Dandelions are commonly known as invasive weeds. However, in the natural health world, dandelions are used in a wide array of home remedies. Dandelion leaves are used as a healthy addition to salads while dandelion flowers are used to make cosmetics and skin salves. Dandelion root extract is sometimes prescribed by holistic health professionals to treat infections.
Dandelions can also be used to brew a tasty tea that may offer some health benefits. This tea brews into a golden yellow hue that mimics the look of sunshine. Find out more about dandelion tea and its health benefits right here.
Dandelion tea is an herbal tea made from the leaves, petals, and roots of the dandelion plant known by the botanical name Taraxacum officinale. The tea is made by steeping the leaves, roots, or petals in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes. Dandelion tea is available at health food stores, grocery stores, and can be made using fresh herbs from the garden.
Dandelion root tea offers a taste profile similar to a cup of roasted coffee. It's rich, bold and malty with hints of chocolate and earthy notes. The similar flavor profile makes dandelion root tea a great coffee substitute if you're looking to cut down on your caffeine intake.
Even though it tastes like coffee, dandelion tea is caffeine-free. Dandelion tea made with dandelion greens is more bitter with vegetal notes while dandelion petal tea is slightly floral.
Dandelion tea may help to fight off infections and boost the immune system thanks to vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants present in the plants. Antioxidants are powerful compounds that can help eliminate free radicals.
Free radicals are highly reactive cells that cause deterioration in normal cellular processes. These agents have been linked to a host of ailments including heart disease, certain types of cancer, and signs of aging. Antioxidants work to flush these reactive cells from the human body to prevent oxidative stress — the process that breaks down cells.
Dandelion tea also boasts diuretic properties, which can help shorten the duration of an infection. A study published in Current Therapeutic Research found that a combination of dandelion and uva ursi helped to prevent recurrent urinary tract infections (1).
Drinking dandelion tea may help to streamline the digestive system, though studies on the subject are scarce. In herbal medicine, dandelions have been used to treat nausea and digestive ailments such as upset stomach and stomach cramps. Experts think the anti-inflammatory properties of this tea are responsible for decreasing pain and soothing irritated stomach muscles.
Drinking dandelion tea may also help to improve liver function and streamline digestion. Research shows that dandelion tea may help to increase the flow of bile, thus helping the body break down foods into nutrients more easily (2).
Dandelion tea is a naturally calorie-free beverage. It's a great replacement for sugar-laden drinks that can pack on the pounds. Plus, it's tastier than plain old water so you're more likely to drink it and stay hydrated, which can help you power through workouts.
One small study also showed that dandelion tea may help decrease weight loss on a chemical level. The research was published in Nutrition Research and Practice and involved a comparison between dandelion extract and Orlistat — a common weight loss medication — on mice.
Researchers found that dandelion extract directly affected an enzyme known for dietary fat digestion. The researchers found that dandelion extract was as effective as Orlistat, though more studies are needed to confirm the efficacy in humans (3).
Dandelion tea is a natural diuretic, which means it can help to decrease water weight (4). While this doesn't equate to long term weight loss, it may help you slim down before a big event.
Dandelion tea may be beneficial for heart health thanks to natural anti-inflammatory properties. Dandelion tea works gently to decrease inflammation, which can improve blood circulation. This may help to decreases high blood pressure and prevent the risk of serious heart disease including blood clots and heart attacks.
In recent years, researchers have begun examining the effects of a host of natural ingredients to fight cancer. Recent research on the use of dandelion tea and dandelion extracts shows some potential benefits.
A study published in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine examined the effects of dandelion root extract on human melanoma cells. Researchers found that dandelion root extract induces apoptosis — cell death — of skin cancer cells (5). It's important to note that the research was conducted in a laboratory setting and was not a human trial. A second study published in Pancreas found that dandelion root extract induced apoptosis in pancreatic cancer cells (6). More research on the cancer benefits of dandelions is warranted, but early results are promising.
Diabetes is a disease that affects millions of Americans. It's typically characterized by decreased production or tolerance of insulin levels. A study published in the review of Diabetic Studies examined the effects of dandelion on diabetes. Researchers found that dandelions helped to modulate blood sugar levels and improved insulin tolerance (7).
Dandelions contain vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for human health. In fact, dandelions contain vitamin A and vitamin K. Vitamin A is beneficial for vision, the immune system, and healthy cell growth. Known as a retinoid, it's also beneficial for skin health and premature aging (8). Vitamin K is responsible for a host of vital body processes. It's essential to blood clotting, calcium regulation, and bone health (9).
The main side effect associated with drinking dandelion tea is an allergic reaction. People who are allergic to dandelion plants or related plants should avoid drinking this tea. Stop drinking dandelion tea if it makes you sneeze or causes a skin rash.
Dandelion tea may also interact with certain medications. The diuretic effect of dandelion tea may interact with other diuretics while other ingredients may affect medications such as Cipro. Always seek medical advice from a qualified healthcare professional before drinking herbal teas. Your healthcare provider can help you understand potential side effects and when to avoid the use of dandelion tea.
Dandelion tea offers a new world of flavor when it comes to traditional tea drinking. Unlike true teas, this herbal tea does not contain any caffeine and is not made from the Camellia sinensis tea plant. It offers a range of flavors depending on which plant part is used for brewing the tea.
In addition to the tasty flavors, this tea may offer some benefits for health. Remember, the FDA doesn’t approve the use of dandelions in the treatment of any ailments. Drinking this tea is best when it's enjoyed for its unique flavor and sunny color. Settle back and enjoy a tasty treat from the herbs in your garden.