Dandelions are good for seniors

Herbs are all around us, but we often don’t recognize them, or understand their value. For example: most people view dandelion as a weed that sullies their well-manicured lawn.

From an herbal perspective, however, dandelion is one of the most versatile, healing plants available. It contains Vitamins A, B6, C, and K, as well as minerals, iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

For seniors, dandelion is a “super herb” that may:

  • Improve bone health
  • Protect against osteoporosis and arthritis
  • Detoxify the liver, the body’s “processing plant”
  • Aid in digestion
  • Help control diabetes
  • Help prevent urinary problems
  • Promote healthy skin.

Dandelion is a flower and is a broad term for many types of flowers that are native to Europe and North America. Taraxacum is the large genus to which these plants belong. They are herbaceous and perennial plants that grow very well in temperate climates. They also reproduce quickly and effectively, so it is possible to cultivate plenty of dandelions at the same time.

Interestingly, dandelion translates into a “lion’s tooth” in French. Despite the health benefits of dandelions, they are more popular as ornamental flowering plants than as a medicine. These flowers have a yellow color and are frequently seen in gardens. In terms of history, the plant is believed to have evolved about 30 million years ago in Eurasia.

According to the USDA Food Data Central, one cup of chopped dandelion greens are mostly made up of water and low in calories. They also contain carbohydrates and fiber. Other nutrients include vitamins A, B6, C, and K as well as minerals, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. [1]

Health Benefits of Dandelion

Let us understand the different health benefits of dandelions below.

Promotes a Healthy Liver

A study published in the Korea Food Research Institute has found that dandelion leaf extract may provide relief from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. [2]

Dandelion greens, sold in many natural foods markets, can be added to salads for a nutritious health boost.

Some people also believe that antioxidants like vitamin C and luteolin, in dandelions, may keep the liver functioning in optimal gear. These nutrients protect it from toxins and help treat hemorrhaging in the liver.

Aids in Digestion

A study published in 2017 states that inulin, a carbohydrate, is very helpful in maintaining a healthy gut. It turns out that dandelions contain a good amount of inulin, so adding it to your diet can contribute to improved bacterial flora in the intestinal tract. [3]

Dandelion supplements aid in maintaining the proper flow of bile, while also stimulating the liver and promoting digestion. Being rich in fiber, dandelions also aid in lowering the risk of dyspepsia, diverticulosis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Dandelion is commonly prescribed for children who are experiencing constipation, as it is relatively soothing on the stomach.

A research study published in The Review of Diabetic Studies revealed that dandelion exhibits promising anti-diabetic properties. Dandelion juice aids people with diabetes by stimulating the production of insulin from the pancreas, thereby regulating the blood sugar level. Regulated blood sugar and maintained insulin level may help prevent dangerous spikes and plunges in people with diabetes. [4] [5]

Skin Care

Dandelion sap, also known as dandelion milk, is useful in treating skin diseases, which are caused by microbial and fungal infections. This treatment stems from the fact that the sap is highly alkaline and has germicidal, insecticidal, and fungicidal properties. [6]

In a 2015 study, dandelion extracts show potential in protecting your skin from UV damage. The research says that excess exposure to UV irradiation causes premature aging of the skin and dandelion leaf and flower extracts can shield you from that. [7]

Furthermore, dandelion extracts have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help curb acne. It also helps in moisturizing your skin. [8]

Weight Loss

Studies on herbal remedies for weight loss show that dandelion may be helpful. One research suggests that bitter herbs like dandelion, when taken in the form of tea or infusions, may help in the breakdown of fat. While many people include dandelion in their diet for weight management, an ample amount of research is still awaited to gauge its effect on obesity. [9]

Anticancer Potential

Dandelion extracts are high in antioxidants such as vitamin C and luteolin, which reduce free radicals in the body, thereby potentially reducing the risk of cancer. [10] [11]

A report by Dr. Arnab Roy Chowdhury, Dr. Shalini Sharma, and others, in the Biochemical Journal states that luteolin poisons essential components of cancer cells when it binds to them, rendering them ineffective and unable to reproduce. [12]

Boosts Immunity

Dandelion has been traditionally used to relieve symptoms of hepatitis and according to research, the dandelion supplements may aid in treating hepatitis. Another study suggests that dandelion may help protect the immune system against various diseases with the potential for developing therapies for certain diseases with reduced side effects. It has antimicrobial properties and may aid in preventing bacterial infections. A 2018 study suggests dandelions have antibacterial properties that fight Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. [13] [16] [15] [14]

Alleviates Anemia

Dandelions have good levels of iron, vitamins, and protein. While iron is an integral part of hemoglobin in the blood, vitamin B and protein are essential for the formation of red blood cells (RBCs) and certain other components of the blood. [17]

Regulates Blood Pressure

Dandelions, being diuretic in nature, increase urination, both in quantity and frequency. Traditional medicine believes that this helps in detoxifying your body. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that it helps in riding your body of excess fluids, thereby lowering blood pressure. [18]

Dandelion is a good source of potassium. This mineral has been connected to lower blood pressure in people who have hypertension and are not taking any medicines. [19]

Prenatal Care

Vitamin A, calcium, and iron, found in dandelions, are great nutrients for any mom-to-be. The American Pregnancy Association suggests that it can help relieve mild edema and nourish the liver. It also aids in the third trimester as it can protect pregnant women from night blindness. [20]

Bone Health

The benefits of dandelion roots also include healthy bones. Research suggests that inulin (a type of soluble fiber) found in the dandelion root may help prevent osteoporosis. [4]

Including Dandelions in Your Diet

There are many ways to include dandelion in your diet as it is available in many forms. Here are the recommended dosages of this plant and its supplements. [4]

  • Fresh leaves: 4-10 g daily
  • Dried leaves: 4-10 g daily
  • Leaf tincture: 2-5 ml, three times a day
  • Fresh leaf juice: 1 teaspoon twice daily
  • Fluid extract: 1-2 teaspoon daily
  • Fresh roots: 2-8 g daily
  • Dried powder extract: 250-1000 mg four times a day

You can use dandelions in your daily diet in the following ways.

  • You can enjoy dandelion wine, fry up the flowers into fritters, make coffee out of the stem, leaves, and seeds, and so much more.
  • If you have dandelion flowers on hand, you can also make a chilled cup of dandelion flower tea.
  • You can use dandelion greens in your salads, to add some unique nutrients to the meal and can also add them to make sandwiches in place of lettuce.
  • Dandelion greens can be used to make pesto for a new taste.

Side Effects of Dandelions

There are a couple of side effects when you include dandelions in your diet. They are:

  • Dandelions can be helpful in lowering blood sugar, but for people already taking blood-sugar modulators, this can result in hypoglycemia, an equally dangerous condition. [4]
  • If you are allergic to plants like ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, and daisies, you may experience the same with dandelions. The milky sap of dandelions has been known to cause itchiness, irritation, or allergic reactions on the skin, and should be kept away from the eyes. [21]
  • There is a rare type of fiber in dandelions called inulin and some people have a predisposed sensitivity or allergy to it which can be quite severe. [22]

Note: It is advised that pregnant and breast-feeding women not use dandelion.

Always consult your physician if you plan to take herbal supplements.