Yes, Dandelions Are Actually Healthy
Millions of Americans do this every single weekend during the spring and the summer.
They head to the hardware store and they stock up on all kinds of chemicals and pieces of equipment to rid their yards and driveways of dandelions.
I get it, if you want to have a great-looking yard then dandelions aren’t something you want to have around.
But hear me out when I tell you that you should rethink going on to commit dandelion genocide as these yellow flowers are not the problem you think they are.
Sure, not all weeds are desirable, I get that.
But this one may be one of the best “weeds” to keep around and here’s why.
6 Reasons to Consider Keeping Dandelions Around
How did we get to a place where dandelions are often thought of as pesky weeds?
Well, there’s a deep history of how Americans became obsessed with uniform, mono-crop yards that could be the subject of a study in American psychology.
I won’t get into that but suffice it to say, people hate them.
But here’s the thing, going to war on dandelions isn’t a great idea, especially regarding your health.
Reason 1 to consider keeping dandelions is something I want you to think long and hard about.
1 - Using Herbicides to Kill Dandelions Could Make You Sick:
If you’re like most Americans who attack dandelions the chances are you use chemicals like Round-Up or Ortho to knock them dead.
According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, exposure to weed killers that you find in Home Depot or Lowes can lead to all kinds of health issues. This would include various health risks such as cancer, respiratory problems, and birth defects.
Probably one of the more startling findings (that’s been proven several times over) is that glyphosate (the primary ingredient in Round-Up) can cause DNA damage and reproductive problems in both animals and humans.
There’s also a study from the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer that determined glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic to humans." The report stated that exposure to glyphosate could increase the risk of cancer, especially non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
This is just scratching the surface of reasons not to kill dandelions with chemicals.
And now I’ll tell you all about the positive reasons to keep them around.
2 - They’re A Rich Source Of Nutrients
Dandelion leaves, stem and even the flower are a powerhouse of nutrients.
And the nice thing is you can pick them right out of your lawn and plop them in a salad and immediately begin enjoying the benefits.
Dandelions provide you with vitamins A, C, and K as well as calcium, potassium, iron, and manganese.
And one of the other nutrient combos they pack is in the form of antioxidants.
Dandelions contain several types of antioxidants, including polyphenols, flavonoids, and carotenoids. Surprisingly beta-carotene is in super high concentration (the yellow color of the flower comes from beta-carotene), as well as luteolin which is a flavonoid known to exhibit anti-inflammatory properties.
See, not a bad reason to keep them around, right?
3 - They Can Aid With Better Digestion:
People have known for centuries that dandelions can help your stomach feel better.
There are two reasons behind their digestion-improving qualities.
The first is their fiber content.
As you know, fiber helps to move food through the gut and also can help to feed probiotic bacteria in the gut, both of which are responsible for helping promote healthy digestion.
Making dandelions a part of your diet could help with providing regular bowel movements, preventing constipation, and improving overall digestive health.
Another aspect of dandelions as it relates to digestion is that since dandelions have a mild diuretic effect they may help you feel better by reducing water retention and bloating.
4 - They May Help Reduce Inflammation:
As I talked about above in the nutrient section, dandelion’s antioxidant content is a key reason to consider using them in your diet.
Now, inflammation is a natural response to injury or infection and isn’t something to worry about if it happens infrequently.
However, if you have chronic inflammation that’s not good. And I know you don’t want not good things to happen to you, right?
Many of the antioxidants in dandelions have been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory properties, which means that they may help reduce inflammation in the body. Studies have shown that dandelion extract can reduce inflammation in the liver, kidneys, and other organs.
In addition to the antioxidants I wrote about above, dandelions also have bioactive components such as sesquiterpene lactones, taraxasterol (TS), taraxerol, chlorogenic acid (CGA), and CRA. These components are non-toxic and can be exploited for their potentially anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, anti-rheumatic, and chloretic properties.
These flowers are an inflammation-fighting powerhouse!
5 - Supports Liver Health
I love how nature is full of plants that can help to give the liver the support it needs to detoxify us better.
For hundreds of years, people have used dandelions for their tonic-like effects.
Modern research has shown that dandelions may help improve liver function and promote detoxification. The way it works is if you take the dandelion root and make a tea of it (or eat it) it can help to stimulate the production of bile, which helps break down fats and eliminate toxins from the body.
If you don’t want to eat dandelions for this effect, studies are showing dandelion tea can help support liver health too.
6- May Help Lower Blood Pressure
I don’t think it’s a secret that plants are good for helping the heart.
That’s true of dandelions too.
“In Western medicine, diuretic medications are used to rid the body of excess fluid, which may help decrease blood pressure levels.
One older human study found dandelion to be an effective diuretic. However, this study was brief and involved only 17 people.
Dandelion also contains potassium, a mineral associated with decreased blood pressure in those with previously elevated levels. Thus, this plant may have an indirect effect on blood pressure due to its potassium content.”
Dandelion supplements may also be a good thing to include in your life.
So, Can You Just Go Out and Pick Dandelions to Start Enjoying the Benefits
Yes and no.
Yes if your yard has not been treated with chemicals and you’re confident you can identify a dandelion (a quick Google search will show you to make distinctions between some plants that resemble dandelions but aren’t).
No for the opposite reasons.
You can eat the live flower and stem, and if you want to watch a video on ways to incorporate them into your life check out this one.