Dandelions are so plentiful that many a gardener has regarded them as nuisance weeds. Their bright yellow blooms appear just about everywhere from pastures and meadows to gardens and lawns. Some even manage to survive in concrete jungles, poking through cracks in the sidewalk. But in recent years dandelions have become something of a food trend, specifically dandelion root tea harvested from this super resilient weed. Why are health nuts so obsessed?
What is Dandelion Root Tea?
Dandelions is a common plant that grows throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. It does not grow in the Southern Hemisphere. Hundred of species of this potent perennial exist throughout the world. The dark brown root of the dandelion has an earthy and bitter flavor that’s reminiscent of coffee. Its similar rich flavor profile along with its numerous health benefits are part of the reason that dandelion root tea has become a popular morning beverage.
The notched edges of dandelion leaves, which are often used in salads, are revered for their health benefits because they’re high in vitamins A,B,C, and D and minerals like iron, potassium, and zinc. At the top of the stem, you’ll find the famous bright yellow flower, which opens with the sunrise in the morning and closes with the sunset.
Dandelion Root Tea Benefits
Dandelion tea has a number of medicinal purposes:
Detoxifies the liver and gallbladder.
Used as a diuretic to eliminate fluid from the body.
Improves digestion and helps to gradually reduce constipation.
A study published in the journal PLOS One, found that dandelion root could be a non-toxic and effective alternative to chemotherapy in certain patients. According to Dr. Siyaram Pandey, a biochemistry professor and author of the study, it was shocking how quickly dandelion roots killed leukemia cells in the lab.
“We dug out the dandelion root and just ground it in a home blender with water, made the extract, filtered it, tried to put it in the same petri dishes where we grow the leukemia cells, and frankly speaking I was not expecting any activity because it was so diluted,” he said in a recent Ted Talk. “Yet cancer cells started dying, and more importantly, the healthy cells were fine.”
Another study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that dandelion root extract had anti-cancer characteristics. This particular study looked at its impact on melanoma cancer cells, which tend to be resistant to chemotherapy. The authors write that it has a “natural chemotherapeutic agent that may be extended to other chemo-resistant cancer lines.”
Dandelion Tea for Weight Loss
Dandelion tea is very high in potassium giving it diuretic qualities. As a result, it can help eliminate bloating and support weight loss. According to Dr. Josh Axe, a certified nutrition specialist and expert in natural medicine, dandelion tea can also reduce fluid retention in the cells which can decrease the appearance of cellulite. Since it works on constipation, it also reduces the bloat from backed up bowels and helps get your digestive system moving, which is important for weight loss. These are just a few reasons to consider dandelion tea for weight loss.
Dandelion Tea for Detox
Dandelion tea also supports detoxification because it helps the body to produce glutathione, an antioxidant enzyme that helps the liver detox. Your body’s own production of the enzyme can decrease with age opening the door to free radicals and the damage they can do on the body’s most detoxifying organ, the liver. Starting your day with dandelion root tea is particularly helpful when you’re doing a liver detox.
The Cost of Dandelion Tea Vs. Making it at Home
The cost of dandelion tea varies widely, starting at around $6 for a small box of tea bags to nearly $30 for loose tea. If that seems a little pricey to you, don’t panic, because this health elixir can be made at home for free. Dandelions are prolific and can be found in most yards. Not to mention that making your own means your morning beverage doesn’t have to be shipped from halfway across the country. In fact, it’s completely local.
Trustworthy Brands that Sell Dandelion Tea
If you don’t feel like harvesting your own, dandelion tea can be found at your local health foods store. Loose tea is usually the least processed. Starwest Botanicals Organic Dandelion Root Loose Tea in Bulk is free of synthetic pesticides plus it doesn’t come with the waste of tea bags. However, if you’d rather have a tea bag, Traditional Medicinals Organic Roasted Dandelion Root, is easy to find and also of good quality.
How to Make Dandelion Tea
Before you start, make sure that the dandelion roots you gather have not been sprayed with any pesticides and that your soil has been tested for safety (no heavy metals, etc). Make sure you wash the dirt away from your dandelion roots and then process with a blender until finely chopped.
DIY Dandelion Root Tea
1 cup of finely chopped dandelion root
- Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F. Place dandelion roots on a cookie sheet and pop them into the oven for 2 to 3 hours until completely dry. If you have a food dehydrator, you can also use it to dry out your dandelion roots.
- Once your roots are all dried up, you may want to grind them up even more. Store in a cool, dark place.
- To make the tea, treat it like any other loose leaf, and make it in your tea press, or with a tea infuser. Add one teaspoon of tea per 8 oz. cup to a French press. Steep in hot water for 3 minutes. Garnish with raw, local honey if you wish.