The Dandelion, health, nutrition and tea
The Dandelion health, nutrition, and tea. The humble Dandelion is considered a ‘weed’ in many parts of the world. It is, in fact, a beneficial little flower. In this article, we will discuss the Dandelions’ many uses and why it was once grown as a source of nutrition & medicine.
The Dandelion is a plant native to Europe, Asia and North America (anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere). You can find dandelions nearly all year round, apart from in the depths of winter. The most common dandelion Latin name is Taraxacum Officinale. However other varieties do exist, but this is the one you will come across the most when you are out and about.
The Dandelion is an edible plant that humans have used for a long time for a food source and even medicine. The idea that this simple weed could be medically viable was once considered ‘poppycock’ by contemporary scientists – but this is changing. The plant has been studied further in recent years, unlocking its potential.
Dandelion tea is prevalent everywhere. It grows from North America to Asia & Europe, where it is considered an excellent herbal remedy. You can use Dandelion to:
- Help treat the common cold
- Detox your body of free radicals
- Treat UTIs (Urinary Tract infections)
- Treat inflammation
You can make dandelion tea with the leaves, flowers or roots. The parts are dried and used in a tea strainer with hot water. Roasting the roots will make a caffeine-free coffee-like substitute, the most common hot drink made from the dandelion plant. The roots are roasted and then added to hot water, ground or whole.
What does dandelion tea taste like?
The taste of the dandelion tea depends on which parts you are making it from, as each part has its characteristics and flavours. Some people make tea with individual parts of a dandelion’s anatomy, or you can make tea with the whole plant.
Dandelion root tea (Dandelion Coffee) is a solid drink that tastes earthy, toasty and bitter, much like coffee, hence its nickname ‘dandelion coffee’.
Tea made from dandelion leaves tastes earthy and leafy, favours being sweetenned with citrus or other teas.
You can also use the dandelion flower to make tea which has a sweet & delicate flowery taste. It is second in popularity to dandelion root coffee, but both are full of natural benefits.
Dandelion health benefits
There are multiple health benefits to introducing dandelions into your diet – they are good for you and taste great both in salads and in teas. We will review some of the health benefits and how to get them.
Dandelion root tea is the most popular brew to make from dandelions. It is the most full of flavour and beneficial as it contains potassium. Its most active ingredient, though, is taraxacum, the compound that gives dandelion coffee its bitter flavour. Taraxacin excites the gallbladder causing it to contract, which increases bile flow – cleaning out the liver and gallbladder.
The Dandelion is also rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, E, and K, all beneficial to the human body. Dandelions are also rich in minerals such as calcium, sodium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and selenium, and Inulin, a prebiotic fibre that nourishes the bacterial flora and improves intestinal transit.
Other active ingredients include:
- Alpha and beta carotene
- Caffeic & coumaric acid
Flavonoids and potassium in dandelion tea have a draining action in the kidney and stimulate the production of urine and the drainage of excess fluids, which is good for the body.
*Note – There are some medical conditions where drinking dandelion tea is not recommended; if you have any medical condition, check before consuming dandelions.
Dandelion Root tea
There are multiple benefits to drinking Dandelion root tea, mainly due to the most crucial active ingredient is taraxacum. Taraxacum is the bitter compound that stimulates the gallbladder, which increases bile flow, helping to detoxify the liver.
This secretory action is not limited to only bile but also stimulates the secretions of all the glands of the human gastrointestinal system. These systems include your saliva, gastric, pancreatic & intestinal juices. Taraxacin also stimulates the digestive system’s muscles, slightly promoting the secondary laxative action.
If you want to know how to make Dandelion root tea, please see our guide here.
Does Dandelion root tea contain caffeine?
No, Dandelion coffee does not contain caffeine. It does contain an array of vitamins and minerals that boost your health. Whether or not you can physically feel this is yet to be researched by science.
Dandelion Leaf tea
Dandelion leaves are known to help with kidney function and help with water retention. They are also known as being an aid for digestion. Dandelion leaves also make great additions to salads along with the flower.
Are Dandelions good for you?
Yes, dandelions are very good for you, provided you are not allergic to them. The leaves make great additions to salads along with the flowers & the roots can be used to make dandelion root tea, as we discussed earlier. All of these contain vitamins and minerals the body uses to maintain itself.
There are some medical conditions where taking dandelions may not be recommended as they can harm some medications & medical conditions.
What does Dandelion do to your body?
Dandelions, when eaten regularly as part of a balanced diet, will have some effects on your body due to their full content of vitamins and minerals. It is also jam-packed with various antioxidants, which help remove free radicals from the body, lowering the risk of chronic illness and disease.
Like anything medical, though, if you have any health-related issues, you should consult your doctor before eating dandelions regularly. Due to its potency, it could have adverse effects on people with specific health issues.
With regular consumption, your body will experience
- A lower blood pressure
- Anti-inflammatory effects
- Improved liver function
- Improved immune responses
As an excellent source of Vitamin A, dandelions have also shown that they may lower the risk of conditions like cataracts, diarrhoea, measles, and breast cancer. They are also a great vitamin C source, building a robust immune system.
Is Dandelion poisonous to humans?
No, dandelions are safe for humans to consume as a drink and as part of a balanced diet. Dandelions are even ok for cats and dogs – Good luck getting them to eat a dandelion!
What can Dandelion cure?
As we have discussed, there are numerous health benefits to eating dandelions in salads or drinking dandelion root tea. The health benefits are due to the high content of vitamins like A and C and minerals like potassium.
The Dandelion’s ability to help with medical conditions like gastric issues, diarrhoea, and even diabetes is well known. From the ancients to modern day society across most parts of the world, the Dandelion has been used for centuries, if not longer.
The main health issues dandelions have been used to help with are:
- Gastric issues
- Breast problems (lack of milk/inflammation)
- Eye problems
- Supports the production of bile
- Supports the liver
- Detoxes the body
- Weight loss
Are dandelions edible?
Yes, you can eat dandelions – you can eat the whole plant, and it’s all nutritious. Dandelions were once used for medicine and food worldwide and, therefore, farmed for their flowers, leaves and roots. You can use leaves & flowers in a salad. You can use the roots like carrots or potatoes when cooking recipes. They are nutritious, prolific, and easy to grow, with fields being taken over quite easily by a crop of dandelions with little human intervention.
Do bees like Dandelions?
Yes! Bees love dandelions, which is an even more important reason to let them grow other than for our consumption. What makes the Dandelion even more critical to bees is that it is their only source of food and pollen at certain times of the year. It is also usually the first food source available in early spring. Each Dandelion can contain over 100 little flowers, each containing a meal for the bees & other excellent pollinators. It is important to note that dandelions need to be more nutritious to sustain bees alone.
Dandelion seeds are what people sometimes refer to as dandelion fairies. When a dandelion goes into seed, it becomes a giant ball of fluff; when the wind catches this, the seeds are dislodged and carried with the breeze. As a kid, you will likely have spent many hours blowing dandelion seeds everywhere in places where dandelions grow. They do indeed resemble a fairy-like image when being blown through the air.