Although it’s often dismissed as little more than a stubborn lawn weed, dandelion has been used in many forms of traditional medicine for centuries.

While Taraxacum officinale is the most common type, many other dandelion species exist.

Not only can the leaves, roots, and flower add a pop of color to your plate, but they’re also often found in herbal teas and supplements, where they’re used as a natural remedy to support blood sugar management and boost skin, liver, and heart health.

Here are 13 potential health benefits of dandelion, along with some common risks and side effects.

From root to flower, dandelions are highly nutritious plants loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Dandelion greens can be eaten cooked or raw and are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K. They also contain vitamin E, folate, and small amounts of other B vitamins (1).

What’s more, dandelion greens provide a substantial amount of several minerals, including iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium (1).

The root of the dandelion is rich in the carbohydrate inulin, a type of soluble fiber found in plants that supports the growth and maintenance of healthy gut bacteria in your digestive tract (2).

Dandelion root is often dried and made into tea, but you can also eat it whole as you do other root vegetables.

Summary

The nutritional content of dandelion extends to all parts of the plant. Dandelion is a rich source of fiber and many vitamins and minerals.

Dandelion is full of potent antioxidants, which may explain many of its medicinal properties.

Antioxidants are compounds that help neutralize free radicals — molecules that are a product of normal metabolism but contribute to chronic disease risk if levels get too high in your body. Therefore, antioxidants are crucial for keeping your body healthy (3).

Dandelions contain high levels of the antioxidant beta carotene, which may protect against cell damage and oxidative stress (4, 5).

They’re also rich in another type of antioxidants called polyphenols, which are found mostly in the flower but occur in the roots, leaves, and stems as well (4).

Summary

Dandelions are a rich source of beta carotene and polyphenol compounds, both of which may neutralize harmful free radicals and protect against chronic disease.

Dandelion may reduce inflammation, thanks to certain compounds such as polyphenols.

Inflammation is a normal immune system response to injury or infection. However, long-term inflammation may lead to permanent damage to your body’s tissues and DNA.

Some test-tube studies note significantly reduced markers of inflammation in cells treated with compounds extracted from dandelion (6, 7).

One study in mice with inflammatory lung disease showed a significant reduction of lung inflammation in those that received dandelion (8).

Still, human research is needed.

Summary

Limited animal and test-tube research suggests that dandelion has anti-inflammatory properties, though human studies are lacking.

Chicoric and chlorogenic acid are two bioactive compounds in dandelion that may help decrease blood sugar levels.

Test-tube and animal studies show that these compounds may improve the secretion of insulin — a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels — as well as the absorption of glucose (sugar) in your muscles.

This process leads to improved insulin sensitivity and reduced blood sugar levels (9).

In some animal studies, chicoric and chlorogenic acid also limited the digestion of starchy, high carb foods, which may further contribute to dandelion’s ability to lower blood sugar levels (4).

Although these results are encouraging, more research is needed in humans.

Summary

Dandelion contains bioactive compounds that have been shown to reduce blood sugar in animal and test-tube studies. However, human research is still needed.

Some compounds in dandelion may decrease triglyceride and cholesterol levels, both of which are key risk factors for heart disease.

In one test-tube study, dandelion leaf and root extract decreased triglyceride accumulation in fat cells (10).

Similarly, a 4-week animal study showed that administering dandelion leaf extract to rats significantly reduced levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides (11).

What’s more, an older rabbit study showed that adding dandelion roots and leaves to a high cholesterol diet lowered cholesterol levels (12).

However, current research is limited to test-tube and animal studies.

Summary

Some animal studies indicate that dandelion reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but research in humans is needed.

Although some people claim that dandelion may reduce blood pressure, studies are limited.

Traditional herbal medicine uses dandelion for its diuretic effect based on the belief that it can detoxify certain organs.

In Western medicine, diuretic medications are used to rid the body of excess fluid, which may help decrease blood pressure levels (13).

One older human study found dandelion to be an effective diuretic. However, this study was brief and involved only 17 people (14).

Dandelion also contains potassium, a mineral associated with decreased blood pressure in those with previously elevated levels. Thus, this plant may have an indirect effect on blood pressure due to its potassium content (1, 15).

Notably, this effect isn’t unique to dandelion — it applies to any potassium-rich food eaten as part of a healthy diet.

Summary

Dandelion may lower blood pressure as a result of its diuretic effect and potassium content. However, very little research is available.

Some animal studies suggest that dandelion extract may protect against liver damage and disease.

In fact, one animal study found that it helped prevent liver damage in mice exposed to sodium dichromate, a compound used to induce liver injury (16).

Other animal studies have shown that dandelion extract may reduce levels of excess fat stored in the liver and safeguard against oxidative stress (4, 17).

However, human research is needed.

Summary

Animal studies indicate that dandelion may protect against liver damage, but more research is needed in humans.

Some research indicates that dandelions and their compounds may support weight control, though the data isn’t conclusive.

Some researchers suggest that dandelion’s ability to improve carbohydrate metabolism and reduce fat absorption may lead to weight loss. However, this theory has yet to be scientifically proven (18).

One study in mice also suggests that dandelion extract may aid weight management by reducing fat absorption (19).

Another study in mice found that chlorogenic acid, a compound found in dandelion, reduced body weight, decreased fat accumulation, and altered levels of certain proteins involved in weight control (20).

Still, more high quality research in humans is necessary.

