You can find them just about everywhere you look in spring. Now, dandelions are popping up in skincare products more and more as we discover more about their fantastic health benefits. Read on to find out why this often-overlooked flower deserves a spot in your health and skincare routine!
What Are Dandelions?
Dandelion, also known as Taraxacum officinale, is a common perennial plant with bright yellow flowers that most consider to be a pesky weed. The plant originally came from Europe, and there are about 40 varieties worldwide.
Chances are you’ve seen a dandelion or two in your lifetime and have maybe even blown on one of its white, pillowy, seed-filled tops in the hopes of making all your wishes come true. But if you’re a lawn lover, now’s that time of year you’re cringing as you find them sprouting up everywhere you don’t want them to be.
This ubiquitous perky plant has earned many endearing names, like lion’s teeth (dent-de-lion in French), puffball, monk’s head, and piss-a-bed (for its diuretic effect). Whatever you prefer to call it, it seems Mother Nature wants us to notice it, and for good reason.
History and Traditional Use of Dandelion
The dandelion has long been used for a wide range of culinary and health purposes. Many historical cultures have eaten dandelions for their fabulous nutrition and stellar health benefits. The plant is also a star in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Native American medicine, and European herbal medicine for its healing prowess.
As a culinary delight, the roots, flowers and leaves offer a nourishing and tasty experience. Dandelion root makes a wonderful, slightly bitter tea. The brightly colored flowers are often added to salads, sandwiches and baked goods for a boost of flavor. And the leaves are one of the less common greens at the health food store that packs a real punch in the nutrition department.
In traditional medicine, dandelion is well-known for its ability to support liver detoxification, digestive health, and urinary tract function. Research over the years has only added to the evidence of dandelion’s remarkable healing abilities.
Other valuable uses for dandelion include skin and heart health, dyes for clothing, and to make wine.
Health Benefits of Dandelion
Dandelions are linked to a long list of health benefits when eaten or taken in supplement form. Much of their healing power comes from an abundance of active plant compounds, in addition to vitamins A, C, E, and K, fiber, iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Here are a few reasons to add dandelions to a healthy lifestyle.
Botanical compounds called polyphenols may be behind dandelion’s ability to reduce inflammation in your body.
Dandelion root extract has been shown in studies to slow the growth of cancer cells in breast, liver, colon and stomach tissue in test tubes. It hasn’t been tested on human subjects, though.
Lower blood pressure
Because it has diuretic properties and contains potassium, dandelion may help reduce blood pressure.
Help manage blood sugar
Dandelion has shown promise in studies to help control blood sugar in Type 2 Diabetes.
Support liver health
Protective effects against liver disease and damage have been seen in studies with dandelion root extract.
Due to evidence of antimicrobial and antiviral activity, dandelion may boost your overall immunity.
Dandelion Benefits for Your Skin
With antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and antibacterial compounds, dandelion is not only great for your insides but also quite useful for a healthy glow on the outside. With so many things going for it, dandelion is helpful for just about every skin type and issue!
Here’s a list of skin issues dandelion can help resolve.
Dandelion is thought to be an effective acne treatment, thanks to the plant’s powerful ability to fight inflammation and kill bacteria. It makes an excellent ingredient for clearing out pores and preventing breakouts.
Signs of aging
The slowing down of collagen production leads to common signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines and saggy skin. Dandelion may increase our natural ability to produce collagen with the help of antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, returning skin to a more youthful state.
Protection from UV rays
Leaf and flower extracts of dandelion have been shown in this study to be protective against sun damage to skin cells from UVB rays. Less damage from photoaging means younger-looking skin!
Anti-inflammatory plant botanicals found in dandelion may also help soothe conditions like eczema, psoriasis, rashes and other sensitivities.
With plenty of vitamin C and active botanicals that prevent sun damage, dandelion can help reduce hyperpigmentation of the skin. This is how the plant can lighten dark spots and promote an even skin tone overall.
Though it’s unclear exactly how it works, dandelion is an excellent hydrator for the skin, according to the same study on collagen production.
Potential Reactions to Dandelion
Just like with most plants, it’s possible to have a reaction to dandelion. This is especially true if you are allergic to ragweed, marigolds, daisies, sunflowers or other related plants. Be cautious if you’re using dandelion for the first time, and take note of any unpleasant reactions.
Also, always check with your doctor first if you plan to take dandelion as a supplement in case it could react with other medications you’re taking.
A Final Note About Dandelions…
Next time you see a dandelion blooming in the grass, don’t think of it as an unwelcome weed. Mother Nature put it there for a reason, so remember all the wholesome goodness it has to offer. If you’re tempted to pick your own dandelions and eat them or use them in DIY skincare, you can do so, but make sure you know whether any harmful chemicals were used on them first. You can always find recipes using dandelions in so many creative ways. Happy harvesting!