Dandelion is one of those plants whose presence is unavoidable. Native to Europe and Asia, it is now well established throughout the temperate regions of the world, and can be found growing in lawns, fields, parks, parking lots, and along sidewalks. While some individuals consider dandelion of no greater dignity than that of a “weed,” all parts of the plant are edible and highly nutritious (that’s right, free food right in your own backyard).
The leaves and roots are great raw or cooked, and bitterness can be mitigated through proper harvesting and processing techniques. Yet what receives somewhat less attention, other than when discussing wine, is the most conspicuous part of the plant – the flower.
I enjoy dandelion flowers not just because they taste good, but additionally because they contain nutritional benefits in levels that oftentimes exceed those found in the roots and leaves.
Let’s take a look at some of these benefits (1).
Dandelion flowers have higher levels of polyphenols
Polyphenols are compounds synthesized by plants (as well as by animals) that play important biological roles in the life cycles of these organisms. Whenever we consume foods rich in polyphenols, such as dandelion, we receive benefits that may aid in the prevention of degenerative diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease and cancer.
The aerial parts of dandelion, especially the flowers, contain approximately 115 times the polyphenol content than that found in the roots (9.9 ± 0.28 g polyphenols per 100 g dandelion flower extract vs. 0.086 ± 0.003 g polyphenols per 100 g dandelion root extract).
Dandelion flowers have greater antioxidant properties
Oxidation is a natural process in the human body that, if left unchecked, can result in conditions such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease (just to name a few). Antioxidants combat the process of oxidation, and can be produced internally as well as provided externally through the consumption of antioxidant-rich foods.
One highly reactive molecule involved in oxidation is the hydroxyl radical, which causes damage to DNA, membrane lipids, and tissues within the body. Compared to the roots, stems, and leaves of dandelion, an ethyl acetate and water extract of dandelion flowers have been shown to provide the most efficient inhibition of the hydroxyl radical, followed by an aqueous extract of the stems. The inhibition may be caused by the higher number of polyphenols found within the flowers, including the caffeic and chlorogenic acids, and the flavones luteolin and luteolin 7-O-glucoside.
Dandelion flowers are anti-inflammatory
Research has shown that dandelion flowers mitigate inflammation in rats who experience carrageenan-induced paw edema. A methanolic extract of the flower provides the most significant inhibition (95%), compared to the leaves (69%) and roots (51%).
Dandelion flowers may owe their anti-inflammatory effects to their polyphenols, in particular luteolin and luteolin 7-O-glucoside. Research suggests that these compounds may downregulate both inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) – two enzymes involved in the inflammation process.
Dandelion flowers may act as chemopreventive agents
Angiogenesis is the process whereby new blood vessels are formed from the preexisting vascular system. While this is a normal part of the wound healing process, angiogenesis is also involved in tumor progression from the benign to malignant state.
Ethanolic extracts of dandelion flowers and leaves have been shown to possess anti-angiogenic activity, and this may result from the actions of flavonoid compounds such as luteolin. This suggests that the aerial components of dandelion may play an important complementary role in cancer treatment and prevention.
Dandelion flowers undoubtedly possess many more healing properties that await the discovery of future research. What we know at this point is that these reproductive structures are rich in polyphenols, they possess great antioxidant potential, they’re anti-inflammatory, and they may play a role in chemoprevention.
And while the title of this article may be a bit bold (I mean, how do you really define the term “healthiest?”), the reality is that the entire organism – Taraxacum officinale – is highly nutritious and medicinal. In addition to the benefits previously stated, research has suggested that dandelion possesses hepatoprotective, choleretic, and diuretic properties, and that the plant is a superior source of several vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber compared to other commonly eaten salad greens.
Which makes me wonder: Why isn’t dandelion recommended as the green of choice by nutrition experts, especially when it is so nutrient dense and readily available?
Thanks for reading, and as always … happy foraging!
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Reblogged this on Diana's Kitchen Laboratory and commented:
Kinda neat info, haven’t studied it myself though. I’m sure there are some scientifically sound articles out there.
I love the taste of dandelions. I eat many leaves each day, picked from my yard, or someone elses yard. Always Eaten Raw.
Are dandelions antifungal to help with my systemic infection with this odd airborne pathogen? Some online documents state this cancer-causing, mental illness-inducing airborne pathogen is not zoonotic. That’s wrong! It’s carried and shed by bats in their feces.
My coworkers and I, all immunocompetent, got Disseminated Histoplasmosis from roosting bats, that shed the fungus in their feces. The doctors said we couldn’t possibly have it, since we all had intact immune systems. The doctors were wrong.
