The same pesky weed known for ruining lawns (see photos) has a long history of being used as a healing herb in cultures around the globe. One cup of raw dandelion greens provides 535 percent of the RDA of vitamin K and 112 percent of the RDA for vitamin A. Dandelion greens are also a good source of vitamin C, calcium, iron, fiber and potassium. Among all foods, it’s one of the richest sources of vitamin A and one of the best sources of beta-carotene.
Dandelion has been used for centuries to treat hepatitis, kidney and liver disorders such as kidney stones, jaundice and cirrhosis. It’s routinely prescribed as a natural treatment for hepatitis C, anemia and liver detoxification. As a natural diuretic (find others), dandelion supports the entire digestive system and increases urine output, helping flush toxins and excess salt from the kidneys. The naturally occurring potassium in dandelions helps prevent the loss of potassium that can occur with pharmaceutical diuretics.
Dandelion promotes digestive health by stimulating bile production, resulting in a gentle laxative effect. Inulin (what’s that?) further aids digestion by feeding the healthy probiotic bacteria in the intestines; it also increases calcium absorption and has a beneficial effect on blood sugar levels, therefore being useful in treating diabetes. Both the dandelion leaves and root are used to treat heartburn and indigestion. The pectin in dandelion relieves constipation and, in combination with vitamin C, reduces cholesterol. Dandelion is excellent for reducing edema, bloating and water retention; it can also help reduce high blood pressure. On top of all that, dandelion contains multiple antidiarrheal and antibacterial properties.
In Chinese medicine, dandelion is used in combination with other herbs to treat hepatitis and upper respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. The sap from the stem and root is a topical remedy for warts (find more natural remedies).
How much: How much dandelion to incorporate into your diet boils down to availability and personal preference. Dandelion greens are considered a specialty item in some areas and therefore can be difficult to find. They also have a pungent taste, and people tend to love or hate the flavor.