Biological Name: Taraxacum officinale, Taraxaci mongolici
Blowball, cankerwort, lion’s tooth, priest’s crown, puffball, swine snout, white endive, wild endive, dandelion, Pu gong ying
Parts Used: leaves and root
The principal constituents responsible for dandelion’s effect on the digestive system and liver are the bitter principles. Previously referred to as taraxacin, these constituents are sesquiterpene lactones of the eudesmanolide and germacranolide type and are unique to dandelion.
Dandelion is also a rich source of vitamins and minerals. The leaves have a very high content of vitamin A as well as moderate amounts of vitamin D, vitamin C, various B vitamins, iron, silicon, magnesium, zinc, and manganese.
The leaves are a rich source of potassium, which is interesting since the leaves are used for their diuretic action. This may make dandelion the only naturally occurring potassium-sparing diuretic, although its diuretic action is likely different from that of pharmaceuticals. At high doses, the leaves have been shown to possess diuretic effects comparable to the prescription diuretic frusemide (Lasix). Since clinical data in humans is sparse, it is advisable to seek the guidance of a physician trained in herbal medicine before using dandelion leaves for water retention.
The bitter compounds in the leaves and root help stimulate digestion and are mild laxatives. These bitter principles also increase bile production in the gallbladder and bile flow from the liver. This makes them a particularly useful tonic for persons with sluggish liver function due to alcohol abuse or poor diet. The increase in bile flow will help improve fat (including cholesterol) metabolism in the body
Dandelion is commonly used as a food. The leaves are used in salads and teas, while the roots are often used as a coffee substitute.
Dandelion leaves and roots have been used for hundreds of years to treat liver, gallbladder, kidney, and joint problems. In some countries, dandelion is considered a blood purifier and is used for ailments such as eczema and cancer.
Dandelion has also been used historically to treat poor digestion, water retention, and diseases of the liver, including hepatitis.
Hepatic, aperient, diuretic, depurative, tonic, stomachic
Dandelion is useful for a variety of purposes:
Indigestion and heartburn
Indigestion and heartburn
Dandelion has two particularly important uses: to promote the formation of bile and to remove excess water from the body. The root affects all forms of secretion and excretion from the body. It acts as a tonic and stimulant by removing toxins and poisons from the body. It increases the flow of urine in patients with liver problems. It is slightly laxative. It is a splendid remedy for jaundice and skin diseases, scurvy, scrofula, and eczema. Useful in all kinds of kidney troubles, diabetes, dropsy, inflammation of the bowels, and fever.
Has beneficial effect on the female organs. Increases the activity of the liver, pancreas, and spleen, especially in enlargement of the liver and the spleen.
Lukewarm dandelion tea is recommended for dyspepsia with constipation, fever, insomnia, and hypochondria. An infusion of the fresh root is reportedly good for gallstones, jaundice, and other liver problems.
Chinese Herbal Applications:
Dandelion is used whenever there is liver involvement with heat and toxins in the blood. This includes jaundice, hepatitis, red and swollen eyes, as well as urinary tract infection, abscesses, or firm, hard sores in the breasts. It is also very effective to increase the production of mother’s milk.
Closely related to chicory, dandelion is a common perennial plant worldwide. The plant grows to a height of about 12 inches. The oblong or spatulate, irregularly dentate or pinnatified leaves grow in a rosette from the milky taproot, which also sends up one or more naked flower stems, each terminating in a single yellow flower.
The familiar puffball that succeeds the flower is a globular cluster of achenes, each of which is fitted with a parachute-like tuft.
Dandelion is grown commercially in the United States and Europe. The leaves and root are used in herbal supplements.
As a general liver/gallbladder tonic and to stimulate digestion, 3-5 grams of the dried root or 5-10 ml of a tincture made from the root can be used three times per day Some experts recommend the alcohol-based tincture because the bitter principles are more soluble in alcohol.
As a mild diuretic or appetite stimulant, 4-10 grams of dried leaves can be added to 250 ml (1 cup) of boiling water and drunk as a decoction; or 5-10 ml of fresh juice from the leaves or 2-5 ml of tincture made from the leaves can be used three times per day.
The fresh juice is the most effective.
For chronic rheumatism, gout, stiff joints follow an 8-week dandelion cure as follows:
Use the whole plant before it flowers, leaves during flowering and root only during fall.
Infusion: Steep 2 tsp. Plant or root in 1-cup boiling water. Take 1/2 to 1 cup a day, lukewarm or cold.
Decoction: Use 4 oz. Fresh plant with 2 pints of water; boil down gently to 1 pint and strain. Take 3 tbsp. Six times daily.
Cold extract: Use 2 tsp. Plant with 1 cup water; let stand for 8-hours.
Juice: For a springtime tonic, take 1 tsp. Juice pressed from the leaves in milk, one to three times a day. Use an electric vegetable juicer to extract the milk.
Dandelion leaf and root should be used with caution by persons with gallstones. If there is an obstruction of the bile ducts, then dandelion should be avoided altogether.
In cases of stomach ulcer or gastritis, dandelion should be used cautiously, as it may cause overproduction of stomach acid.
Those experiencing fluid or water retention should consult a nutritionally oriented doctor before taking dandelion leaves. People taking the leaves should be sure that their doctors monitor potassium levels.
The milky latex in the stem and leaves of fresh dandelion may cause an allergic rash in some individuals.