Dandelion is a common edible flowering planet, species of which are native across Europe, Asia and North America. It has been gathered for food since prehistoric times, and is still eaten widely today. The leaves can be blanched or sautéed, the flower can be used in salads or to make dandelion wine, and the root can be made into root beer or similar.
Dandelion also has a very long history of medicinal use. It contains a number of important flavonoids, including luteolin, apigenin, caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid. As a herbal medicine, dandelion is used to treat liver and bile disorders, and as a diuretic.
A mild laxative, dandelion is thought to promote healthy digestion and to help balance the bacteria naturally found in the human gut. By increasing urine production, dandelion assists the kidney with clearing out waste and salt, and it is also thought to cleanse the liver and to improve electrolyte balance.
Dandelion is rich in fatty acids and phytonutrients which can reduce inflammation; it is also rich in antioxidants which help to limit the cell damage caused by free radicals in the body. Because of its effects on lipid control, dandelion may be useful to those suffering from diabetes.