Dandelion, buttercup, dandelion. This resilient herb with its tenacious roots is now known to harbor amazing healing powers. It’s not just the above-ground parts of the plant that are good for your health: the root also surprises with remarkable properties.
The dandelion root: an old remedy from folk medicine
Already in the medicine of the ancient Chinese and the Native Americans, the dandelion root was considered a particularly healing part of the dandelion. It was mainly used for stomach and liver problems, but also for cancer. It was not until around the 16th century that dandelion was also considered in Western folk medicine and is still used today for a variety of ailments.
Traditional uses of dandelion root
The dandelion root traditionally has many uses:
- It is considered a true build-up tonic, similar to ginseng, and is used in folk medicine for all states of weakness to get the body moving again.
- Dandelion root strengthens the kidneys, liver, pancreas, spleen, intestines, and stomach.
- Thanks to its liver-activating and antioxidant power, the root also helps with detoxification.
- The root is used for digestive problems, loss of appetite, liver problems, and diabetes.
- It also helps with rheumatic diseases, high cholesterol, and, because of its diuretic effect, also with urinary tract infections.
- Two special substances in the dandelion root
In addition to a number of other valuable ingredients, the dandelion root contains inulin, prebiotic dietary fiber, and taraxacum, a bitter substance.
Inulin from the dandelion root – for constipation and diabetes
Inulin serves the plant as an energy reserve. For humans, inulin is a dietary fiber because it cannot be utilized by the human digestive system. However, the undigested carbohydrate chains of inulin in the intestine serve as food for bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria and thus act as a prebiotic.
If the beneficial intestinal bacteria are fed well, they multiply and an intact microflora in the intestine is ensured. A healthy intestinal flora, in turn, is an important prerequisite for well-being.
Inulin also activates digestion and has been shown to lower blood sugar levels. That is why the dandelion root can be used to treat constipation and is particularly interesting for diabetics.
In autumn, the inulin content in dandelion root reaches a staggering 40% and drops to around 2% by spring. Because of the inulin, harvesting from August to November makes sense, but spring yields also have their advantages. Because in the spring before the flowering period there is a particularly large amount of taraxacum in the plant roots.
Taraxacum from the dandelion root – a digestive aid
Taraxacum is a bitter substance that is mainly found in plants from the dandelion genus (Taraxacum). It is mainly found in the root, but also in the milky sap of the plant stem.
With modern nutrition, we take in much less bitter substances than would be good for us, because bitter substances are largely bred out of fruit and vegetables or removed during the industrial processing of food. Plants containing bitter substances, such as dandelion, should therefore be actively integrated into the diet.
Bitter substances such as taraxacum help with flatulence, constipation, loss of appetite, and stomach problems such as a feeling of fullness or heartburn. The dandelion root is therefore a beneficial home remedy for many digestive problems.
Dandelion root for liver cleansing
Dandelion root is great for a liver to cleanse. Taraxacum gently stimulates the liver and bile flow. It activates the production of bile, which leads to improved fat metabolism and prevents the formation of gallstones. The liver is supported in the elimination of pollutants and promoted regeneration. A dandelion root extract is therefore ideal for detoxification.
Dandelion Root Extract in Science
The dandelion root is used in scientific studies in the form of dandelion root extracts. Extracts have the advantage that, firstly, they contain the active ingredients in higher doses, secondly, they can be dosed and administered more easily (than e.g. dandelion root vegetables) and thirdly, they are often standardized, i.e. they contain guaranteed amounts of active ingredients, which makes it easier to check their effectiveness.
Dandelion root extract for the liver
The journal Food and Chemical Toxicology published a Korean study in 2010 that showed dandelion root extract (in mice) may protect the liver from alcohol-related damage.
The extract was also able to protect against radioactive radiation, as studies on rats showed. Compared to the control group that did not receive dandelion root extract during radioactive irradiation, the animals that received the extract experienced significantly less tissue damage.
Even in the case of existing cirrhosis of the liver (also in animals), therapy with dandelion root extract was able to improve the liver values. Liver cirrhosis is associated with chronic liver failure and usually occurs after years of alcohol abuse.
Dandelion root extract in cancer therapy
Cell and animal studies indicate that dandelion root extract may be an appropriate adjunct to cancer therapy. If you add dandelion root extract to colon cancer cells, stomach cancer cells, blood cancer cells, or even pancreatic cancer cells, the extract inhibits the growth of the cancer cells.
