Whether you’ve recently made a wish and blown their seeds into the wind or spent a weekend battling their invasion of your lawn, you’re bound to have come across a dandelion (officially called taraxacum). Hundreds of species of the prolific weed dot the landscapes of North America, Europe, and Asia with sunny yellow florets and downy, cotton-topped seed heads.
Despite the plant’s prevalence, many people don’t know what a nutritional powerhouse it is. Dandelions are jam-packed with vitamins and minerals. Humans have foraged for dandelions since our hunter-gatherer days. This useful plant is edible, and one way to extract its benefits is to drink it as dandelion tea.
Here’s a rundown of what dandelion tea can do for you. Some benefits come specifically from the root or the leaf of the plant, so be sure to purchase (or make) a tea that matches up with what you’re looking for.
Encourages Weight Loss
It’s surprising but true—dandelion tea can help you lose weight. A study published in Nutrition Research and Practice examined dandelion tea as an alternative to the weight loss drug Orlistat. (The drug has some undesirable digestive side effects that dandelion does not share.) Researchers determined that dandelion had a similar biological effect to Orlistat and recommended further study. Just two cups of dandelion tea can kick off the process by beginning to flush away the water weight that causes bloating.
Detoxifies the Liver
While companies claim that countless substances and supplements can detox the body, dandelion has the research to back it up. A study from the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology reported dandelion tea was associated with a substantial increase in numbers of a detoxifying enzyme—evidence that dandelion effectively aids in detoxification.
Promotes Balance for People With Diabetes
Studies on animals have indicated that dandelion can lower levels of blood sugar. Scientists say studies on humans are needed, but Europe has a history of dandelion as a folk medicine method to help in diabetes treatment.
Offers a Healthy Alternative to Coffee
Whether you’re reducing caffeine intake or want to switch to dandelion tea for its many health advantages, dandelion makes a tasty replacement for your morning cup of joe. For dandelion coffee, you’ll take a slightly different approach than the tea we describe at the end of this article. Dandelion “coffee” is actually a tea made of the roasted roots of the plant instead of the flowers or leaves. You can buy the floral coffee at natural food stores, often blended with other herbs such as chicory, or order some dandelion coffee online.
Helps With All Kinds of Tummy Trouble
One of the first maladies humans used dandelion to treat was stomach upset. Traditionally, dandelion has broad application as an aid to the digestive system. It’s said to encourage a healthy appetite, relieve constipation, and settle a queasy stomach.
Has Potential as a Cancer Treatment
While nothing’s certain yet, experts are excited about the possibility of using dandelion to fight cancer. Research on the impact of dandelion root extract on both melanoma and pancreatic cancer found that dandelion caused death of cancerous cells while leaving the healthy cells around them untouched.
It’s Full of Stuff That’s Good for You
On top of the benefits we’ve already discussed, dandelion tea is chock-full of valuable vitamins and nutrients. Dandelion provides a good dose of vitamins A, B, C, and D, as well as boosting your levels of calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc. The roasted roots used in dandelion coffee contain beneficial probiotics and antioxidants. In short, the plant is a nutritionist’s dream.
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Of course, boxed dandelion tea is available in grocery and health food stores. However, if your yard is full of the flowers, you can make a batch yourself for free.
- Gather 20 dandelion flowers, and separate the petals from the green parts of the plant by pinching them off at the base of the blossom.
- Place the petals into a one-liter canning jar or sun tea container and add as much sugar as you’d like.
- Cover with one cup of boiling water and allow the mixture to steep until it cools to room temperature.
- Refrigerate until the flowers sink to the bottom of the container.
- Strain the concentrated tea into another container, and discard the flowers.
- Return the dandelion tea concentrate to the jar, and cover with cold water to complete the liter.
Whether you choose the convenience of prepackaged dandelion tea or opt for the DIY approach and make your own, you’re sure to start feeling the difference in your health. Before beginning any new dietary supplement, talk with your doctor to be sure it won’t interact with any of your other medications or conditions. Your doctor can also help you determine the dandelion dosage routine that’s best for you.
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