Dandelions are among the most easily recognized plants. Their vibrant yellow petals shimmer among the fronds of grass and their round seed pods are the stuff of dreams and wishes. They're also notorious as pesky weeds that can invade even the most manicured gardens.
Fortunately, you can use those vibrant yellow petals and hardy roots to brew delicious, healthy teas. Discover what dandelion root tea has to offer with this handy guide to health benefits, flavor, and side effects.
Dandelion root tea is made from the roots of the dandelion plant known by the botanical name Taraxacum officinale. The plant is native to Europe and the western portion of the Asian continent. Today, these plants can be found all over the globe. Often considered pesky weeds because of their hardy nature and their potent seeds, this vibrant yellow plant actually brews into a healthy tea.
Dandelion tea can also be made using the dandelion leaves and dandelion flowers. This herbal tea is also called "dent de lion", which translates to the lion's tooth in French. The name is a direct reference to the characteristic jagged dandelion greens of the plant. In Persia, it's also known as "the small postman" because dandelions deliver good news according to local culture.
Dandelion root tea, or dandelion coffee, is a common coffee substitute as it looks similar to coffee and features many of the same flavors. The roasted dandelion root imparts a coffee flavor that is less bitter and acidic. The flavor profile is rich with toasted flavors including hints of nut and sweet, salty, and sour notes.
Dandelion root tea may help you stay healthy and fight off infections such as the common cold and flu. One study found that dandelion extract profoundly increased red and white blood cell counts (1). Researchers believe that drinking dandelion tea can help boost the body's natural defenses to improve immune health.
Additional research shows that dandelions contain vitamin C, calcium, and folic acid, which can help boost immunity. The same research also demonstrated that dandelion leaf tea may have a suppressant effect on E. coli (2).
Drinking dandelion tea can help improve digestive system function and treat stomach problems. The tea boasts anti-inflammatory properties, which help to lower blood pressure, soothe stomach muscles, and prevent cramps. Drinking dandelion tea can also stimulate the flow of bile, aiding the body in the breakdown of food.
A study published in the Review of Diabetic Studies also found that dandelion root tea may help to decrease insulin resistance and regulate blood sugar levels. The mechanism behind these health benefits isn't completely understood, but researchers believe that compounds in dandelion root inhibit a-amylase, thus preventing the breakdown of complex carbohydrates into glucose (3).
Dandelion tea is a known diuretic that can help detoxify the body and improve liver function. In fact, dandelion root extract has long been used in natural medicine as a liver aid. Research shows that dandelion boasts antioxidant effects that help to prevent oxidative stress caused by free radicals (4). Oxidative stress has been linked to a host of liver diseases.
A study published in BioMed Central found that a combination of dandelion root extract and uva ursi helped to treat recurrent urinary tract infections. Researchers found that patients who took the herbal medicine blend had a faster recovery time and fewer intense symptoms (5).
Dandelion root tea is naturally calorie-free making it a great replacement for unhealthy drinks such as sodas and sugar-laden juices. Studies show it takes just one cup of dandelion root tea to increase urination and improve urine flow (6).
Dandelion root tea is a natural diuretic, which helps to improve bowel movements. Drinking this tea may help to reduce bloating by decreasing water weight. A study published in Nutrition Research and Practice found that dandelion teas help to inhibit pancreatic lipase in the same way anti-obesity drugs such as Orlistat do (7).
Preliminary research shows that drinking dandelion tea may help to prevent the onset of certain types of cancer. One study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that dandelion root extract may even induce apoptosis—or cell death—in melanoma cancer cells. Researchers found that cancer cells died within 48 hours after contact with the dandelion extract in the lab (8).
A second study found that dandelion root extract killed 95 percent of colon cancer cells within 48 hours of treatment (9). It's important to note that this research is still ongoing and has not been replicated in humans. According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, research studies have shown dandelion root has anticancer properties, but it has not been proven to fight cancer in human trials as of yet (10).
Dandelion root tea has very few side effects. Certain individuals may experience an allergic reaction when drinking this tea, particularly if they suffer from allergies to the live dandelion plant or other plants in the Asteraceae family.
In addition, dandelion root tea may have contraindications with certain medications—particularly diuretics. Always talk to your healthcare professional before drinking herbal teas if you take any medications.
1. Set the stove to high heat and bring water to a rapid boil in a medium saucepan. Alternatively, you can use a temperature controlled tea kettle to brew boiling water.
2. Once boiling, remove from heat and add the dandelion root to the hot water. Simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Use a fine mesh strainer to remove the dandelion root and pour into cups.
4. Sweeten with sugar or honey to lessen the bitter flavor.
Drinking organic dandelion root tea may help to improve overall health including liver function and immunity. The tea is a fantastic replacement for coffee as it offers a similar flavor profile without the jittery effects. Head down to your local health food store and pick up some freshly roasted dandelion root to brew at home. You can also harvest and dry your own dandelion root to brew this beverage from your garden.