While you may be used to thinking of dandelions as the bright yellow wildflowers that perpetually pop up in lawns and boulevards everywhere, these wondrous weeds have a long tradition of folk medicine use, especially in the form of dandelion root tea.
What Is Dandelion Root Tea?
Dandelion tea can be made from either an infusion of dandelion leaf or brewed with roasted dandelion root. Most of the research done on the dandelion plant (Taraxacum officinale) looks at the effectiveness of either both the types of tea or dandelion root tincture. Studies show dandelion greens and dandelion root can boost the health of the liver and urinary tract as well as provide numerous other benefits. Dandelion root is commonly available in powdered form, which you can then use to easily make your own dandelion tea at home.
7 Dandelion Tea Health Benefits
This time-tested traditional medicinal can improve your well-being in a whole host of ways. Check out these seven dandelion tea health benefits.
1. Supercharges Liver Function
Dandelion root, long known as a liver cleanser in several folk medicine traditions, can help to treat disorders like jaundice. Because of its ability to detoxify the liver, naturopaths find it can help with skin and eye problems too.
The findings of a 2017 study indicate that the polysaccharides found in dandelion can prevent damage to the liver. Plus, health care professionals have found dandelion tea can be a great accompaniment to antidepressant medications. It can protect the liver from the injury those medications can cause, as well as injury related to other medications, including painkillers like acetaminophen (brand name: Tylenol).
2. Boosts Energy Levels
Dandelion tea can be a fantastic coffee substitute. It has the dark brown color and rich flavor that coffee lovers adore, but with all the benefits you'd expect from a caffeine-free herbal tea. And according to a study published in 2012, dandelion can boost your energy levels as well as enhance the functioning of your immune system.
3. Fights Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Dandelion is a highly effective diuretic, meaning it increases the frequency of urination. This, in turn, flushes bacteria from the bladder, which can help clear up urinary tract infections.
When paired with uva ursi, another medicinal herb, dandelion can help to prevent urinary tract infections as well. Researchers believe this combination works because of dandelion’s diuretic properties and uva ursi’s antibacterial properties.
4. Speeds Up Fat Metabolism
Dandelion’s effects on the liver make it a potent natural weight-loss aid. It appears to increase your body’s rate of fat metabolism in two crucial ways. First, it stimulates the liver to produce more bile to send to the gallbladder, which increases the fat you burn. Second, it spurs gallbladder contractions, which releases stored bile and further increases your fat burn.
The results from one study indicate that dandelion extract mimics the effects of a weight-loss drug called Orlistat, which promotes weight loss by suppressing pancreatic lipase, an enzyme that helps break down fat during digestion. Dandelion appears to bring about the same results, and researchers recommend further investigation.
Dandelion also appears to have the capacity to reset the body’s hormone balance to decrease the amount of fat stored, raise the rate at which your body uses energy, and supercharge your metabolism.
5. Balances Blood Sugar
Dandelion offers up a substance called alpha-glucosidase, a natural compound that lowers blood sugar levels and has been used for years to treat diabetes. If you have diabetes and take medication to control it, you should consult a physician prior to trying dandelion root tea because it can have a significant impact.
6. Soothes Bloating and Other Digestive Issues
Dandelion root tea positively influences your digestive system in several ways. Herbal medicine traditions hold that it can improve appetite, quell digestive upset, and help to relieve constipation due to its detox effects and anti-inflammatory properties. And thanks to its proven diuretic effects, it can help flush excess water from your system, which helps to reduce bloating. It also contains a type of soluble fiber called inulin, which promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut.
7. Shows Anti-Cancer Potential
According to a 2011 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, dandelion root extract can cause cell death in melanoma cells while leaving healthy cells intact. An unrelated study showed it has the same effect on pancreatic cancer cells. While more research needs to be done on its cancer-fighting potential, the results so far have been quite promising.
Are There Dandelion Tea Side Effects?
Most people can drink dandelion tea with absolutely no side effects. Some, however, may have allergic reactions from touching or ingesting it, particularly if you have a ragweed or related plant allergy, such as to daisies, chrysanthemums, or marigolds. There’s also evidence that dandelion interacts with certain medications, including diuretics, Cipro, and lithium. If you’re currently taking any prescription drugs, you should speak with your doctor before you try dandelion root tea.
How to Make Dandelion Root Tea with Roots
Now that you’re sold on all the ways dandelion tea can improve your health, we have one last crucial fact to share with you: it’s incredibly easy to make. You can clean, roast, and grind the roots of dandelion plants you collect yourself or buy pre-made dandelion root powder. David Rakel, author of the book Integrative Medicine, provides the following advice on preparing dandelion root tea:
- Place between 0.5 and 2 teaspoons, or between 2 and 8 grams of organic dandelion root in your mug.
- Pour between 1/2 and 1 cup of hot water into your mug.
- Allow the preparation to steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Strain out the dandelion.
- Sip and enjoy!
If you're picking dandelions fresh, don't let any part go to waste. You can brew up some ice tea with dandelion flowers, stevia, and lemon to quench your thirst.
As for dandelion leaves, you can serve them up cooked like spinach or raw in salads, and feel great about the vitamins A, C, K, E, folate and other B vitamins they provide.