More than 100 outbreaks have occurred in the U.S. since 1938, and those are just the ones that were figured out, since people go to different doctors. One outbreak was over 100,000 victims in Indianapolis. 80-90+% of people in some areas have been infected, and it can lay dormant for up to 40 years in the lungs and/or adrenals.
This underdiagnosed airborne infectious disease mimics the flu and can cause malignancies, precancerous conditions, rheumatological diseases, connective tissue diseases, heart disease, autoimmune symptoms, inflammation, adrenal insufficiency, seizures, migraines, hydrocephalus, hallucinations, etc. and is often undiagnosed/misdiagnosed in immunocompetent people.
It’s known to cause hematological malignancies, and doctors claim leukemia patients go into remission when given antifungal. My friend in another state who died from lupus lived across the street from a bat colony. An acquaintance with alopecia universalis and whose mother had degenerative brain disorder has bat houses on their property.
Researchers claim the subacute type is more common than believed. It’s known to at least “mimic” autoimmune diseases and cancer and known to give false-positives in PET scans. But no one diagnosed with an autoimmune disease or cancer is screened for it. In fact, at least one NIH paper states explicitly that all patients diagnosed with sarcoidosis be tested for it, but most, if not all, are not. Other doctors are claiming sarcoidosis IS disseminated histoplasmosis.
What if this infection, that made us so ill, isn’t rare in immunocompetent people? What if just the diagnosis is rare, since most doctors ignore it?
Older documents state people who spend a lot of time in a building with roosting bats and in caves are known to get Disseminated Histoplasmosis, but the info appears to have been lost, for the most part. And now bat conservationists encourage people to leave bats in buildings/homes. What a terrible mistake they’ve made.
This pathogen parasitizes the reticuloendothelial system/invades macrophages, can infect and affect the lymphatic system and all tissues/organs, causes inflammation, granulomas, and idiopathic (unknown cause) diseases and conditions, including hematological malignancies, autoimmune symptoms, myelitis, myositis, vasculitis, panniculitis, dysplasia, hyperplasia, etc. It causes hypervascularization, calcifications, sclerosis, fibrosis, necrosis, eosinophilia, leukopenia, anemia, neutrophilia, pancytopenia, thrombocytopenia, hypoglycemia, cysts, abscesses, polyps, stenosis, perforations, GI problems, hepatitis, focal neurologic deficits, etc.
Many diseases it might cause are comorbid with other diseases it might cause, for example depression/anxiety/MS linked to Crohn’s.
The fungus is an Oxygenale and therefore consumes collagen. It’s known to cause connective tissue diseases (Myxomatous degeneration?), rheumatological conditions, seizures, and mental illness. Fungal hyphae carry an electrical charge and align under a current. It causes RNA/DNA damage. It’s known to cause delusions, wild mood swings (pseudobulbar affect?), and hallucinations. It’s most potent in female lactating bats, because the fungus likes sugar (lactose) and nitrogen (amino acids, protein, neurotransmitters?), releasing lactase and proteinases to obtain them. What about female lactating humans…postpartum psychosis (and don’t some of these poor women also have trouble swallowing)? The bats give birth late spring/summer, and I noticed suicide rates spike in late spring/early summer. It’s known to cause retinal detachment, and retinal detachments are known to peak around June-July/in hot weather. A map of mental distress and some diseases appear to almost perfectly overlay a map of Histoplasmosis. Johns Hopkins linked autism to an immune response in the womb. Alzheimer’s was linked to hypoglycemia, which can be caused by chronic CNS histoplasmosis. Cancer is known to occur more often near rivers than in mountains or deserts, just like this infection.
The bats eat moths, which are attracted to blue and white city lights that simulate the moon the moths use to navigate. Bats feed up to 500 feet in the air and six miles away in any direction from their roost, but not when it’s raining or when the temperature is less than approximately 56° F. The fungus can grow in bird feces, but birds don’t carry it because their body temperature is too high, killing the fungus.
I believe the “side effects” of Haldol (leukopenia and MS symptoms) might not always be side effects but just more symptoms of Disseminated Histoplasmosis, since it causes leukopenia and MS symptoms. What about the unknown reason why beta receptor blockers cause tardive dyskinesia? The tinnitus, photophobia, psychosis “caused” by Cipro? Hypersexuality and leukemia “caused” by Abilify? Humira linked to lymphoma, leukemia and melanoma in children? Disseminated Histoplasmosis is known to cause enteropathy, so could some people thought to have nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug enteropathy have it and taking NSAIDs for the pain/inflammation it causes, and the NSAIDs aren’t the actual culprit?
