Dandelion Taraxacum officinale is high in vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc. For comparison, spinach contains around 9,000 – 9,500 IU of vitamin A per 100g.
However, dandelion contains 10,000-14,000 IU per 100g.
Dandelion can be quite bitter but the young leaves, added in moderation to a salad provide a delicious piquancy. Fantastic in a juice mixed with carrot and ginger, it also makes a cleansing, diuretic tea mixed – try a combination of dandelion leaf Taraxacum officinale, nettle urtica dioica and cleavers Galium aparine.
For people trying to lose weight, a diuretic is useful. And where it is complicated by low thyroid function or oedema, where potassium is key, dandelion comes into its own. It is very high in natural potassium. This certainly gives it an advantage over many pharmaceutical diuretics which can cause potassium depletion as a side-effect. (Dangerous where they are being used in combination with heart medications such as digitalis and other cardiac glucosides.) Potassium is a key mineral in preventing oedema – when water is retained in your body’s cells. While a certain amount of water retention is normal, and fluctuates in women at certain times of the month, permanent oedema is not healthy. If you get indentations from your socks, for example, that are still there after your socks have been off for a while, you may have oedema. Potassium also needs zinc to work and handily, dandelion also contains a good amount of zinc too.
Dandelion also protects the liver – especially against the hepatotoxic effect of drugs like paracetamol (Colle et al, 2012) and liver damage from alcoholism (You et al, 2010). So if you like a bottle of wine in the evening, start the day with dandleion tea!
Colle D, Arantes LP, Gubert P, da Luz SC, Athayde ML, Teixeira Rocha JB and Soares FA. (2012) Antioxidant Properties of Taraxacum officinale Leaf Extract Are Involved in the Protective Effect Against Hepatoxicity Induced by Acetaminophen in Mice. J Med Food. 2012 Mar 16. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 22424457
You Y, Yoo S, Yoon HG, Park J, Lee YH, Kim S, Oh KT, Lee J, Cho HY and Jun W. (2010) In vitro and in vivo hepatoprotective effects of the aqueous extract from Taraxacum officinale (dandelion) root against alcohol-induced oxidative stress. Food Chem Toxicol. 2010 Jun;48(6):1632-7. PMID: 20347918