What is Dandelion?
Most of us know what dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is. It’s that pesky weed that makes our yards look crummy and kids like to make wishes by blowing away their seeds. But what you may not know, is that dandelion is an effective diuretic which can be helpful in your journey to look shredded, while also having some other, centuries old, beneficial properties.
Where Does Dandelion Come From?
Dandelions are native to Europe, Asia, and North America. They have spread globally as a weed, but are also cultivated as they are edible. They can be boiled or eaten raw in salads.
Dandelion Benefits for Bodybuilders
As any competitive bodybuilder will tell you, what’s almost as important as having large muscles is having good muscle definition. To maximise definition, it is sometimes helpful to take a diuretic, to strip away some of the water under your skin. Pharmaceutical diuretics can be quite harsh and harmful to the body. They are also banned for use by bodybuilding federations. Herbal diuretics can therefore be a good alternative. Dandelions are known to be an effective natural diuretic that has been used in both traditional and modern medicine. It increases both the frequency and volume of urination (Clare et al, 2009).
Dandelion Benefits for General Health
Like other vegetables, dandelion is good nutrition, high in fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Particularly of importance is its high level of potassium. One potential downside of diuretic use is the loss of electrolytes such as potassium. However, any urinary potassium loss can be replaced by the natural potassium in dandelion (Schutz et al, 2006). There is also evidence to suggest that dandelion may be anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, promotes digestion, and is even being considered for its anti-cancer properties (Schutz et al, 2006).
Dandelion Side Effects and Safety
Because dandelion is a food, it is nontoxic and most people do not experience side effects from dandelion consumption. However, small groups of people do suffer from dandelion contact allergies (Schutz et al, 2006). It has also been suspected that in extremely rare cases, some people may be allergic to dandelion pollen, if eaten (Rodrigues-Fragoso et al, 2008). If taken as a diuretic supplement, do not use dandelion over a long period of time.
Dandelion Recommended Doses and Ingredient Timing
A study has shown that taking an 8000 mg dandelion extract three times a day (morning, afternoon, and evening) is effective in providing diuretic effects (Clare et al, 2009). However, it is important to follow the directions provided by the manufacturer, as dandelion may not be the only active ingredient. The best time to use a dandelion supplement would be a few days before a competition or show. That way it maximises your muscle definition in time, and eliminates the need for you to use it over a long period of time.
Due to its potency as a diuretic, dandelion can be found as an active ingredient in many herbal diuretics and fat burners. It has been said that the diuretic effect of dandelion leaves and stem extracts are stronger than that of the roots (Schutz et al, 2006). So if you are after an extra strong diuretic, this is something that you may want to look out for. However, it is the dandelion root that is most commonly found in supplements. This is likely to aid water loss in a safe and controlled fashion that may be more practical for most users. Since dandelion also has good nutritive properties, it can also be found in multivitamins and antioxidant supplements.
For bodybuilders wishing to cut, dandelion may be a useful supplement that can be stacked together with fat loss proteins and fat burners. This way, this stack of supplements can help shed the fat as well as excess water to give you an extra shredded look.
Clare et al (2009), The Diuretic Effect in Human Subjects of an Extract of Taraxacum officinale Folium over a Single Day. J Altern Complement Med, 15: 929-934
Rodrigues-Fragoso et al (2008), Risks and Benefits of Commonly used Herbal Medicines in México. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol, 15: 125-135
Schutz et al (2006), Taraxacum—A review on its phytochemical and pharmacological profile. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 107: 313-323