Some plants that have aesthetic appeal may have more benefit than meet the eye. Dandelion is a case in point. The vibrant and sometimes unwanted yellow-flowered plant that populates lawns and fields, is more than just nice to look at. Dandelion has been used as food and traditional medicine for a long time. In more recent years, there has been some speculation that it has potential to support weight loss. Let’s check whether the research backs this up.
What is Dandelion Extract?
The dandelion plant is a member of the daisy family and is native to Europe and Asia. Dandelion extract is derived from various parts of the dandelion plant with each part showing certain strengths. The roots, for instance, have been traditionally used to support liver health and aid digestion. The leaves exhibit diuretic properties, promoting increased urine production, while the flowers are often utilized to make dandelion tea, a popular beverage in herbal medicine.
The nutritional profile of dandelion extract is impressive, offering key vitamins and minerals essential for overall health. Additionally, dandelion extract contains powerful antioxidants such as flavonoids and polyphenols. The antioxidants help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body, control inflammation, potentially reducing cellular damage and supporting overall health. How about weight loss though? Does it aid it?
Scientific Research on Dandelion Extract and Weight Loss
The connection between dandelion extract and weight loss has not been comprehensively studied in humans. Nearly all research proponents bank on today is based on animal tests.
a study published in 2013 in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal set out to establish the effect of dandelion leaf extract on obesity-associated parameters. Researchers placed mice in four groups:
The dandelion groups saw substantially less fat accumulation as well as dramatically reduced cholesterol as compared to the HFD-only group.
Dandelion supplementation groups experienced a reduction in fat and bad cholesterol in addition to an increase in good cholesterol.
So dandelion extract seems to have a mitigating effect on fat and cholesterol in test animals. But how?
A 2008 study published in the Nutrition and Research Practice journal indicated, in mice, this could be due to dandelion extract’s ability to inhibit pancreatic lipase. Pancreatic lipase plays a central role in the breakdown and absorption of dietary fat. The less pancreatic lipase your body produces, the less fat your body absorbs.
Wrapping this section up, animal studies indicate dandelion extract may support reduction in body fat and bad cholesterol. Still, the dearth of human trials makes it hard to make definitive conclusions on its efficacy. Further, the animal studies cited are fairly small.
The fact that dandelion can be used as food hints that it is unlikely to cause adverse reactions. However, it could trigger allergic skin and respiratory reactions in people with sensitivities to ragweed and other such plants in the daisy family.
Also, dandelion's diuretic properties that cause increased urine production may result in dehydration if not countered by adequate fluid intake.
As the research on dandelion extract's effects on weight loss almost entirely involves animals, it is difficult to define an appropriate dosage for human weight loss. Some animal studies have safely involved doses that would be the equivalent of as much as 1,000 mg per day in humans. But again, one cannot make a direct extrapolation from animal studies.
While dandelion extract shows promise as an asset for healthy living, evidence of a direct role in weight loss remains weak and inconclusive due to a lack of human studies. More research involving human subjects is required to confirm the findings from animal studies. If you are contemplating taking dandelion extract supplements for weight loss, I would advise you to consider more viable alternatives.