Dandelions root is the culinary staple of North America. It has the reputation of being bitter and often tastes slightly like bitter coffee. There’s little wonder for this, as dandelions contain caffeic acid and in some varieties it is the main constituent. They also contain some chlorophyll. The word ‘dandelion’ is derived from the French ‘dent de lion’, meaning ‘lion’s tooth’.
Nutritional composition of dandelion root
Dandelions have long been eaten as a folk remedy for a variety of health problems. These problems include colic, stomach ulcers, indigestion, gas, heartburn, bronchitis, high blood pressure, rheumatism, joint problems and cholesterol problems.
However, there’s nothing in the root to warrant the wide use of dandelions in medicine. In fact, there’s a good reason why they’re only used in folk medicine, as a whole plant. What’s more, when eaten in whole form, the root causes stomach pain and nausea. It contains inulin, which is a non-digestible fiber that is thought to reduce cholesterol and aid digestion. Inulin is only absorbed in the large intestine and is harmless to the rest of the digestive system.
How does dandelion root work?
Dandelion root contains caffeic acid and chlorophyll. Although caffeic acid has strong antioxidant properties, chlorophyll is a powerful anti-oxidant. The combination of caffeic acid and chlorophyll is what gives the bitter taste which is found in the useful reference.
It is the caffeic acid, however, that may be the reason for the root’s cholesterol-lowering properties. Caffeic acid is an active ingredient in the plant phenolics, which are natural antioxidants. Caffeic acid is what gives its bitter taste and has been found to lower cholesterol levels in the blood. It also contains a powerful anti-inflammatory compound, chlorophyllin.
As an anti-inflammatory, it may be effective for the treatment of conditions such as arthritis, indigestion, ulcers, heartburn, and other inflammation-related problems.
The root is also very effective as a digestive aid, in that it can reduce stomach acidity and also helps to eliminate gas. There are no known side effects from dandelion root.
Does dandelion root improve my health?
Although the root has no known side effects, it does cause digestive problems when used in large amounts. Some people are also sensitive to the caffeine found in it, so it is best to limit your consumption to 2-3 cups per day. In the rare event that you feel nausea when you use the root, take it a half-hour before a meal.