What is dandelion root?
Many people look at dandelions as pesky weeds that overtake lawns and gardens, but they’re actually filled with vitamins and minerals and can act as an herbal remedy. “The dandelion plant (the root and leaf are used) is known as a bitter and has all the benefits of bitter herbs, such as priming digestive function for those who may have overeaten, digest poorly, or suffer from post-prandial bloating and fullness [after a meal],” says Michael Brown, a Kansas City-based naturopathic doctor and the founder of Naturae’s Path. “It is also a great botanical for liver and kidney support. It not only enhances the liver’s metabolic and detoxification ability, but it is also protective to the kidneys and is an outstanding natural-medicine diuretic.” Some people drink dandelion tea as part of a detox, but here are some things to consider before you start a detox.
Interesting new research
There haven’t been many studies on the herb, but that’s starting to change. Donese Worden, a naturopathic medical doctor and adjunct faculty at Arizona State University, notes two interesting pieces of new research. One study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology in 2019 discovered new compounds in dandelion root in addition to its other 100 already-known phytochemicals. “Some of these phytochemicals act as antioxidants and anticoagulants, and some have anti-platelet activities, reducing the stickiness of the blood,” she says. The other study, which appeared in the journal Molecular Biology Reports in 2019, found that dandelion root protected the liver and testicular tissues of rats when used before radiation procedures. Worden adds that dandelion root may also protect against photo-aging from UVB rays and help combat obesity, while other research suggests that dandelion root may help fight diabetes and certain types of cancers.