From my experience, I learned that NO doctor, at least in DFW, will suspect subacute and/or progressive disseminated histoplasmosis in immunocompetent people. Some doctors, at least the ones I went to, will actually REFUSE to test for it, even when told someone and their coworkers have all the symptoms and spend a lot of time in a building with bats in the ceiling. Victims will be accused of hypochondriasis. (My doctors told me only farmer’s get it, it’s only in bird feces, and it only infects the lungs…wrong, wrong, and wrong!) In fact, the first doctor to diagnose me was a pulmonologist, and the only reason he examined me was to try to prove that I didn’t have it, when I really did. No doctor I went to realized bats carry the fungus. And NO doctor I went to in DFW, even infectious disease “experts,” understand the DISSEMINATED form, just the pulmonary form, and the only test that will be done by many doctors before they diagnose people as NOT having it is an X-ray, even though at least 40-70% of victims will have NO sign of it on a lung X-ray. It OFTEN gives false-negatives in lab tests (some people are correctly diagnosed only during an autopsy after obtaining negative test results) and cultures may not show growth until after 6-12 weeks of incubation (but some labs report results after 2 weeks).
One disease of unknown cause that could be caused by Disseminated Histoplasmosis: I suspect, based on my and my coworker’s symptoms (during our “rare” infectious disease outbreak) and my research, that interstitial cystitis and its comorbid conditions can be caused by disseminated histoplasmosis, which causes inflammation throughout the body, causes “autoimmune” symptoms, and is not as rare as believed. I read that “interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the submucosal and muscular layers of the bladder, and the cause is currently unknown. Some people with IC have been diagnosed with other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, and Sjogren’s syndrome, which raises the possibility that interstitial cystitis may be caused by mechanisms that cause these other conditions. In addition, men with IC are frequently diagnosed as having chronic nonbacterial prostatitis, and there is an extensive overlap of symptoms and treatment between the two conditions, leading researchers to posit that the conditions may share the same etiology and pathology.” Sounds like Disseminated Histoplasmosis, doesn’t it?
My coworkers and I were always most ill around April/May/June, presumably since the Mexican Free-tail bats gave birth in Texas during May (and the fungus was most potent), and late fall/Thanksgiving to December, for some unknown reason (maybe migrating bats from the north?). We had GI problems, liver problems, weird rashes (erythema nodosum, erythema multiforme, erythema marginatum/annulare, etc.), plantar fasciitis, etc., and I had swollen lymph nodes, hives, lesions, abdominal aura, and started getting migraines and plantar fasciitis in the building, and I haven’t had them since I left. It gave me temporary fecal incontinence, seizures, dark blood from my intestines, tinnitus, nystagmus, blurry vision/floaters/flashes of light, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, isolated diastolic hypertension, what felt like burning skin, various aches and pains (some felt like pin pricks and pinches), tingling, tremors, “explosions” like fireworks in my head while sleeping, and temporary blindness. Suddenly I was allergic to Comice pears (latex fruit allergy or oral allergy syndrome?). I had insomnia (presumably from the fungus acidifying the blood, releasing adrenaline) and parasomnias. It felt like strong bursts of electrical shocks or steady electrical currents in my body, which now feel like low electrical currents at times, mostly at night. I suddenly had symptoms of several inflammatory/autoimmune diseases, including Fibromyalgia, Sarcoidosis, ALS, MS, Sjogren’s syndrome, etc. that have disappeared since leaving the area and taking nothing but Itraconazole antifungal.
No one, including doctors (we all went to different ones), could figure out what was wrong with us, and I was being killed by my doctor, who mistakenly refused to believe I had it and gave me progressively higher and higher doses of Prednisone (2 years after I already had Disseminated Histoplasmosis) after a positive ANA titer, until I miraculously remembered that a visiting man once told my elementary school class that bats CARRY histoplasmosis. So much of it that they evolved to deal with the photophobia and tinnitus it causes by hunting at night by echolocation. There’s a lot more. I wrote a book about my experience with Disseminated Histoplasmosis called “Batsh#t Crazy,” because bats shed the fungus in their feces and it causes delusions and hallucinations, I suspect by the sclerotia fungal mycelia can form emitting hallucinogens (like psilocybin and dimethyltryptamine) along with inflammation in the CNS. (Schizophrenics have 2X of a chemical associated with yeast, part of the fungal life cycle.)
Thank you for your time,
P.S. Doesn’t this infection share all the same symptoms with Gulf War Syndrome?