Dandelion root has shown itself to be one of nature’s most potent antioxidants. The superfood has shown the most promise in areas of cancer prevention and treatment, as well as being a powerful liver detoxifier, heart disease and diabetes preventative, as well as a suitable natural alternative to harsh antibiotics.
While the root itself contains very little nutrition compared to the hearty greens and stems of the plant, its antibiotic and antimicrobial compounds more than make up for its short-comings.
This plant is available in many forms including the ability to harvest this “weed” straight from your front yard, to buying it in pill form and tinctures from your local health food store or favorite online retailer (Amazon is my fave, purely for convenience and competitive pricing!) After reading this, you’ll wonder why we all work so hard to kill the plant!
The root, discussed in this article, can be ground up and put into your favorite dishes, or made into a hearty dandelion tea. For maximum health benefit, I recommend taking it in extract form, since it’s hard to gauge how much of the antioxidants and antimicrobial compounds you’re taking in.
Keep reading to learn more about this superfood’s benefits, potential side effects, and for product recommendations to help avoid purchasing inferior products.
Note About Nutrition
The dandelion root should not be confused with the stems and leaves (greens) that grow from it above ground. Dandelion greens are indeed known for their impressive nutrition profile. However, this article will delve specifically into the root, which while offering little nutritional benefit in the form of vitamins and minerals, has far-reaching liver protective, and antioxidant/antibacterial properties that greens do not.
Dandelion Root Benefits
1. Proven to kill many types of cancer
Dandelion root extract has shown significant ability to halt cancer in its tracks. While little research has been performed on the prevention side of the cancer equation, there are a number of studies that show its ability to kill skin, colon, pancreatic, breast and prostate cancer cells, as well as blood and bone marrow cancer, known as leukemia.
A 2011 study on dandelion root extract showed a reduction in melanoma cancer cells within two days of beginning treatment. The exact two-day time window has been shown in studies on colon cancer cells treated with the root extract. Another study concluded that dandelion, along with other natural treatment methods showed great promise in treating leukemia without using toxic chemotherapy drugs.
2. Balances Cholesterol
High cholesterol has a huge impact on our risk for heart disease. Particularly when levels of good (HDL) and bad (LDL) aren’t balanced. The further apart these numbers are on a blood test, the more likely a person is to have clogged arteries, which cause heart attacks and strokes, due to reduced blood flow.
A change in diet is always the first recommendation for someone with poorly balanced HDL and LDL. Generally, processed foods are the biggest contributor, as they contain unnatural chemicals, hydrogenated and trans fats, refined sugars (such as high fructose corn syrup), and are known to be engineered by scientists to promote overindulgence and hard to control cravings.
Thankfully, dandelion root has also shown promise in balancing levels and reducing cholesterol numbers overall. A study performed on rabbits found that animals fed an otherwise high cholesterol diet, supplemented with dandelion enjoyed lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. One group was fed dandelion root, whereas another was fed equal amounts of the root.
Both groups in the study realized a reduction in total cholesterol, LDL numbers, and triglycerides — along with a boost in HDL levels. Combine dandelion root with a good diet and regular daily exercise and it’s possible you’ve uncovered the holy grail in preventing heart disease!
3. Contributes to Liver Health
Depending on what source you listen to, the liver has anywhere from 400 to 500 jobs it’s doing in the body at any given time. The liver cleanses us from all the chemicals we take in when we eat, drink, and breathe. It clears pharmaceutical drugs from our system. The liver also manages fats and carbohydrates from our diet, storing food energy and releasing it when we need it most.
Dandelion root has shown promise in helping the liver to detoxify, much in the same way milk thistle does. When added to the diet of mice fed alcohol, dandelion root helped to prevent alcohol toxicity. This is worthy of note, as both milk thistle and dandelion root are so effective because they’re powerful antioxidants.
Perhaps the most powerful antioxidants available to the liver, as vitamin C and others haven’t proved to have the same powerful liver-protective effects in several long term studies. In a word, get lots of vitamin C to protect against the common cold, but don’t forget about dandelion root when it comes to the body’s busiest organ!
4. Powerful Antioxidant
Oxidation occurs in every cell in the human body, as a result of “oxidants” called free radicals floating around in our blood. There’s no way to prevent them coming into the body, as they enter via the food we eat, beverages we drink, and from pollution in the air we breathe. If there was no such thing as oxidation, we wouldn’t age, our arteries wouldn’t become clogged, or skin wouldn’t wrinkle, etc.
Oxidation is a battle constantly being won and lost in all living creatures. There are many vitamins, phenols, and other molecules that act as antioxidants, which either inhibit or bind to and remove free radicals from the body. Consuming more antioxidants can prevent and treat some of the most serious conditions in our body, like heart disease, cancer, and type II diabetes.
Dandelion root is jam-packed with antioxidants, which is why all the major studies out there, such as cancer research, are using the root as opposed to the flower. While arguments still exist, the root is considered far superior for use as an antioxidant.
5. Wards off Bacterial Infection
Dandelion root is a strong anti-microbial that’s shown to stop disease causing bacteria in its tracks; both food and air born bacteria. When highly-aggressive bacteria enters our bodies, harsh antibiotics often become the only way to prevent scary diseases like Staph from proliferating.
