Dandelion is a common meadow herb of the sunflower family, closely related to chicory. Dandelion has been used for centuries by herbalists as a general detox herb.
Dandelion leaves and roots are still used today to treat liver, gall bladder, kidney, and joint problems. Dandelion is considered a blood purifier and is used for ailments such as eczema and cancer. The herb has also been used to treat water retention, poor digestion, and diseases of the liver such as hepatitis.
And dandelions are nutritious, too. They are a significant source of many important nutrients. They contain potassium, sodium, calcium, phosphorus and iron. The leaves are a richer source of vitamin A than carrots and contain some amounts of vitamins B, C and D. The root contains bitter glycosides, tannins, triterpenes, sterols, volatile oil, choline, asparagin, and inulin.
The bitter compounds in the leaves and roots of dandelions could help to stimulate digestion and are mild laxatives. They could also increase bile production in the gall bladder and bile flow from the liver. This makes dandelion a great tonic if you have a sluggish liver function due to poor diet. The increase in bile flow could help improve fat (including cholesterol) metabolism in the body.
In one clinical trial, researchers wanted to find out if dandelion had any ability to fight cancerous growths. Researchers used dandelion extracts and investigated their effect on tumor progression. Results showed that dandelion leaf decreased the growth of breast cancer cells and prostate cancer cells. The research team concluded that dandelion extract may be of value as an anti-cancer agent.
You can take dandelion as an infusion of the leaf, a juice extraction, a root decoction, a fluid extract or a tincture. You can also simply add the fresh leaves to salads. Juice extraction, however, is the most potent form for medicinal purposes.