- Dandelion tea has benefits for your digestive system, since it may help relieve bloating.
- It may also help support the health of your liver because it can increase the flow of bile.
- Dandelion tea is also rich in antioxidants and nutrients like vitamin A and K.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
Most people recognize dandelions as the yellow flowering weed that pops up in lawns and gardens. But this plant, officially known as Taraxacum officinale, has long been used in herbal medicine for its health benefits.
Dandelions are safe to consume raw, but if that doesn’t sound appealing, you can sip on dandelion tea. Dandelion tea is most often made from the roasted root, but sometimes the whole flower as well, says Jenelle Kim, a doctor of Chinese medicine, certified herbalist, and founder of JBK Wellness Labs.
Despite dandelion’s longstanding use in herbal medicine, many of the studies so far have been conducted in animals, not people. Research involving humans is still emerging, but here’s what the science says so far about the health benefits of dandelion tea.
1. Relieves bloating
Dandelion tea acts as a natural diuretic, Kim says, meaning it increases urination, which can help reduce water weight.
Because diuretics help remove excess liquid from your body, dandelion tea may relieve bloating, says Heather Moday, MD, a functional medicine specialist with a private practice.
More research is needed to fully support claims that dandelion tea reduces bloating, but a small 2009 study concluded it shows “promise as a diuretic.” In this study, researchers found an increased urine output among participants five hours after consuming one cup of dandelion tea.
2. Supports liver health
Dandelion tea has been used to promote liver function in holistic medicine for centuries, Kim says.
Preliminary studies show this may be due to dandelion’s ability to increase the flow of bile, which helps detox the liver and relieve symptoms of liver disease, Kim says.
Moreover, a 2017 study found that a carbohydrate present in dandelions called polysaccharides may indeed help protect the liver against disease and support overall liver function.
3. Reduces cancer risk
Dandelions contain antioxidants, including vitamin A as well as phenolic compounds and flavonoids. Together, these compounds act as free radical scavengers, Moday says, reducing oxidative stress on the body, which can lower the risk of many chronic diseases such as cancer.
“It’s believed to improve successful cell turnover and reduce the growth of cancer cells,” Kim says, but there isn’t any evidence to backup this theory yet.
Dandelion tea itself hasn’t been tested for its anti-cancer effects, but dandelion root extract has:
- A 2011 in vitro study found that dandelion root extract (DRE) killed cancerous melanoma cells while not impacting non-cancerous cells.
- A 2012 study found similar results in pancreatic cancer cells, and a 2017 study found similar results in gastric cancer cells.
4. Helps control blood sugar levels
Dandelion is rich in a soluble fiber called inulin, which can help control blood sugar spikes.
Additionally, inulin is a type of complex carbohydrate known as a fructooligosaccharide, which supports the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. A healthy gut microbiome, supported by a high-fiber diet, may help alleviate symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
A 2016 review suggested that dandelion offers “a compelling profile of bioactive components with potential anti-diabetic properties” but more research is needed.
5. May support bone health
Dandelion is rich in vitamins and minerals including calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin K, which are crucial to maintaining bone health, Moday says.
While these nutritional components are known to support bone health, there have been no human studies yet to demonstrate dandelion tea’s effects on bones.
For the most part, consuming dandelions and dandelion tea is considered safe, but there are some risks to be aware of including the following:
- Electrolyte imbalance: If you are already taking a diuretic medication, dandelion tea is not recommended as it may put you at risk of an electrolyte imbalance.
- Adverse medication interaction: Dandelions may also interact with medication, like blood thinners or lithium used to treat bipolar disorder, so always speak with your doctor before adding dandelion tea, or any supplement, to your diet, Kim says.
- Allergies: Those with ragweed allergies should also approach dandelion tea with caution, Moday says. Both dandelion and ragweed are part of the plant family called Asteraceae, so if you’re allergic to ragweed you may also experience allergy symptoms like congestion or itchy, watery eyes from dandelions as well.
How you acquire your dandelion tea may also pose certain risks. While it is possible to make your own dandelion tea at home, Kim does not recommend this.
“For most people, the biggest risk associated with drinking dandelion tea would be if they used dandelions from impure sources,” Kim says. “While the idea of going to a local park or somewhere where you’ve seen a lot of dandelions grow might seem enticing, these plants could have absorbed toxins and pesticides that would be harmful to your body if eaten. “
Instead, stick to dandelion tea sold in grocery stores, health food retailers, or online, Kim says.
Dandelions are packed with vitamins and minerals and have long been used in herbal medicine practices for its many purported health benefits, including supporting liver health and reducing cancer risk. Though research is still emerging on all of the ways dandelion tea may improve human health.
Dandelion tea may interact with certain medications or cause an allergic reaction in some people, so always consult with your doctor before trying this or any other supplement.