Summary

Some animal studies note that dandelion compounds may support weight control, but no human studies have evaluated this effect.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing health claims about dandelion extract is its potential to prevent the growth of cancerous cells in various organ systems.

A 4-week study in rats showed that administering dandelion root extract modified specific pathways involved in suppressing the growth and spread of breast cancer cells (21).

Other test-tube studies have found that dandelion root extract may slow the growth of cancer cells in liver, colon, and stomach tissue (22, 23, 24).

These findings are encouraging, but human research is lacking.

Summary

Several test-tube studies have determined that dandelion extract may slow the growth of certain types of cancer. However, research is needed in humans.

Dandelion is often used in traditional medicine to treat constipation and improve digestive health.

One older animal study found a significant increase in the rates of stomach contractions and stomach emptying in rats treated with dandelion extract (25).

Dandelion root is also a rich source of the prebiotic fiber inulin, which has been shown to reduce constipation and promote the movement of food through the digestive system (26).

What’s more, with more than 3 grams of fiber per cooked cup (105 grams), dandelion greens may bump up your fiber intake. Fiber supports bowel regularity and protects against a variety of digestive conditions, including hemorrhoids and diverticulitis (27, 28).

Summary

Dandelion is rich in fiber and prebiotic compounds such as inulin — both of which may support bowel regularity, among other digestive benefits.

Some research indicates that dandelion may have antimicrobial and antiviral properties, which may support your body’s ability to fight infection.

Several test-tube studies have found that dandelion extract significantly reduces viruses’ ability to replicate (29, 30, 31).

Research also indicates that some active compounds in dandelion protect against various harmful bacteria (4, 32, 33).

Ultimately, more research is needed in humans.

Summary

Although research in humans is lacking, some test-tube studies suggest that dandelion has antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Animal and test-tube research notes that dandelion extract may protect against skin damage caused by sunlight, aging, and acne.

In one study, dandelion leaf and flower extracts prevented skin damage when applied just before or immediately after exposure to UVB radiation, which is the radiation you get from sunlight. Interestingly, dandelion root did not have the same effect (34).

An older test-tube study showed that dandelion root extract increased the generation of new skin cells, which may support your skin’s appearance as you age (35).

Additionally, older research indicates that dandelion extract may reduce skin inflammation and irritation while increasing hydration and collagen production. This may be useful in preventing and treating certain types of acne (36).

However, recent research on the effects of dandelion on skin health is lacking, and studies are limited to test tubes and animals.

Summary

Animal and test-tube studies suggest that dandelion may protect against skin damage caused by sun damage, aging, and acne. Further research in humans is needed.

Very little research has been conducted on dandelion’s effect on bone health, though some of its individual nutrients contribute to the maintenance of strong, healthy bones.

Dandelion greens are a good source of calcium and vitamin K, both of which play a key role in bone health (37, 38).

One small study linked an increased intake of vitamin K-rich leafy green vegetables to lower blood levels of osteocalcin, a protein found in your bones. This suggests that eating more leafy greens such as dandelion greens may help prevent bone loss (39).

Inulin, a fiber found in dandelion root, may also support healthy bones by improving digestion and gut health (40).

Additionally, some research suggests that the antioxidants in dandelion and other greens play a key role in bone health and protect against bone loss by decreasing oxidative stress (41, 42).

Summary

Research on dandelion’s effects on bone health is lacking, though some components of the plant are known to support the maintenance of strong bones.

Dandelion leaves, stems, and flowers are often consumed in their natural state and can be eaten cooked or raw. The root is usually dried, ground, and used as a tea or coffee substitute.

Dandelion is also available as a supplement in capsule, extract, or tincture form.

Currently, there are no clear dosage guidelines, as very little human research has been conducted. However, available data suggests the following dosages for different forms of dandelion (4):

  • Fresh leaves: 4–10 grams daily
  • Dried leaves: 4–10 grams daily
  • Leaf tincture: 0.4–1 teaspoon (2–5 mL) three times per day
  • Fresh leaf juice: 1 teaspoon (5 mL) twice daily
  • Fluid extract: 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 mL) daily
  • Fresh roots: 2–8 grams daily
  • Dried powder: 250–1,000 mg four times per day
Summary

No clear dosage guidelines for dandelion supplements exist, as research is limited. Various forms of dandelion may require different doses.

Dandelion plants have low toxicity and are likely safe for most people, especially when consumed as food (4).

However, keep in mind that research is still very limited and that dandelion isn’t entirely risk-free.

This plant may cause allergic reactions, particularly in people with allergies to related plants such as ragweed. Contact dermatitis may also occur in those with sensitive skin (4, 43, 44).

According to an older review, dandelion may also interact with medications, including certain types of antibiotics, anticoagulants, and blood sugar drugs. If you’re taking any prescription medications, be sure to consult a healthcare professional before taking dandelion (45).

Summary

Dandelion is likely safe for most people. However, it may cause allergic reactions and interact with certain medications.

Despite their many potential benefits, dandelion plants and supplements shouldn’t be considered a replacement for a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. In fact, research on specific applications is lacking — especially in humans.

Still, if you eat its greens, roots, and flowers in their whole form — in salads, baked dishes, sides, and snacks — this root vegetable makes a unique, nutritious addition to your diet.

If you would like to take dandelion as a supplement, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional first.

Just one thing

Try this today: Although dandelion greens can be somewhat bitter, cooking helps improve their flavor. Try sauteing the greens with a bit of olive oil and chopped garlic for a quick and easy side dish.