The EclecticPhysician

The Eclectic Physician
Medicinal Herb Monographs

Dandelion

Botanical Name 
Taraxacum officinale

Taraxacum

Taraxacum officinale
(Dandelion)

The information on this page compiled by
Beth Burch N.D.
Index
(click on the keywords)

Introduction

Taraxacum is known throughout the world and has a long history of use as both food and medicine. The botanical name Taraxacum is from the Greek, taraxos (disorder) and achos (remedy). The common name Dandelion, comes from the French, Dent-de-lion, or teeth of the lion, referring to the tooth-like edges of the leaves. KIngís American Dispensatory reports its long use in the treatment of disorders of the liver and gallbladder, as well as its diuretic action useful in edema, and mild laxative action in constipation. Dandelion is high in potassium making it useful as a potassium sparing diuretic. Weiss notes its use as a cleansing spring tonic, nutritious and stimulating to the liver and kidneys. Weiss also reports the use of dandelion in the prevention and treatment of gallbladder disease. Modern research has confirmed Dandelionís ability to enhance the flow of bile and its strong diuretic action.

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Description

  • Taraxacum is found worldwide, frequenting fields, gardens and yards. A perennial plant, it flowers from April to November. The dark green, hairless, toothed leaves have prominent veins and grow directly from the tap root, as does the hollow flower stalk. The flower is bright yellow. What appear to be petals are actually individual flowers, a characteristic of the compositae family that Dandelion is a member of. Each of the little flowers forms a seed with fluffy bristles allowing the seed to float in the wind to be scattered. The tap root is yellowish or brown and fleshy. The whole plant has a milky white juice and a bitter taste that becomes stronger with age. All parts of the plant are used.

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Constituents

  • Sesquiterpene lactones
  • Triterpenes and sterols including taroxol, taraxerol and B-sitosterol
  • Phenolic acids including caffeic acid
  • Flavonoids
  • Polysaccharides including glucans, mannans and inulin
  • Carotenoids (higher than carrots)- ~14000 IU per 100 grams
  • Protein
  • Sugar
  • Pectin
  • Choline
  • Potassium- up to 5%

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Action/Effects

  • Diuretic- leaf has stronger effect (1)
  • Cholegogue (stimulates bile flow) (3)
  • Laxative (2)
  • Digestive bitter (2)

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Conditions used for

  • Edema, water retention (1)
  • Constipation (2)
  • Digestive disturbances including dyspepsia and loss of appetite (2,3)

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Dosage

  • Liquid extract- 1-2 teaspoons three times a day
  • Freeze-dried or dried- 300-450 mg three times a day
  • Fresh plant juice- 1 tablespoon twice a day

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Food Use

  • Young dandelion leaves make an excellent spring green. When young and tender, they are delicious fresh in a salad. In fact, there are cultivated varieties of dandelion sold specifically as greens.
  • Dandelion wine is made from the flowers allowed to ferment with sugar and yeast. An aperitif can be made with the flowers, sugar and vodka for a nice digestive stimulant.
  • Dandelion root can be dried and roasted to be used as a coffee substitute.

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Side Effects

  • May cause loose stool in large doses.

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Contraindications

  • Peptic ulcer or gastritis
  • Diarrhea
  • Gallstones
  • Acute inflammation of gastrointestinal tract or gallbladder
  • Allergy to dandelion or related plants
  • Psoriasis

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Interactions with medications

  • Do not use with other diuretics
  • May interfere with the action of medications that are metabolized in the liver.

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Use in pregnancy & lactation

  • Safe for use in pregnancy and lactation

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References

1. Racz-Kotilla E et al, The action of Taraxacum officinale extracts on body weight and diuresis of laboratory animals, Planta Med 1974; 26:212-17
2. Kuusi T et al, The bitterness properties of dandelion, Lebensm-Wiss Tachnol 1985;18:347-49
3. Buhm K, Choleretic action of some medicinal plants, Arzneim-Forsch Drug Res 1959;9:376-78

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* The information presented in this web site is intended to inform and educate. It is not intended replace a qualified medical practitioner to diagnose or treat medical conditions.

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