Dandelion Tea Guide: Health Benefits, Side Effects, and Flavor Profile
What most people find to be an annoying weed, can actually be a healthy beverage and tasty tea. Dandelions crop up in gardens across the globe every springtime and last throughout the summer. Their vibrant yellow petals are easy to spot and their seed pods are often used to make wishes. The plants are similar in appearance to chamomile and marigold flowers. These plants offer potent health benefits when consumed as food or in beverages like tea.
We've put together a list of dandelion tea benefits that will inspire you to brew a cup of this vibrant tea. Whether you like light floral flavor or prefer strong coffee-like tastes, dandelion tea has something to offer everyone.
What Is Dandelion Tea?
Dandelion tea is an herbal tea made from various plant parts of the dandelion plant known as Taraxacum officinale. There are several different types of dandelion tea depending on whether the tea is made from the dandelion leaves, dandelion flowers, or dandelion roots. One of the most common is known as roasted dandelion root tea or "dandelion coffee". The tea gets its name from the dark color of the roasted root, which resembles coffee beans. This type of dandelion tea is often used as a coffee substitute.
While the plant is considered a pesky weed, dandelion greens and tea made from other dandelion parts offers several potential health benefits. The tea is naturally caffeine-free and can be enjoyed any time of the day without affecting natural sleep cycles.
Dandelion tea made from flower petals offers a delicate, sweet taste. Roasted dandelion root teas offer bolder flavor with smoky and toasty notes that are paired with robust flavor. Dandelion leaf teas offer an earthy and herbaceous flavor that can have astringent notes.
Health Benefits of Dandelion Tea
1. May Fight Infections
Dandelion tea may help to fight off infections and boost the immune system thanks to vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants present in the plants. Antioxidants are powerful compounds that can help eliminate free radicals.
Free radicals are highly reactive cells that cause deterioration in normal cellular processes. These agents have been linked to a host of ailments including heart disease, certain types of cancer, and signs of aging. Antioxidants work to flush these reactive cells from the human body to prevent oxidative stress — the process that breaks down cells.
Dandelion tea also boasts diuretic properties, which can help shorten the duration of an infection. A study published in Current Therapeutic Research found that a combination of dandelion and uva ursi helped to prevent recurrent urinary tract infections (1).
2. May Aid Digestion
Drinking dandelion tea may help to streamline the digestive system, though studies on the subject are scarce. In herbal medicine, dandelions have been used to treat nausea and digestive ailments such as upset stomach and stomach cramps. Experts think the anti-inflammatory properties of this tea are responsible for decreasing pain and soothing irritated stomach muscles.
Drinking dandelion tea may also help to improve liver function, prevent liver disease, and streamline digestion. Research shows that dandelion tea may help to increase the flow of bile, thus helping the body break down foods into nutrients more easily (2).
3. May Aid Weight Loss
Dandelion tea is a naturally calorie-free beverage. It's a great replacement for sugar-laden drinks that can pack on the pounds. Plus, it's tastier than plain old water so you're more likely to drink it and stay hydrated, which can help you power through workouts.
One small study also showed that dandelion tea may help decrease weight loss on a chemical level. The research was published in Nutrition Research and Practice and involved a comparison between dandelion extract and Orlistat — a common weight loss medication — on mice.
Researchers found that dandelion extract directly affected an enzyme known for dietary fat digestion. The researchers found that dandelion extract was as effective as Orlistat, though more human and animal studies are needed to confirm the efficacy in humans (3).
Dandelion tea is a natural diuretic, which means it can help to decrease water weight (4). The natural diuretic effect helps to detox the body and flush toxins through urination. These effects may help to treat or ease symptoms associated with UTI. While this doesn't equate to long term weight loss, it may help you slim down before a big event by reducing bloating and working as a mild laxative.
4. Heart Health
Dandelion tea may be beneficial for heart health thanks to natural anti-inflammatory properties. Dandelion tea works gently to decrease inflammation, which can improve blood circulation. This may help to decrease high blood pressure and prevent the risk of serious heart disease including blood clots and heart attacks.
5. Cancer Benefits
In recent years, researchers have begun examining the effects of a host of natural ingredients to fight cancer. Recent research on the use of dandelion tea and dandelion extracts shows some potential benefits.
A study published in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine examined the effects of dandelion root extract on human melanoma cells. Researchers found that dandelion root extract induces apoptosis — cell death — of skin cancer cells (5). It's important to note that the research was conducted in a laboratory setting and was not a human trial. A second study published in Pancreas found that dandelion root extract induced apoptosis in pancreatic cancer cells (6). More research on the cancer benefits of dandelions is warranted, but early results are promising.
6. May Aid The Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes is a disease that affects millions of Americans. It's typically characterized by decreased production or tolerance of insulin levels. A study published in the review of Diabetic Studies examined the effects of dandelion on diabetes. Researchers found that dandelions helped to modulate blood sugar levels and improved insulin tolerance (7).
7. Packed With Vitamins
Dandelions contain vitamins A, K, and minerals that are beneficial for human health. Vitamin A is beneficial for vision, the immune system, and healthy cell growth. Known as a retinoid, it's also beneficial for skin health and premature aging (8). Vitamin K is responsible for a host of vital body processes. It's essential to blood clotting, calcium regulation, and bone health (9). A tincture of dandelion flowers, roots, or leaves may be beneficial thanks to its vitamin content.
Side Effects of Dandelion Tea
If you are allergic to ragweed, you may also experience an allergic reaction to dandelion tea. Avoid drinking this tea if you have allergies to the dandelion plant or related plants including daisies and chrysanthemums. Stop use immediately and contact a healthcare professional if you experience symptoms including skin rash, difficulty breathing, and itchy throat.
Dandelions may inhibit the absorption of certain antibiotics, thus effectively decreasing the effectiveness of the medications. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking dandelion if you are on antibiotics including Cipro and norfloxacin. People who have kidney problems or take medications for kidney-related disease should consult a physician or nutritionist before using dandelion tea.
Dandelion may also interfere with some diuretic medications and cause other side effects. The main thing to watch out for is potassium content. Some diuretic medications contain potassium, which when taken with dandelion tea, may reach levels that are unhealthy in the human body. Always talk to your doctor before using herbal medicine or teas if you take any medications.
A significant increase in dandelion tea consumption in conjunction with liver medications may also decrease the effectiveness of those medications. Consume this tea in moderation and double check that the tea won't interact with your medications.
How to Brew Dandelion Tea
The process for brewing dandelion tea differs depending on which type of dandelion tea you are making. You can check out our guide on how to brew dandelion tea for all the details.
In general, dandelion tea should be brewed using hot water or boiling water. It's also best to brew using loose leaves, fresh flowers, or dried roots rather than tea bags. Leaves and flowers should steep for about 5 to 10 minutes while roots are best between 6-8 minutes.
Make sure to use filtered water or spring water to develop the best quality flavors. Look for organic dandelion tea from your favorite tea shop or at a health food store. Organic teas do not contain any chemicals or fillers that can alter the flavor and health qualities of natural dandelion tea.
Sunny and Bright Dandelion Tea
Dandelion tea is a delicious herbal tea that can bring sunshine into your world. The vibrant flowers look stunning as they brew in hot water and infuse endless health benefits. You can also opt for dandelion leaf or root teas if you prefer stronger flavors. Dandelion tea can also be blended with other teas such as turmeric or green tea to create new flavors. Pour yourself a delicious cup of dandelion tea and soak in the health benefits.