You may consider dandelions a pesky weed, but this green vegetable is edible, delicious and nutritious.
Rich in vitamins A and C, iron, potassium and zinc, dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) was used by Native Americans as a folk remedy for upset stomach, and liver, kidney and skin diseases. Today, dandelion roots and leaves are used as a natural diuretic to help combat water retention.
HOW DIURETICS WORK
Water retention can be caused by any number of medical conditions, including high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, glaucoma, edema (swelling) and even premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It’s not healthy to retain too much extra fluid in your body.
Excess fluid in your blood vessels creates a burden for your heart in pumping blood through your system. And, if your heart’s force cannot move blood through your body quickly enough, excess water pools, usually in your lower extremities. (Water retention with PMS is due to hormonal changes and usually is not serious.)
Diuretics, such as Lasix (furosemide), are prescribed for serious heart conditions and very high blood pressure. They prompt your kidneys to take salt out of the body and put it into the kidneys. Once there, the salt attracts water, which increases urine output so that fluid doesn’t accumulate in the body.
Dandelion, considered safe with few known side effects, is listed on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list and produces a mild diuretic effect. Though research on dandelion as a diuretic is scanty, a 2009 study showed increased excretion of fluids in healthy female humans using dandelion extract.
The study showed promise for dandelion use as a general diuretic; however, there’s still insufficient evidence to indicate reliable use of dandelion supplements to treat water retention resulting from a serious condition.
For mild water retention, you may consider using dandelion supplements, as long as you discuss it with your health care practitioner. It’s also important to factor in any prescription medication you may be taking, as dandelion supplements may interfere.
Dandelion supplements also may impact bile secretion, so avoid them if you have gallbladder problems.
Whether you have water retention or not, you can enjoy fresh dandelion greens on your menu, as you would any leafy green in soups, salads, and as a side dish.
Dandelion supplements may interfere with the following drugs:
1. Prescription diuretic (Lasix) – Potential interaction: dehydration, electrolyte imbalance
2. Lithium – Potential interaction: increases side effects of this drug
3. Blood-thinning medications (Coumadin, Plavix) – Potential interaction: increases risk of bleeding
4. Diabetes medications (insulin, metformin, glipizide) – Potential interaction: May reduce blood sugar levels too severely
5. Antacids (Tums, Milk of Magnesia) – Potential interaction: increases stomach acid and heartburn
6. Ciproflaxin (Cipro, an antibiotic) – Potential interaction: Chinese dandelion lowers absorption.