In this study, scientists found that a dandelion root extract was effective at fighting off Staphylococcus aureus, antibiotic-resistant S. aureus, and Bacillus cereus strains of bacteria, all of which are among the list of most difficult to control. More studies are needed, but dandelion root’s potential in this area should be welcome news to athletes, the chronically ill, elderly folks, and world travelers who’re often most susceptible to hard-to-control bacterial infections.
Top Rated Dandelion Root Supplements Reviewed and Ranked
|Nature’s Way Dandelion Root
|Frontier Natural’s Roasted Dandelion Granules
|Nature’s Answer Alcohol-Free Dandelion Root, 1-Fluid Ounce
|Herbal Secrets Dandelion Root Capsules
|Frontier Bulk Cut & Sifted
|Ahana Nutrition “Zenergy” Maximum Strength
Frontier Natural’s Roasted Dandelion Granules
This product is truly a favorite of mine! If you like coffee but don’t care for the “buzz” of the caffeine, these roasted granules are a great way to start the day off right.
Using these granules in a tea or adding to your favorite dishes is a great way to assess your tolerance if you aren’t sure the plant is right for you. This kosher bag will last a long time and is definitely a great value.
Nature’s Answer Alcohol-Free Dandelion Root, 1-Fluid Ounce
I personally avoid liquid extracts because of their increased pricing and smaller doses offered in each purchase. However, I know some of you aren’t going to be keen on swallowing pills and drinking teas (taste).
So, for those of you who fit that mold, this organic 1:3 ratio (recommended) is just what the doctor ordered to appreciate the benefits of dandelion. The organic designation means you don’t have to worry about pesticides, and the FDA approval means you can rest easy knowing you’re getting a quality product.
Herbal Secrets Dandelion Root Capsules
This is a great product if you’re just looking for the benefits without all the fuss of making teas and brewing up tinctures and other concoctions. Each capsule from this Herbal Secret’s product comes with 520 mg of dandelion root extract.
With this Herbal Secrets’ product, you’re getting nothing but the antioxidant goodness from the plant and nothing else. I always recommend the extract if you’re looking for maximum benefit, and this highly concentrated, third party tested product definitely fits the bill.
Frontier Bulk Cut & Sifted
For those who like their dandelion root in barebones form, this offering from Frontier is sure to fulfill your needs. This 1 pound bag of kosher non-irradiated, cut and sifted dandelion root is certified organic.
You can add the dandelion root cuttings to hot water for a delicious tea, or grind them up further in a spice or coffee grinder for adding to dishes, making your own tinctures and poultices, or to create capsules at home. A large bag like this doesn’t hurt the budget and can last for months before you need to reorder.
Ahana Nutrition “Zenergy” Maximum Strength
Ahana isn’t messing around with Zenergy! With 900 mg of dandelion root extract per capsule, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more potent offering at such a great price. This one is great if you’ve tried lower doses already and want to ramp up dosages to see the extent of what maximum levels of dandelion root extract can do for you.
Zenergy is highly recommended for cleanses, cholesterol imbalance, lowering diabetic A1C levels, and for protecting the liver against the negative side effects of alcoholism and environmental elements that increase the strain on our most important organ.
Dandelion Root Warnings
Dandelion root is mostly considered safe, and side effects are generally rare and non life-threatening. However, there are a few warning to consider before taking it, or any of other plant in its immediate family. Dandelions belong to the ragweed, thistle, and daisy genus, so don’t take it if you have an allergy to any of those plants.
• Some people are allergic to dandelion, both the leaf and the plant. Allergic reactions can happen when dandelion is ingested or applied to the skin (such as a poultice). These reactions can manifest themselves in the form of a rash, swelling, or fever. Stop taking dandelion and talk to your doctor if you experience an allergic reaction to this plant.
• If you’re taking blood thinners, consult your doctor before taking dandelion root. Dandelion has high levels of vitamin K, which can inhibit the effectiveness of blood thinners like Warfarin when delivered in high doses, or when eating lots of raw dandelion greens. Less vitamin K is present in the root, but can still be a factor, particularly with potent extracts.
• As a powerful antimicrobial, dandelion root can hamper the effectiveness of antibiotics, even making the side effects of those drugs worse and longer lasting. Avoid dandelion root altogether when taking antibiotics and inform your doctor that you’re using it if/when they have to prescribe these drugs to you.
Dandelion Root Side Effects
As mentioned, side effects are rare and generally not long-lasting. Stop taking dandelion right away if you experience anything beyond what would be considered mild negative effects for more than a few days after starting to take it.
• Stomach inflammation
• Increased urination (dandelion is a diuretic)
• Skin irritation (redness, swelling, itchiness)
• Irritation of the eyes
• Runny nose
Dandelion root offers a host of benefits including cancer prevention and treatment, cholesterol balancing, antioxidant and antimicrobial goodness in the body. It’s from the same family as milk thistle, a plant known primarily for its effect on preventing liver toxicity and lowering blood sugar.
There are other benefits of taking dandelion root that haven’t been mentioned here, primarily because they only have anecdotal evidence to support them. With such powerful health benefits to offer, it’s obvious this superfood needs to be on everyone’s list of daily supplements.