Their slender, spiky green leaves and cheery yellow heads pop up in lawns every spring.
For perfect-turf loving homeowners, the dandelion is an evil weed to be eradicated by any means possible.
For those in the know, this humble “weed” is actually a valued medicinal herb with centuries of use all over the world.
Dandelion Greens Nutrition
The leaves of this nutrient rich plant put it in the top 4 of all green vegetables. A cup of cooked dandelion greens delivers:
|Calcium||147 mg (10% DV)*|
|Iron||1.7 mg (9% DV)*|
|Potassium||244 mg (6% DV)*|
|Vitamin K||203 mg (535% DV*!!)|
|Vitamin A||5588 IU (112% DV* – 3rd richest source of all foods, after cod liver oil and bee liver)|
|Vitamin C||19.3 mg (32% DV*)|
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Dandelion greens are also the #1 source of beta-carotene of all green vegetables.
Detox Your Liver
While the vitamins in dandelion greens are beneficial, its ability to detoxify the liver makes it a star. With all of the pollutants, chemicals and medications that we inhale or ingest, our livers are working overtime.
Supporting your liver with dandelion can help it do its job better. A strong liver that functions well is critical to your health.
Dandelion has been used in many cultures as a digestive aid. Modern research supports this use.
Some of the dandelion’s bitterness is caused by the glycocide taraxin. This plant chemical is thought to stimulate the digestive organs to release bile.
Bile aids digestion and absorption of fats, which may explain why it helps with indigestion and heartburn. Increased bile flow also helps bowels move more easily, helping relieve constipation.
Dandelion root contains the soluble fiber inulin, which has a positive effect on blood sugar levels. It also contains some pectin, known to lower cholesterol. If you are diabetic or prediabetic, you may benefit from consuming dandelion root.
PMS and Hormone Support
Do you deal with bloat and water retention before and during your period? Dandelion is a natural diuretic that does not cause loss of potassium. Dandelion is also a go-to herb for PMS hormone support. It contains taraxerol and taraxasterol, two hormone-balancing compounds.
Relief of your PMS symptoms can be as easy as adding dandelion greens to your diet.
Because dandelion leaf extract is a potent, natural diuretic, it can help reduce high blood pressure.
Dandelion and Cancer Research
Phase I clinical trials of dandelion root extract (DRE) are currently underway at the Dandelion Root Project in Canada for drug refractory blood cancers.
In the lab, DRE has demonstrated effectiveness against a variety of cancers such as human T cell leukemia, chronic myelomonocytic leukemia, and pancreatic and colon cancers. Efficacy against human colon cancer cells has been confirmed in mice. It will be exciting to see the results of the human trials.
DRE destroys cancer cells without damaging non-cancer cells. How the active compounds in dandelion root extract know the difference is also being studied.
The nutrition and health benefits of this common “yard weed” are both humbling and exciting. It’s a good reminder that the creation we often stroll past without noticing (or try to obliterate) often has massive value.
While I may pull some of the dandelions from my front yard to respect the preferences of my neighbors, I give the dandelion a large section of the back garden to thrive. I harvest the tender leaves early in the morning, and enjoy them in salads, sautés and fresh juices. And when I drive past a field carpeted with those sunny yellow blooms, I stop and admire.
NOTE – If you are allergic to ragweed, dandelion may trigger an allergic reaction. Dandelion should not be combined with certain antibiotics and lithium.