The health benefits of dandelion

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Overview

Even though many people believe that dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a weed with no use, experts believe that it is a valuable plant that can be used both as food and as medicine.

Dandelion is a rich source of vitamin A, C, D, B vitamins and minerals such as iron, potassium and zinc. Dandelion leaves are used in salads, sandwiches and tea to give flavor.

The roots are used as coffee substitutes, and the flowers can be used to produce wine. Traditionally, dandelion roots and leaves were used to treat liver problems.

Many people treat certain kidney diseases, inflammation, skin disorders, heartburn and diarrhea, using infusion of dandelion tea.


Contents

1. Overview
2. Dandelion in traditional Chinese medicine
3. Parts used in medicine
4. Medicinal uses and indications
5. Other uses
6. Precautions
7. Side effects


Dandelion in traditional Chinese medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine, dandelion is an adjunct to cure stomach problems, appendicitis and some of the manifestations of the breast, such as inflammation or lack of milk flow.

The plant is used to relieve fever, furuncles, eye problems, diabetes and diarrhea.

Until now, there have been no good quality scientific studies to look at the importance of dandelion. Plant roots are mainly used as appetite stimulant for liver and gallbladder problems. Dandelion leaves are used as a diuretic to help the body eliminate excess fluid.


Parts used in medicine

Dandelion leaves act as diuretic, increasing the amount of urine produced by the body. The leaves are used to stimulate appetite and digestion.

Dandelion flowers have antioxidant properties and may help strengthen the immune system. Some experts recommend dandelion to detoxify the liver and gallbladder, dandelion having an adjuvant role of renal function.


Medicinal uses and indications

Traditionally, dandelion has been used as a diuretic and also for medical problems such as liver or blood pressure imbalances. Freshly picked dandelion or dry form, is used as an appetite stimulant and to relieve diarrhea.

Dandelion root can act as a mild laxative and is used to improve digestion. Some preliminary research suggests that dandelion can help improve liver and gallbladder function.

Laboratory studies on mice suggest that dandelion helps normalize blood sugar levels and reduce total cholesterol and triglycerides, increasing good cholesterol levels in mice with diabetes mellitus.

Not all animal studies resulted in a positive effect of dandelion on blood sugar control. Extensive studies are needed to confirm these benefits in humans.


Other uses

When dandelion leaves and flowers are placed in a paper bag with unripe fruits, they releases ethylene gas which helps other fruit maturation. From leaves and roots you can also obtain a natural liquid.

A cosmetic skin lotion is obtained by distilling the leaves of dandelion in water and is used to cleanse the skin and is effective in removing freckles.

Use

- For children – Ask your doctor before you give supplements containing dandelion to a child, because the doctor can inform you which is the optimal doses for children. Eating dandelion (in any form) in food is considered safe even for children.

- For adults – See your doctor to help you determine the right dose for you. Some traditional dosages include:

> Infusion of dried leaves: 1-2 tablespoons, 3 times a day. Pour boiling water over the dried leaves of dandelion, which sank in hot water for 5-10 minutes. Drink as directed determined by your doctor.
> Dried root decoction: 1-2 tablespoons, 3 times a day. Add dandelion root in boiling water and let them boil for 5-10 minutes. Strain and drink in the quantities indicated by the doctor.


Precautions

Using plants is a long-term approach in order to strengthen the body and to treat diseases. Medicinal plants, even if they are beneficial in most cases, may contain components that can trigger side effects or interact negatively with other herbs, supplements or medicines.

You should take care when using herbs; this must be done under the guide of a health care specialist.

Dandelion is generally considered to be safe for consumption, but some people may develop an allergic reaction when they touch the dandelion leaves / flowers / root or oral lesions after use. If you are allergic to Ambrose, chrysanthemum, marigold, chamomile, yarrow, daisies, or iodine should avoid eating dandelion.

In some people, dandelion can cause gastric acidity and heartburn. People with kidney troubles, bladder dysfunction or gallstones should seek the opinion of a specialist before starting to eat dandelion or dandelion-based products.


Side effects

Dandelion leaves act as a diuretic and can accelerate the elimination of drugs from your body, so if you are currently being treated with any of these medications, specialist advice is essential.

- Antacids – Dandelion may increase the amount of acid in the stomach, so antacids may not interact with dandelion.
- Anticoagulants – In theory, dandelion may increase the risk of bleeding, especially when using a drug that dilutes the blood such as aspirin.
- Diuretics (water pills) – Dandelion can act as a diuretic, increasing the amount of urine to help the body eliminate excess fluid. If you use prescription medicine diuretics or other plants which in turn can act as a diuretic, there is a risk of suffering an electrolyte imbalance.
- Lithium – Animal studies suggest that dandelion may increase the side effects of lithium use.
- Ciprofloxacin – A species of dandelion, Taraxacum mongolicum, also called Chinese dandelion may reduce the absorption of ciprofloxacin, antibiotic found in the digestive tract. Researchers have not determined yet if any species of dandelion has the same interaction with this drug.
- Medicines to treat diabetes – In theory, dandelion may reduce blood sugar levels. But if you take drugs against diabetes, dandelion may actually increase blood sugar levels.

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