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What Is Dandelion?
Dandelions, also known as Taraxacum officinale, are a type of flowering plant native to Europe, Asia and North America.
As a member of the daisy family of plants, dandelions are related to dahlias, thistle, ragweed, lettuce, artichokes and sunflowers.
Dandelions produce many small yellow flowers, called florets, which collectively form one flower head. Once it has finished flowering, the flower head dries out, the florets drop off and a seed head is formed. The seeds are then dispersed by the wind … or those looking to get a free wish.
Although dandelion is often overlooked as just a pesky weed, it can actually be a useful addition to both your kitchen and your medicine cabinet. Both the root and greens are packed with health-promoting properties and can be used to make everything from dandelion tea to super-nutritious salads.
Dandelion Root Benefits
1. May Kill Cancer Cells
Interestingly enough, several studies show dandelion root may be useful in the prevention and treatment of cancer.
A 2011 study out the University of Windsor in Canada treated skin cancer cells with dandelion root extract and found that it started killing off cancer cells within just 48 hours of treatment. Another study in Oncotarget showed that dandelion root extract was able to kill 95 percent of colon cancer cells within two days. (2)
Other research has shown that dandelion root may aid in the treatment of leukemia, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer.
2. Reduces Cholesterol
High cholesterol is one of the major contributors to coronary heart disease. This waxy substance can build up in the blood vessels, causing arteries to become hardened and narrow and making it harder for blood to flow through.
Changing your diet is one of the easiest ways to prevent high cholesterol. Along with limiting your intake of ultra-processed foods, including more whole foods like fruits and vegetables can help lower cholesterol.
Dandelion root has also been shown to reduce cholesterol levels. In one study, rabbits were fed a high-cholesterol diet and supplemented with dandelion root. Dandelion led to a reduction in total cholesterol, triglycerides and bad LDL cholesterol as well as an increase in beneficial HDL cholesterol.
When combined with regular physical activity and a healthy diet, including a serving of dandelion root in your day could help keep your heart healthy and ward off heart disease.
3. Rich in Antioxidants
Free radicals are compounds that form in your body as a result of things like stress, pollution and a poor diet. Over time, the accumulation of free radicals can lead to cell damage and chronic disease. Antioxidants can help neutralize free radicals and have been shown to reduce the risk of conditions like heart disease and cancer.
Studies show that dandelion root is especially high in antioxidants, which may account for its many potent health benefits.
4. Supports Liver Health
From filtering toxins to metabolizing drugs, the liver is essential to many aspects of health. Dandelion root benefits your liver, helping protect it and keep it working effectively.
One study by the Department of Food and Nutrition at Chonnam National University in the Republic of Korea showed that dandelion root extract prevented damage to the liver caused by alcohol toxicity in both liver cells and mice.
These protective effects are likely due to the amount of antioxidants found in dandelion root as well as its ability to prevent damage caused by free radicals.
5. Fights Bacteria
In addition to its many other health benefits, dandelion root also possesses antimicrobial properties that can help stop the growth of disease-causing bacteria. A study in Ireland published in Phytotherapy Research showed that dandelion root was especially effective against certain strains of bacteria that are responsible for staph infections and foodborne illness.
Although more research is needed, dandelion root may be a useful natural method for fighting off bacterial infections.