Most people think of Dandelions as just a pesky and annoying pain in the butt weed that covers their lawns but there are more to Dandelions that could really benefit your health in a bit way. For example, did you know that this beautiful “weed” from nature can actually help protect us from osteoporosis, Alzheimers, diabetes and even cancer? Records of dandelion’s use in herbal medicine date back as far as the 10th century. It’s been used to improve bladder and urinary tract health, as well as support our liver health. The dandelion has also been used to treat hepatitis, gallstones and jaundice.
There is also great excitement about dandelion’s ability to help fight cancer. Canadian scientists found that cancer cells died off after just 48 hours of exposure to dandelion extract. The effect held even for cancer cells that had been found resistant to chemotherapy. This research was published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Another study on dandelions and cancer published in International Journal of Oncology found that dandelion tea was effective against breast cancer and prostate cancer. The compounds in dandelion extracts seem to cause apoptosis, or cancer cell death. In other words, the diseased cells essentially commit suicide. (By the way, dandelion extracts tend to target the cancer cells only – leaving healthy cells intact)
Here are 10 Dandelion Health Benefits
- Protects Bones
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and dandelions contain 10 percent of your daily value. Calcium is stored in the structure of the bones and teeth. It’s used for nerve transmission, blood clotting, hormone secretion and muscle contraction. By drinking dandelion tea or eating the greens, you can easily avoid tooth decay, muscle tension and high blood pressure and calcium deficiency.
- High in Vitamin K
Vitamin K is an essential fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in bone and heart health, and can you believe that dandelions contain over 500 percent of your daily value? That makes dandelions excellent at preventing vitamin k deficiency. Vitamin K is the main vitamin involved in bone mineralization and blood clotting — in fact, vitamin K builds bones better than calcium! And it helps maintain brain function and a healthy metabolism. There is increasing evidence that vitamin K can improve bone health and reduce the risk of bone fractures, especially in postmenopausal women who are at risk for osteoporosis.
Vitamin K also helps with menstrual bleeding because of its blood-clotting capabilities. Recently, it has caught attention for its cancer-fighting properties too. Vitamin K has been shown to be effective as a natural cancer treatment, including reducing the risk of prostate, colon, stomach, nasal and oral cancers. One study conducted in 2014, published in the Journal of Nutrition, that included over 7,000 participants found that vitamin K has the power to significantly reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular mortality.
- Cleanses Liver
The role of our liver is to produce bile, which helps enzymes in the body break down fats into fatty acids — and to filter and detoxify our blood. The liver also has the amazing ability to break down and store amino acids, synthesize and metabolize fats and cholesterol, store glucose, and regulate our internal functions. The vitamins and nutrients present in dandelions help cleanse our livers and keep them working properly. Dandelions aid our digestive system by maintaining the proper flow of bile. Dandelion tea or stems are also good vitamin C foods, which helps with mineral absorption, reduces inflammation and prevents the development of disease.
- Fights Diabetes
Dandelion tea and juice help people with diabetes by stimulating the production of insulin from the pancreas and keeping blood sugar levels low. If our pancreas doesn’t produce proper amounts of insulin, or if our cells can’t properly process insulin, it results in diabetes. Because the glucose isn’t properly utilized, it accumulates in the bloodstream and results in high blood glucose or sugar levels. To fight diabetes naturally, dandelion tea also helps the body remove excess sugar that’s stored in the body — because it’s a diuretic.
- Fights Skin Infections
The milky white substance that you get on your fingers when you break a dandelion stem is actually great for your skin! The sap of a dandelion stem is highly alkaline, and it has germicidal, insecticidal and fungicidal properties. You can also use the sap to relieve itching or irritation from eczema, ringworm, psoriasis and other skin infections.
- High in Antioxidants
Another important dandelion benefit is its high antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are substances that help prevent certain types of cell damage, especially those caused by oxidation. The body uses antioxidants to fight free radical damage, which is very dangerous for the body’s tissues and is connected to cancer and premature aging. Luckily, drinking dandelion tea helps the body avoid cell damage from free radicals. In fact, a study conducted in 2011 by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Windsor in Canada found that dandelion root extract was effective in killing different cancers as a result of its free radical-fighting abilities.
- Rich in Fiber
Dandelion tea and greens are high-fiber foods, making them a beneficial aid for digestion and intestinal health. Fiber is responsible for quickly moving foods through the digestive tract, helping it function optimally. Fiber works by drawing fluids from the body to add bulk to the stool. High-fiber diets also reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes; fiber has the power to lower the risk of some cancers’ help with diverticulosis; and prevent heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, kidney stones and obesity. Some studies show that women with PMS or those who are menopausal can experience some relief from symptoms with high-fiber diets.
- Good Source of Vitamin A
Vitamin A plays a critical role in maintaining healthy vision, neurological function, healthy skin and more. Vitamin A is an antioxidant, so it has the power to reduce inflammation by fighting free radical damage. Just one cup of dandelion greens has over 100 percent of the daily value of vitamin A, so you can fight premature aging, respiratory infections and vision impairment with just a mug of dandelion tea. Vitamin A also provides immune support, promotes skin health and helps prevent cancer. For women who are pregnant, getting enough vitamin A is very important, especially during the third trimester. A pregnant woman can even suffer from night blindness if her vitamin A intake isn’t sufficient.
- Serves as Diuretic
Dandelion root has a natural diuretic effect, allowing your liver to more quickly eliminate toxins. It also helps strengthen the immune system, balance blood sugar levels, relieve heartburn and soothe digestive issues. Because dandelion helps reduce uric acid and stimulates urine production, it’s beneficial for fighting bacterial infections within the digestive tract and reproductive organs.
- Prevents Urinary Tract Infections
Dandelion tea can help prevent urinary tract infections, as well as bladder disorders, kidney problems and possibly even cysts on reproductive organs. A specific combination of dandelion root and leaf extracts of another herb called uva ursi taken by mouth helps reduce the number of UTIs in women. In this combination, uva ursi is used because it kills bacteria, and dandelion is used because of its ability to increase urine flow and fight infection.
Keep in mind, when harvesting for dandelion root, larger is better. Picking them after a good soaking allows the root to come out of the soil easier. Of course, organic dandelion products can be purchased ready-made in the form of teas, tinctures and supplements. Generally speaking, the ideal dosage for liver health and other dandelion benefits is between 500 and 2,000 mg daily.
PS – Don’t forget, dandelions are great for the bees because dandelions are one of the bees’ first spring food sources!! PLEASE – no Roundup!!!!
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