Many gardeners loathe dandelions because they are some of the most notorious weeds around. However, dandelions are not just garden pests, they have medicinal and health benefits, too. Widely used as a salad green, the dandelion has roots, leaves and flowers that are an effective diuretic and liver tonic. In addition, drinking dandelion tea can aid in losing weight.
For centuries, people use dandelion as a purifying tonic. In Ancient China, dandelions enhanced the body’s defenses against upper respiratory tract infections, bronchitis, pneumonia and mastitis. In folkloric China, India and Russia, dandelion was an effective liver tonic. In the 10th century, Arab physicians relied on dandelion as a laxative, diuretic and liver tonic. In 1485, European physicians used the leaves and roots of dandelions as diuretics and treatment for gall bladder and liver diseases. During that time, people produced dandelion herbal tea from tender young dandelion leaves. Between 1831 and 1926, dandelions became part of the United States pharmacopoeia as an effective diuretic. In 1957, the United States imported more than 20 tons of dandelion leaves for medicinal purposes.
Dandelion tea comes from the roots or yellow flowers of the dandelion weed. The dandelion is a perennial, herbaceous plant with long, lanceolate leaves that have sharp teeth. The leaves grow in a basal rosette that measures 3 to 12 inches long and up to 2 inches wide. The yellow composite flowers are 1 to 2 inches wide. They grow individually on hollow flower stalks that are 2 to 18 inches tall. Each flower head consists of hundreds of tiny ray flowers.
Making Dandelion Tea
Dig up a few of the dandelion weeds, wash out any grit and soil and then cut away the foliage. Dip the roots and flower petals in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes, then drain off. Do not leave them in the pot too long if you do not like the bitter taste.
Aside from its medicinal purpose, the diuretic effects of dandelion made it effective for losing excessive body water that contribute to weight gain and premenstrual syndrome. Some herbalists recommend dandelion tea to help prevent atherosclerosis. They also suggest this tea for spring and fall tonic for patients with chronic osteoarthritis and patients with gallstones.
Jillian Michaels, an expert in weight loss management and one of the personal trainers in the hit reality show “The Biggest Loser,” recommends drinking dandelion tea to lose weight quickly. Michaels suggests getting 60 oz. of distilled or pure water, add 1 tbsp. of sugar-free cranberry juice, dip one dandelion root tea bag and add 2 tbsp. of lemon juice. Drinking 60 oz. of this mixture daily for seven days will help flush out excess water weight. You can lose 5 lbs or more if you follow this regimen.
Dandelion tea contains essential oil, inulin, levulin, choline, taraxacin, mucin, saponins, resin, fatty acids, sugars, pectin, gum and protein. In addition, dandelion tea has vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C and E. Calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, selenium, silicon and zinc are minerals found in dandelion tea.