Many people find dandelions to be a nuisance when they pop up in their yard—since many still consider the bright yellow flowers weeds—however, it’s believed that dandelion benefits everything from gut health to your immune system. In fact, many say that the flower is bursting with nutritional benefits when added to anything from salads to teas.
“Dandelion tea, made from the dandelion root, is considered an ancient herbal medicine and comes with many health benefits,” explains Nicole Ritieni R.N. working on the clinical team at New York Center for Innovative Medicine. The warm drink is believed to have the ability to improve everything from bloating to stress levels when sipped with regularity.
That being said, the tasty tea isn’t for everyone. People with ragweed allergies should avoid the beverage or check with their healthcare provider before adding it to their diet, according to Ritieni, since the plant can trigger a reaction. “Also, individuals on certain medications—especially diuretic medications—and those on medications affecting their kidney function, or people taking certain antibiotics, should discuss with their health care provider if adding dandelion root is safe and appropriate.”
Additionally, you should consult with your doctor if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding before trying to harness the power of the herbal beverage.
Ahead, explore the many benefits of dandelion.
1. Supports liver health
Sipping dandelion tea on a daily basis can become a new habit that helps your body’s innate detoxification process, according to Ritieni. “It has [been] shown to support and maintain liver health, which supports the process of releasing toxins.”
Janette Nesheiwat, M.D., a New York City-based family and ER medicine practitioner, says the tea can help enhance liver function. “Basically, it helps replenish and rejuvenate our body in the detoxification process,” she says. “There are enzymes and the tea helps to accelerate and strengthen the metabolism of the liver.”
2. Improves cellular health
Ryan Andrews, R.D., principal nutritionist and adviser for Precision Nutrition says that dandelion tea may also be able to help improve your health at the microscopic level. “The antioxidant effects of dandelion may offer widespread benefits to cellular health.” Antioxidants are believed to protect your cells from something called free radicals, which have been linked to everything from heart disease to cancer.
3. Reduces Inflammation
Because inflammation can play a major role in many ailments and diseases, Ritieni says drinking dandelion tea can not only help reduce the symptoms of certain diseases, but it can also generally boost your health for the better. In 2012, a study found that the plants contained a variety of phytochemicals that offered anti-inflammatory benefits.
4. Protects against illness
While (almost) nothing can fully prevent you from getting sick, Andrews says that dandelion extracts may contain some mild antiviral properties. These antivirals may go a long way in boosting your immune system, which means your morning cup of tea might be even better at keeping the doctor away than that daily apple!
5. Improves gut health
While dandelion tea is believed to offer a lot of benefits, one of the often-overlooked ones is how it makes it easier for your body to receive all the nutrients it needs. Ritieni says that an added benefit of the tea may be the way that it soothes the stomach lining, helping your gut to absorb more minerals. “The dandelion plant has also been found to increase the body’s natural probiotic properties by boosting a beneficial bacteria called lactobacillus,” she says.
6. May help stabilize blood sugars
According to Ritieni, some studies—like this one from 2016—look at the effects of dandelion in those with type 2 diabetes—have shown that dandelion tea may help to moderate or regulate blood sugar levels and to improve insulin tolerance. If you’re looking to keep your blood sugar in check, dandelion tea may offer the added boost you’ve been looking for. Dr. Nesheiwat agrees. “It’s been shown to reduce blood sugar,” she says. However, she warns, “It’s not a substitute for your medicine, but sometimes you can reduce the amount of medicine you take if you incorporate it into your diet.” Before you change your medication regimen, though, she advises speaking with your doctor.
7. Keeps kidney stones at bay
Another potential perk of sipping on the herbal tea is the prevention of kidney stone formation. “Dandelion might help reduce crystal deposition in the urinary tract,” explains Andrews. Dandelion tea is believed to reduce your risk of kidney stones by keeping your kidneys flushed and functioning at optimal levels.
8. Battles bloat
If you’re someone who experiences excessive bloating or just looking to flush your system, dandelion tea might be exactly what you’re looking for, explains Ritieni, since it can act as a natural diuretic. “This tea can increase urination, which in turn can rid your liver and kidneys of toxins.” Although, as she mentioned before, you should avoid drinking dandelion tea if you’re already on a medication to help with this.
9. Packs a nutritional punch
Andrews says that dandelions can be the source of a variety of nutrients. “The roots and leaves of dandelion offer flavonoids, phenolic acids, vitamins, and minerals, all with widespread health effects,” he explains. To see the biggest boost in nutrition, you’d likely have to do a little more than just sip your way to health. “To get notable amounts of these nutrients, dandelion greens would need to be consumed whole.”
The roots are also brimming with soluble fiber, which aids in balancing gut bacteria. Robert Danoff, D.O., M.S., a family physician and program director of The Family Practice Residency at Aria Health in Langhorne, PA, says that while dandelions are rich in important vitamins and nutrients, not everyone can benefit from them in the same way. For example, for those with ragweed pollen allergies and oral allergy syndrome, consuming dandelion greens or tea can trigger an allergic response. And, people taking a coumadin or other blood thinners, the vitamin K in the dandelion greens and tea may decrease the effectiveness of the medication. So it’s important to talk to your doctor to make sure it doesn’t contraindicate any other drugs you're taking.
10. Helps treat urinary tract infections
If you’ve ever had to take a powerful antibiotic for a urinary tract infection (UTI), you know that the effectiveness of treatment could wane overtime, especially if the bacteria becomes resistant to the medication.
To help with this, Dr. Nesheiwat recommends supplementing your treatment with dandelion tea to help relieve UTI symptoms and prevent future infection. “Dandelion tea contains an enzyme—a chemical compound that can eliminate certain bacteria such as E.coli, which is the most common cause of urinary tract infections,” she says. “It also acts as a diuretic, which helps liver and kidney flush out the body.” A 2018 study from Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggests that dandelion extracts could be used in developing more effective treatments for UTIs, but more scientific research is needed.
11. May aid in weight loss
Many teatoxes include dandelion because of its detoxing properties. Dr. Nesheiwat says it may actually aid in burning more fat. “It helps burn calories by increasing the process of breaking down the fat in the liver,” she says. But Dr. Danoff says that while dandelion can act as a mild diuretic, “There have been minimal studies and more needs to be completed prior to any definitive conclusions.” It’s also important to note that teatox products can also mess with your gut and cause an upset stomach, diarrhea, and cramping. The bottom line is there isn’t a magic bullet for losing weight, but introducing tea into a healthy diet can be helpful.
You can buy dandelion tea at any grocery or health food store, but here are some products you can pick up.