English Name: Dandelion
Latin Name: Taraxacum officinale
What is Dandelion?
While its native origins are up for discussion, the genus Taraxacum from the family Asteraceae (Compositae) is now a common wildflower all over the world. Dandelions are recognizable for their saw-toothed leaves and bright yellow flowers that morph into white puffs of seed pods for propagation. The flower, stem, leaves and root are all entirely edible, and their ubiquity and early spring appearance make them important nectar sources for bees and other pollinators. The common name dandelion comes from the French “dent-de-lion,” which means lion’s tooth, based on the toothy, serrated edge of the leaves.
How does it work?
Native Americans and traditional Chinese herbalists have included dandelions in their therapeutic arsenals for centuries, boiling them into tea and grinding them into powder to treat common ailments like fever and diarrhea, but also serious conditions like liver problems, kidney disfunction and even appendicitis. Because these common weeds are rich in vitamins A, B, C and D as well as minerals like iron, potassium and zinc, they were incorporated into diets of early humans, acting as de facto multivitamins. The most powerful component of the lowly dandelion, however, is its phytochemicals. These naturally occurring plant chemicals can stimulate the immune system, reduce inflammation, block carcinogens, regulate hormones and reduce cell damage.
What are its benefits?
The nutrient-dense composition of the dandelion makes it an ideal addition to any healthy diet, but its possible benefits go beyond general health. The diuretic properties of dandelions may reduce water weight, and ingesting them can soothe a number of digestive troubles, from constipation to loss of appetite. The plant also helps flush fat from the liver and can increase bile production, both of which improve liver function and result in an overall detoxifying effect on the body.
Products Featuring this Ingredient
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The content provided is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have a health condition, please consult a medical professional and do not use this information to self-diagnose or self-treat.
 "Phytochemicals: The Cancer Fighters in Your Foods." American Institute for Cancer Research. Accessed July 20, 2018. http://www.aicr.org/reduce-your-cancer-risk/diet/elements_phytochemicals.html.
Reviewed by Master Herbalist, Mary Ellen Kosanke