When you think of dandelion, you probably picture a pesky weed. But did you know that the plant has long been used in herbal medicine? You can drink an infusion made of the plant’s leaves or of roasted dandelion roots. Shalini Manglani, Nutritionist and Wellness Consultant, Bangalore, says, “The roots and leaves of dandelion are dried and used to make dandelion tea, and can benefit your health myriad ways.” Dr. Gargi Sharma, a Delhi-based Nutritionist, says, “Dandelion tea is rich in vitamin A, C and D. It contains high amounts of zinc, iron and magnesium.”
Here are 8 health benefits of dandelion tea:
1. Good for Digestion
“Dandelion tea can have many positive effects on your digestive system. It improves appetite and soothes digestive ailments,” says Dr. Ritika Samaddar, Head of Dietetics at the Max Super Speciality Hospital. “According to various studies, dandelions aid our digestive system by maintaining the proper flow of bile. Dandelion tea helps with mineral absorption and soothes the stomach lining,” says Dr. Manoj K. Ahuja, Fortis Hospitals.
2. Detoxifies the Liver
The role of our liver is to produce bile (which helps enzymes in the body break down fats into fatty acids) and also to filter and detoxify our blood. “The vitamins and nutrients present in dandelions help in cleansing and maintaining the proper functioning of our liver,” says Dr. Ritika Samaddar.
3. Acts as a Diuretic
“Dandelion tea has a natural diuretic effect as it helps in removing excessive fluid from the body and thus relieves bloating. It allows your liver to eliminate toxins,” says Dr. Ritika.
4. Reduces Water Weight
“According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, participants showed a significant increase in frequency of urination after the first two doses of Dandelion tea. Water weight, and subsequent bloating went down,” says Dr. Manglani.
5. Powerhouse of Antioxidants
“Dandelion tea is packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that help in preventing certain types of cell damage. The body uses antioxidants to fight free radical damage, which is very dangerous for the body’s tissues and is connected to cancer and premature aging. Luckily, drinking dandelion tea helps the body avoid cell damage from free radicals,” says Dr. Ahuja.
6. Fights Diabetes
“Various studies have shown that dandelion tea lowers levels of blood sugar and can in turn treat diabetes. It removes excess sugar that is stored in the body due to its diuretic properties and helps in stimulating the production of insulin from the pancreas. It is a great way to fight diabetes naturally,” adds Dr. Manglani.
7. Treats Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Dr. Gargi Sharma says, “Dandelion tea can help prevent urinary tract infections, as well as bladder disorders, kidney problems and possibly even cysts on reproductive organs. A specific combination of dandelion root and leaf extracts of another herb called Uva Ursi (that can be taken orally) helps treat UTIs in women. In this combination, Uva Ursi is used to kill bacteria, and dandelion tea is used because of its ability to stimulate urine production and fight infection.”
8. Fights Cancer
According to Dr. Sharma, dandelion tea contains anti-cancerous properties. A study conducted in 2011 by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Windsor in Canada found that dandelion root tea was effective in killing different types of cancer as a result of its free radical-fighting abilities.
Note: “Before you begin to use dandelion tea medicinally, you may want to discuss it with your doctor – especially if you’re pregnant or have an irritable bowel,” warns Dr. Manglani.