Immune-Supporting Compounds in Dandelions
Can Dandelion boost your immune system?
Dandelion is well-known as a natural diuretic and has been proven to improve digestion, but new evidence shows that it also has antiviral and antibacterial properties and contains key compounds that scientists believe can positively modulate the immune system. Dandelion is also rich in vitamin A, which increases the activity of immune cells.
What makes dandelion good for the immune system?
So, let's take a closer look at the properties and compounds which make Dandelion good for your immune system.
New research indicates that Dandelion has antiviral and antibacterial properties. An in vitro trial shows Dandelion's antiviral effects, specifically in the case of influenza virus.
On top of that, exciting preliminary in vitro research published in March 2021 indicates that dandelion blocks the interaction between ACE2 cell surface receptors and the SARS-CoV-2 (covid19) spike protein.
It is still somewhat of an unknown how dandelion acts as an antiviral, because the research is at such early stages; but there is certainty around some of the phytochemicals in dandelion, which help us piece the jigsaw puzzle together.
Bear in mind, plants are a complex bundle of phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, all working synergistically. So, it's kind of silly to try and pinpoint one chemical that does all the work, because it's always a team effort. However, here are some of the key compounds that scientists believe may give Dandelion its immune-modulating properties:
Polysaccharides are a group of compounds known for how they balance the immune system. Popular immune-enhancing herb Echinacea contains lots of polysaccharides. As does Dandelion.
Sesquiterpene lactones and phenylpropanoids
One study showed that sesquiterpene lactones (a type of naturally occurring compound in Dandelion) contributed to the inflammation-modulating properties of dandelion root. Other studies showed that extracts of both root and flower balanced inflammation; and some evidence suggests that phenylpropanoids (another compound in Dandelion) might be key to this activity. Alcohol extracts of the dried, above ground parts of the Dandelion plant have been shown in rodent studies to reduce inflammation, though which constituents were responsible for these effects remains unknown. It is likely that all of these compounds work in conjunction with each other in complex ways.
Inflammation plays an important role in our immune response, and it is vitally important that it is kept in balance. Too little and healing is impaired; too much for too long gives rise to chronic health issues. Plants are amazing at helping us keep inflammation in check.
Vitamins and minerals
Dandelion is rich in vitamins A and K, and minerals potassium, iron and calcium. It's important to have a variety of vitamins and minerals in food-like doses for healthy immune function; but vitamin A and iron play key roles. Iron helps carry blood to cells and vitamin A increases the activity of immune cells.
Inulin is a type of complex carbohydrate that's kind of like food for the friendly bacteria living in your gut. When your gut microflora has plenty to ferment, it creates a healthier gut environment and improved digestion, and it also helps our immune system work efficiently. The gut microbiome acts as a gatekeeper and trainer for the immune system by teaching it who is friend and who is foe. Supplementing with herbs rich in inulin, such as Dandelion, will help your gut and your immune system function optimally.
Borrowed from Kate Harris - Student Herbalist, Reflexologist, Yoga Teacher, Writer & Product Trainer