Dandelion – health properties and application

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), otherwise common dandelion or popular milkweed is a widespread perennial from the Asteraceae family. Nuns is a plant inhabiting areas of Europe, Asia and North Africa. The common occurrence of dandelion caused that it is often regarded as a troublesome weed occurring in gardens, on sidewalks and fields. However, the healing and health-promoting effect of dandelion has been more and more appreciated for centuries and is used in natural medicine and cosmetology. 

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The first information about the medicinal use of dandelion is recorded in X and XI. Arab doctors used dandelion to treat liver and spleen diseases. In North America, infusions were made from nuns that were given to patients to treat kidney disease, heartburn and indigestion. In Turkey, the use of dandelion is often used as a laxative, diuretic and hypoglycaemic agent. In the sixteenth century German physician Leonnhard Fuchs described for the first time the action of a dandelion in the treatment of diarrhea, diseases of the spleen, liver and gout. Dandelion is a plant containing a number of compounds, thanks to which it owes its healing and therapeutic antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. Due to the high nutritional value is also used in gastronomy, and its nurturing properties are used in cosmetology. So what makes dandelion more and more popular? What are its healing properties and where and in what forms can it be found? 

The content of active substances in the dandelion 

The dandelion contains a number of substances such as phenols, terpenes, proteins, unsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals. The leaves of the dandelion contain mainly polyphenols, coumarins, sesquiterpene lactones and flavonoids, as well as vitamin A, the content of which is higher than in the carrot root. Green leaves also contain large amounts of vitamin C, B vitamins (B1, B2, B6), vitamin E, vitamin K1, calcium, iron, manganese, silicon and magnesium salts. Other compounds contained in the nun are free sterols (sitosteryna, fitosterine) and β-amirine, or taraksasterol. The dandelion root contains inulin and phenolic acids. The other ingredients contained in the dandelion are polysaccharides and small amounts of pectin, resins and mucus. 

Medicinal properties of the dandelion 

Antioxidant effect 

The antioxidant properties of the dandelion are due to the presence of a large amount of polyphenolic compounds. Research has shown that the infusion of medical leaves inhibits the formation of free radicals. The protective effect of infusions from the dandelion on the liver cells has also been demonstrated thanks to the ability to inhibit oxidative stress. 

Anti-cancer effect 

Studies have shown that the extract from the roots and leaves of the dandelion has inhibited the invasion of breast and prostate cancer cells. Research confirms that dandelion extracts affect the decrease in the number of cancer cells in the body. Extracts from the dandelion root cause apoptosis (death) of skin cancer cells. 

Hypolipidemic effect (lipid-lowering) 

Research has shown that extracts from dandelion leaves and roots affect the prevention of diseases caused by excessive consumption of cholesterol (coronary disease, atherosclerosis). Extracts from the dandelion reduce the level of total cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Studies have also shown that they inhibit fat cell formation processes and help reduce fat accumulation in mature fat cells. 

Antibacterial effect 

Studies have shown that the active substances contained in the active nuns show antimicrobial activity. Inhibition of bacteria such as Salmonella typhi, Escherichia coli, Streptococcus aureus has been confirmed. The action inhibiting the growth of bacteria gives the possibility of using dandelion preparations in auxiliary antibiotic therapy. 

Medicinal use of a dandelion 

Dandelion has a cholagogic and choleretic effect. Regular drinking of dandelion infusions improves digestion, and root juice helps in disorders of liver function and improves the functioning of the gall bladder. It also has a laxative effect. 

Infusion of dandelion leaves used in edema and renal failure allows to relieve the symptoms of diseases. It is used as an aid in the treatment of kidney stones and bladder diseases. 

A syrup is prepared from the flowers of the dandelion, which, with its consistency and smell, resembles honey. It contains vitamins A, C and B vitamins as well as iron, magnesium and silicon. It lowers the level of total cholesterol in the blood and improves the lipid profile. It can be used as an aid in the treatment of colds and coughs. It strengthens the immune system and has antidiabetic and anticancer properties. 

Preparations with dandelion 

There are many preparations on the market, which can contain dried leaves and dandelion root. The most popular are ready-to-brew herbal teas. Dietary supplements and syrups with dandelion extract can be found in pharmacies and green food stores. 

Dandelion in gastronomy 

The dandelion flowers are used to prepare wines, desserts and the aforementioned syrup. In France, the leaves of nuns are a well-known and popular addition to salads, and in the USA a decaffeinated substitute for coffee and tea is prepared from the roots of a dandelion. Not very popular, and valuable dandelion honey, also known as May honey, is produced by sours from nectar obtained from dandelion. 

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