The so-called apoptosis was also reactivated by the extract. Apoptosis is a cell’s suicide program that kicks in whenever the cell is old or diseased. With cancer, this program is no longer active, so cancer keeps growing. The healing process can therefore only start again when apoptosis comes back to life.
Even animals with breast or mammary cancer showed an anti-cancer effect when animals were given dandelion root extract. Healthy body cells were not affected by the dandelion root extract.
A study from 2011 showed that dandelion root extract could even trigger apoptosis in human melanoma cells (skin cancer cells) that were already resistant to conventional medicines.
The dandelion root extract has therefore already been used successfully in cell and animal studies, but not in clinical studies with human cancer patients. If you would like to use the dandelion root extract for cancer, it can be integrated into your therapy concept (after consulting your doctor). However, you should not rely solely on the dandelion root extract as a solo therapeutic agent.
Dandelion root extract – an almost all-rounder
Heavy metals in the body can be responsible for the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Bacteria regularly mutate to become insensitive to toxic substances in their environment, so a high concentration of heavy metals in the body promotes this process. Due to the more frequent mutations, however, it is now also more likely that the bacteria will also become resistant to antibiotics.
In a Canadian study from 2020, it was observed in a cell experiment that the dandelion root extract was able to curb the ability of bacteria to mutate.
A 2010 study showed that dandelion root extract not only lowered cholesterol levels in rabbits but also mitigated the harmful effects of oxidative stress. This positive effect was also evident in the control group fed with dandelion leaf extract. This means that you can also use dandelion products made from the leaf to improve your blood lipid levels.
A similar animal study from 2015 also showed an improvement in blood lipid levels and the antioxidant effect of dandelion root extract.
So you can use the dandelion root in the kitchen
The dandelion root is a real all-rounder in the kitchen. Once the root has been dug up, nothing stands in the way of experimentation.
Dandelion root as a vegetable
The root can be added raw to the smoothie or thinly sliced to enhance the salad. In the warm kitchen, it can be used like other root vegetables. For example, they are sliced and added to the stir-fry.
Depending on the time and place of excavation, the taste varies from sweetish-bitter to slightly nutty. In order to preserve the dandelion root, it can be wonderfully dried, frozen, or preserved.
Dandelion Root Tea
The dandelion roots collected in the spring before flowering are cleaned dry (i.e. not washed), cut lengthwise into strips, and dried in a warm, airy place within a few days. The dried root strips are now durable.
Steep about 2 teaspoons per cup of these dry roots in cold water overnight. The next day you boil the tea briefly, then pour it off and drink at least three cups of it a day.
However, watch the effect. Discontinue the tea if you experience excessive dehydration. In any case, it is ideal for herbal teas to take a break after 2 weeks or to alternate with other teas.
Coffee from the dandelion root
Dandelion root is a traditional ingredient in coffee substitutes. To do this, roast the carefully washed, dried, and crushed dandelion roots in a pan (without fat).
While roasting, keep turning the root pieces to keep them from turning black. The roasted pieces can then be ground into a fine “coffee powder” in a coffee grinder.
Take about one teaspoon of dandelion root powder per cup, boil it up briefly and let it steep for half a minute (or longer – depending on your taste).
Dandelion Root Vinegar
For dandelion root vinegar, thinly slice or chop the roots. With dried pieces, a glass should be filled halfway to leave room to swell. If the root is fresh, you can fill the glass completely.
Now pour the jar with apple cider vinegar, close it and let it stand. The glass should be shaken once a day to ensure that the good nutrients in the dandelion root are optimally transferred to the vinegar.
After two weeks, pour the mixture through a sieve. The finished dandelion root vinegar can now be kept for about a year and does not even have to be refrigerated.
As a cure, for example for the liver, you can put 1-2 teaspoons of the valuable vinegar in a glass of water and drink it in the morning on an empty stomach – e.g. B. over a period of 4 weeks.
Of course, the vinegar can also be used for salad dressings or as an aperitif. To do this, take 1 teaspoon of the vinegar pure before each meal. The bitter substances it contains stimulate the digestive juices and thus ensure a noticeably more digestible food intake. In addition, vitamins and minerals contained in the meal can be better absorbed by the body.
The dandelion root when taking medication
If you take medication regularly, you should consult a doctor or alternative practitioner experienced in phytotherapy before starting a dandelion root treatment. Because dandelion root extract has a powerful effect, it may interact with certain chemical ingredients.