It’s time to look at your lawn in a new way. Where you once saw just an invasion of weeds, now you should envision a potent cocktail of nutrient-rich compounds, because the health benefits of dandelion tea shouldn’t be ignored.
Native to Europe, dandelions crossed the Atlantic with European immigrants four centuries ago, and they have taken over millions of backyards since then. But this bane of many landscaper’s existences is bursting with health benefits for those enlightened enough to eat it.
In fact, dandelions were prized for their medicinal properties over a thousand years ago. Their roots and leaves contain significant amounts of vitamins and trace minerals, making them a proven way to boost your nutrient levels and restore health to your body.
Today this garden weed is getting rediscovered, and dandelion tea is fast becoming a favorite way to detoxify your body, reduce bloating and constipation, soothe an upset stomach and even lower your risk of disease.
Should you add this underrated weed to your diet? Keep reading to learn more!
What is Dandelion Tea?
As the name implies, dandelion tea is made from infusing dandelion roots, leaves, or blossoms in hot water to release their beneficial compounds into it.
Your tea will vary in flavor and nutritional value depending on the portion of the plant you use. For example, dandelion root tends to be best for treating liver ailments, the leaves work for the kidneys, and the flowers offer the most subtle flavor and benefits.
Not interested in harvesting your own greens? You can also purchase organic dandelion tea bags to still enjoy the health benefits.
13 Health Benefits of Drinking Dandelion Tea
If you can get your taste buds past the slightly bitter flavor, you’ll open your body up to a world of benefits by sipping on dandelion tea
1. Good Source of Nutrients
Infusing dandelion greens in water fills the brew with calcium, iron, potassium, vitamins K, A, and B6, as well as riboflavin and thiamin. You’ll also get a boost of antioxidant flavonoids like carotene and lutein.
Better yet, you can eat the leaves themselves! Ounce for ounce, they have higher nutritional value than both spinach and broccoli.
2. Keep Diabetes in Check
Studies show that sipping on dandelion tea can lower your blood sugar levels, which is critical for keeping diabetes in check. Though the research is still underway to determine the long-term benefits for diabetic patients, these initial results are promising.
3. Caffeine Free Coffee Alternative
Sick of seeking out coffee at every lull in your day? Roasted dandelion root tea offers a satisfying, caffeine-free alternative that looks and tastes similar to the real thing. You’ll get a powerful boost of antioxidants and minerals without the inevitable energy crash that comes with coffee.
4. Reduces Inflammation
Chronic inflammation can cause a host of unwanted health symptoms, including aching joints, muscle tenderness, and even headaches. Dandelion tea’s antioxidants work as anti-inflammatory agents to reduce pain and swelling in infected tissue to keep you comfortable.
5. Reduces Water Weight
Tired of feeling bloated? Dandelion tea acts as a natural diuretic that can increase your urination frequency so that you lose some of your water content. One study showed that two 1-cup servings were all it took to get the participant’s system’s flowing faster.
6. Helps You Lose Weight
Evidence from a Korean study shows that dandelions might be as effective as the weight loss drug Orlistat. How does it accomplish this? Dandelion leaves can naturally inhibit pancreatic lipase, which is an enzyme your body releases during digestion that puts your dietary fat into long-term storage in your body. This means that the brew can help prevent your body from clinging to fat so that you can lose it faster.
7. Prevents Chronic Diseases
Thanks to the potent blend of antioxidants that it contains, a cup of dandelion tea can help your body fight off free radicals, which minimizes oxidative stress that can lead to cancer and other chronic diseases. Likewise, these antioxidants help strengthen your immune system to reduce your risk of contracting an infection.
8. Soothes Digestive Ailments
A lot can go wrong with your digestive system today, but dandelion tea acts as a natural diuretic, digestive stimulant, and mild laxative to keep things functioning as they should. This means that a cup of tea after a meal can speed up the digestive process, eliminate constipation, and reduce cramps and bloating.
9. Promotes Liver Health
This classic liver tonic of folk medicine has scientific research to back up centuries of use. Dandelion tea is believed to increase the flow of bile in your liver, meaning that it can help detoxify the liver and reduce symptoms of liver disease. Research from China Pharmaceutical University even shows that the natural polysaccharides in dandelions can improve liver functioning.
