When Should You Take Dandelion Root?
Dandelion plants are common and are usually considered weeds, though the leaves can be eaten and the roots can be used as a coffee substitute. Dandelion roots and leaves have been used as an herbal remedy for centuries to treat a variety of health issues, such as liver, kidney and gallbladder problems. Learn more about dandelion root benefits, side effects, and potential uses.
While there’s little scientific proof that dandelion root has significant health benefits for humans, some herbalists have found that dandelion root’s bitter compounds are beneficial for some mild conditions. These include:
- Constipation: Dandelion root and leaves stimulate the digestive system and can act as a mild laxative.
- Sluggish liver function: Dandelion root for liver function begins in the gallbladder, with an increase in bile production. This stimulates the flow of bile from the liver. For this reason, dandelion root may be beneficial for people with alcohol-related liver damage. Dandelion root also reduces harmful lipid production within the liver and may help people dealing with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
- Metabolism: As more bile is produced, the metabolism of fat and cholesterol may improve. Because of this, some people take dandelion root for weight loss.
Scientific studies in animals have shown other potential uses for dandelion, but researchers have not yet proven the same results in humans. Additionally, some of the animal studies have had mixed results on the efficacy of dandelion on health. These studies have included dandelion for uses such as:
- Controlling blood sugar levels
- Fighting inflammation
- Fighting oxidative stress
- Improving immune system function
- Lowering total cholesterol and triglycerides
- Preventing blood clots
- Raising HDL (good) cholesterol
- Reducing water retention
Dandelion root is generally considered safe. Before using dandelion root as an herbal remedy, be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist to make sure it won’t interact with any medications or other supplements you’re taking.
Some potential dandelion root side effects include:
- Allergic reaction, particularly for people who are allergic to ragweed, mums, marigold, chamomile, yarrow, daisies or iodine
- Mouth sores
- Skin irritation
Researchers have noted that dandelion should not be thought of as medicine, but rather dandelion root, leaves and extracts may be considered complementary treatments under a doctor’s supervision.
In addition to mild side effects, dandelion has the potential to have harmful interactions. Some of these interactions may include:
- If you have gallstones or problems with your gallbladder or kidneys, don’t use dandelion without talking with your doctor.
- Dandelion may increase the risk of bleeding, especially for people who already take blood thinners.
- Because dandelion can act as a diuretic to reduce water retention, some medications may not stay in your body long enough.
- If you’re already on a diuretic, taking dandelion could raise your chance of an electrolyte imbalance.
- Dandelion may increase the side effects of lithium.
- For people taking diabetes medication, dandelion could increase the risk of low blood sugar.
Dandelion can be used as a tincture, tea, pill or liquid extract. Dandelion tea has been shown to have antioxidant properties, protecting certain cells against harmful free radicals.