diabetes. Therefore, here are several ways the tea can benefit you and your health in the modern-day
1. Type 2 Diabetes
Studies have shown that dandelion leaves and root can be used as an anti-diabetic herb in Type 2 diabetic patients. One study, in particular, followed the effects of the plant on diabetic patients; three groups of diabetic patients have been receiving a dosage of 5g of dandelion for 9 days, which amounts to 45g in total. The results have shown that in those 9 days the blood glucose levels have reduced from 10.7 mmol/L to 7.5 mmol/L for Type 2 diabetic patients.
The action mechanisms of dandelion in Type 2 diabetic patients are ascribed to the interaction of different factors involved in the metabolic syndrome (lipid-glucose-protein metabolism). The compounds within the plant are responsible for the inhibition of glucose reabsorption, reduction of dietary blood sugar and the inhibition of potassium channel flow. When it comes to diabetes, insulin regulation is extremely important, and dandelion tea (ground leaves and root) seems to be doing wonders. That is why traditional medicinal plants like dandelion are being increasingly included in the treatment and management of diabetes, especially Type 2.
Dandelion tea has been studied for its effects on digestion. The studies have been focused primarily on the tea as a bitter digestive stimulant, as well as probiotic, diuretic and inflammation modulators. The results of the studies have shown that dandelion leaves and root are high in probiotic properties due to inulin – a compound which increases fullness, removes cholesterol and increases the number of good bacteria in the gut. In turn, these bacteria prevent infection, stimulate bowel movements and improve one’s immune system.
Both, leaves and root have always been considered as a gastrointestinal remedy. That is why the majority of gastrointestinal-related medicine nowadays contains dandelion (leaves and root) powder. The medicine has proven to be more efficient in supporting digestion, liver and kidney function, as well as in being a great digestive stimulant, all thanks to the miraculous dandelion. However, in order to achieve these effects, one can simply drink dandelion tea quite regularly. This way the gut bacteria and overall digestive process will remain up and running.
Recent studies have shown that dandelion tea is extremely effective in preventing cancer, as well as in killing cancer cells. Its leaves, especially root extract are not only effective in fighting off cancer, but also in providing an outstanding effect in leukemia, tumor and pancreatic cancer patients. These forms of cancer are extremely hard to fight, and are often causes of death; however, the plant and its infusion seem to provide excellent results in patients who are fighting such diseases.
This is the reason that nowadays cancer patients are advised to use natural remedies alongside their conventional chemotherapies. Dandelion tea and its effects do not interfere with regular cancer treatment. Moreover, it actually promotes better outcomes of the treatment by killing off cancer cells and boosting the immune system. Nevertheless, the anti-cancer properties of the tea are yet to be officially tested and proven, but the potential and positive results are there.
When it comes to immunosuppressive diseases, like HIV, life-threatening infections are inevitable. The treatment for HIV is still in development and even the medicine that is available on the market is not available in developing countries due to high cost. Luckily, dandelion leaves and root extract have proven effective in activity against HIV and similar immunodeficiency syndromes. A study has shown that dandelion extract has potent inhibitory activity against HIV.
However, it is yet to be determined which exact compounds found in dandelion provide such results. It is definitely rich in phenolic compounds, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid and other, therefore, the components still need to be isolated and individually tested against HIV. This step is still in progress, but the potential for a breakthrough discovery is definitely not lacking.
5. Other Health Benefits
Dandelion tea has proven effective in providing benefits for other medical and health issue, like;
- Weight loss – a recent study conducted by the Korean Biohealth Research Center has shown that dandelion tea, as well as leaves and root extract, are as effective in supporting weight loss as weight loss drugs are. It inhibits the release of an enzyme responsible for breaking down fat. Moreover, it promotes the fat to pass through the digestive system without breaking down.
More: Best Slim Teas
- Bone Health – because dandelion is high in all sorts of vitamins, like Vitamin K for example, it is exceptionally good for bone health. Vitamin K, in particular, supports bone strength through mineral properties. The tea itself helps prevent bone fracture by increasing bone mineral density.
- Urinary Tract Infections – UTIs are extremely annoying; thankfully, dandelion tea has proven effective in preventing and dealing with these infections. The tea helps the body get rid of all the toxins and wastes caused by a bacterial infection. It also acts anti-inflammatory and increases the production of urine. It is recommended to consume in combination with bearberry for the ultimate effect.
Other benefits you can check this video
Dandelion tea is a miraculous drink, and the plant itself is a miraculous plant. It is high in antioxidants, vitamins, and so many other helpful components and properties. Unfortunately, its benefits and health effects are yet to be officially tested and studied. The majority of the current studies are not large-scale, and still, need to be confirmed in human studies. Nevertheless, there is proof that the benefits of dandelion as a plant and as a beverage are countless.
There is a reason this plant has been used for hundreds, if not thousands of years for medicinal purposes. So, make sure to purchase your dandelion tea today; it is usually available in health food stores, sometimes even in teashops or online. Either way, if there is a way to do something good for yourself and your health, then dandelion tea might be the right one.