10. Potential Cancer-Fighting Properties
Initial results from studies of dandelion’s abilities to fend off cancer are promising, as they reveal that the plant’s root extract can kill cancerous melanoma cells without harming healthy ones. The antioxidants also naturally fight against the free radical damage that can lead to cancer cells in the first place. So go brew a cup for your health
11. Helps Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
Due to dandelion tea’s natural diuretic effects, it makes an effective treatment for urinary tract infections, especially when paired with the herb bearberry (uva ursi). Increased urination from the tea will work to clean out your kidneys, making it harder for an infection to develop.
12. Builds Strong Bones
Thanks to the trace minerals like calcium, zinc, magnesium, and iron it contains, dandelion tea supplies what your body needs to create strong bones and fend off osteoporosis. This is especially important as you age, as bone mineral density naturally begins to decrease without consistent supplementation.
13. Boosts Circulation
Dandelion tea’s rich iron content provides your body with numerous benefits, including better blood flow. This improves your red blood cell counts and ensures that your entire body stays thoroughly oxygenated.
How To Collect Your Own Dandelions
Foraging for wild dandelions for a homemade health tonic might sound like an adventure, but your tea might contain more herbicides than health benefits if you aren’t careful about the source of your supply. Keep in mind that not all dandelions grow in optimal conditions, so avoid any plants likely to be contaminated by roadside pollution or weed killer. Open areas in wooded spaces are usually a safe bet, as well as your backyard if you maintain it naturally. Regardless, make sure you thoroughly wash each plant you harvest just to be safe.
Dandelion leaves are typically picked in spring when they are most tender, while the roots tend to be sweetest when harvested in the fall or winter. When seeking out quality dandelion greens, select the youngest, tenderest leaves for the least bitter brew. They should last for up to a week in the fridge if you store them in a damp paper towel.
Harvesting the roots will require digging down deep enough to pull out the entire taproot, which usually has several stems coming off from it. After the root is thoroughly washed, you can use it as is or slow roast it at 300 degrees for two hours to make dandelion ‘coffee’.
Remember to not collect all of the dandelions for yourself. Dandelions act as one of the first foods for the bees in spring so make sure yo leave plenty for these wonderful creatures to enjoy.
How To Make Dandelion Tea
Making dandelion tea couldn’t be simpler. Just pour hot water over small pieces of sliced greens or roasted root and let it steep until it reaches your preferred strength (usually five to ten minutes) before straining out the plant material and enjoying the drink.
Dandelion tea is usually best enjoyed fresh. If the natural brew is too bitter for you, serve it with a slice of lemon or sweeten it with honey to take the edge off.
You can also dry out the leaves to extend their shelf life. It’s possible to use a dehydrator, an oven set to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, or even the sun’s heat on a sweltering day. Once the leaves or roots are thoroughly dried out, you can store them in airtight glass jars in a cool, dry place out of sunlight.
Possible Side Effects of Dandelion Tea
Though most medical experts consider dandelion tea to be safe, there are some rare side effects to be aware of.
Some people suffer from stomach aches and diarrhea, likely due to the weed’s natural laxative effects. Others occasionally experience allergic reactions to the plant, and some prescription medications (like Cipro) can interact with it. Likewise, dandelion green’s high vitamin K content can make your blood clot faster, which can lead to complications if you’re taking blood thinners.
If you aren’t sure how you’ll react to dandelion tea, it’s best to start with a small cup while at home so that you can gauge your response in a safe space. It’s also a good idea to talk with your doctor before drinking the tea regularly to see if it will affect any of your regular medications.
Too Many Dandelions? Other Ways to Put Them to Use
When it comes to healthy uses for dandelion greens, dandelion tea is just the beginning.
You can consider these wild greens to be like spinach or arugula and put them to use in a variety of recipes, including as a salad ingredient, sandwich, or sautéed side dish. Just keep in mind that the bitter flavor of wild greens can overwhelm the flavor profile of a recipe, so you might want to blend them with a milder vegetable to keep things balanced.
Below are some recipe ideas to act as inspiration.
- Mix fresh basil with dandelion greens for an antioxidant-filled pesto variation.
- Saute dandelion greens for a seafood topper to add some zest to blander varieties of fish.
- Boost the nutritional profile of your morning smoothie by tossing in a handful of tender dandelion greens.
- Incorporate the greens into a vegetable broth with mushrooms and white miso for a light summer soup.
- Make “dandelion chips” by dousing the greens with oil and sea salt before drying them out at 350ºF for eight to ten minutes until crispy for a delicious alternative to the fried potato variety.
Start experimenting with recipes for dandelion leaves today, and you’ll soon find dozens of ways to incorporate them into your regular meals. In no time at all, you’ll completely transform your previous views about this pesky weed and begin to seek it out for its health-boosting properties.