Dandelion: The Little Weed With 6 Big Benefits for Your Liver!
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Look outside your front door in the spring and summer and odds are you’ll see bright yellow flowers popping up alongside that front lawn. If you’re like most people, you consider them pesky weeds that need to be annihilated as quickly and thoroughly as possible. But did you know know that those yellow flowers and the stubborn plants they bloom from are actually strong healing medicine? In fact, dandelion is one of the most powerful herbs for liver detoxification.
Read on to discover 6 important ways that dandelion supports liver health that may make you think twice about pulling them up (and cursing them out) the next time they appear on your lawn!
Dandelion Liver Detoxification
Your liver is your main organ for detoxification and your body’s primary “filter.” While it only weighs about a pound, it’s vital to your health and you’re not able to survive for long without it .
Without a well-functioning liver, your body isn’t able to break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins nor is it able to get rid of pathogenic microbes and other toxins in the blood. The liver is the “metabolic center” of any living organism and is actually controlled by the central nervous system .
Dandelion Is One of the World’s Healthiest Foods
A 2014 study conducted by William Paterson University in New Jersey and supported by the Centers for Disease control ranked dandelion as one of the world’s healthiest foods . One of the big reasons for this recognition is because of the ways that dandelion supports the liver.
Dandelion, or Taraxacum officinale, has been used for liver support and in other ways for thousands of years, especially by native cultures in North America, where it grows readily. Evidence of dandelion’s ongoing use can also be seen in China, Africa, and Western Europe .
So, just what is it that makes dandelion so good for the liver? The answer is as simple as the dandelion is prolific. It’s chock full of common yet essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that help to flush the liver, cleanse it, and encourage it to work at full capacity.
6 Ways Dandelion Benefits Liver Function
The liver is responsible for flushing out toxins in the body. But if it becomes overburdened, it can become a source of toxins as well. Toxic overload occurs when the liver works too hard for too long or becomes overwhelmed by too many toxins all at once.
Then the liver can become sluggish or stop working altogether, leading to a higher risk of common conditions such as kidney stones, chronic disease, or worse.
Enter the humble dandelion, which has the ability to “kickstart” the liver and help get it back in shape through several mechanisms.
#1. Dandelion’s bitter taste “kickstarts” liver function
The first way it does this is through the way it tastes. Dandelion is called a “bitter” and if you’ve ever tasted a raw dandelion leaf, then you know why.
All bitter herbs will kick in what is known as the “bitter reflex” in the body once ingested . The unique phytonutrients in bitters, including certain alkaloids and sesquiterpenes, then spring into action and signal the digestive system to secrete gastric acids.
This stimulates digestive function and, in turn, all the systems connected to the gastrointestinal system, including all organs associated with the detoxification system. This includes the:
#2. Dandelion helps bile flow
Dandelion root contains high amounts of a substance called kynurenic acid. This is an amino acid that is key for bile production. In fact, a 2011 study conducted by the Institute of Agricultural Medicine in Lublin, Poland, analyzed dozens of medicinal herbs to discover the amounts of kynurenic acid in them.
Researchers found that the highest amounts were in dandelion . Another study conducted by an Italian team and published in the International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology found that dandelion was amongst a group of healing herbs that can be highly beneficial for the gallbladder for this same reason . Kynurenic acid is also known for the support it can give to the digestive system.
#3. Dandelion helps the liver to break down and absorb minerals
Dandelion greens are a great source of key minerals, including calcium and potassium. Dandelion leaves also have high levels of vitamin A, K, and various forms of B vitamins, including folate.
Another vitamin dandelion is high in is vitamin C. Vitamin C is an important liver helper because it can assist in the breakdown of key minerals like iron. It’s also a key substance for protein synthesis and is a powerful antioxidant.
A 2003 in vivo investigation conducted by the University of São Paulo in Brazil found that vitamin C, as well as vitamin E, can help prevent and even reverse Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease .
#4. Dandelion is a diuretic
Flavonoids in dandelion promote increased urination, which can assist the liver in cleansing toxins out of the body at a more rapid rate . This is especially beneficial when the liver needs to flush out toxins quickly, like in the case of food poisoning. Traditional cultures have used dandelion in this way for centuries.
#5. Dandelion purifies the blood
Dandelion also supports the liver by providing first-layer support for blood detoxification. It’s a great preventive for jaundice, gentle support for those who have hepatitis, and can also help with anemia since it can encourage iron absorption.
Another way that dandelion cleanses blood is by working with the pancreas to remove excess sugars. This has the added advantage of balancing blood sugar as well.
A 2005 study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found that dandelion may also be of benefit for those with inflammatory pancreatitis . Dandelion’s blood cleansing properties can also increase balanced energy overall, according to the experts .
#6. Dandelion protects against drug toxicity
Finally, several studies have found that dandelion can help protect the liver from toxic overburden caused by common over-the-counter and prescription drugs. A 2012 Brazilian study was one of the first to discover the connection .
A 2017 Chinese investigation added more evidence. This study, which was published in the journal Molecules, found that it is the antioxidant properties of polysaccharides in dandelion that have the ability to counteract liver toxicity brought on by acetaminophen use .
Dandelion: A Great Liver Cleanse and More!
Remember that all the organs in your body are designed to do their job with ultimate efficiency if we can provide them with the right environment to do so. Getting dandelions in your diet in the form of tea, wild greens, or supplement form helps your liver to get back online and do its job with the greatest efficiency possible.
By now you hopefully have a greater appreciation for the common, everyday dandelion! If you have a source of clean dandelions not exposed to pesticides or road pollution, you can use all parts of the dandelion (roots, leaves, and flowers) in a wide variety of ways ranging from salads to teas.
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Your liver is your main organ for detoxification and your body’s primary filter.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is one of the most powerful herbs for liver detoxification and is ranked as one of the world’s healthiest foods.
Dandelion is what’s known as a “bitter.” All bitters stimulate digestive function, and the systems connected to the gastrointestinal system, including the organs of detoxification.
Dandelion root is beneficial for the gallbladder as it contains high amounts of kynurenic acid, an amino acid that is key for bile production.
Dandelion greens are a great source of nutrients, including calcium and potassium. Dandelion leaves also have high levels of vitamin A, C, K, and various forms of B vitamins, including folate.
Flavonoids in dandelion promote increased urination, which can help cleanse toxins out of the body at a faster rate. It can also help protect the liver from toxic overburden caused by common over-the-counter and prescription drugs.