||Dandelion Herb/Dandelion Root With Herb
Taraxacum officinale (Botanical)
Taraxaci herba/Taraxaci radix cum herba
Indigenous to Europe, dandelion is now widespread throughout North America.
Hundreds of subspecies of Taraxacum officinale with distinctive
appearances are found in the temperate regions of Europe and Asia as well.
Dandelion is a common weed, but it is heralded for both its culinary and
medicinal value. It is consumed mainly as a food, and its leaves contain the
highest vitamin A content of all greens. This plant is also a source of wine,
beer, and coffee substitutes.
In traditional medicine, dandelion roots and leaves are used largely in
treatments for hepatic disorders. In Europe, herbalists incorporate it into
remedies for liver congestion, fever, skin ailments, eye problems, diarrhea,
fluid retention, and heartburn. The leaves produce a transient diuretic effect
while the roots act as an appetite stimulant and digestive aid. Chinese
medicinal practitioners traditionally used dandelion to treat digestive
problems, appendicitis, and breast cancer. Today, herbal practitioners still
tout dandelion leaves as an effective diuretic and weight-loss agent.
Dandelion is generally considered nontoxic and devoid of adverse side
effects. Pharmacological studies confirm that dandelion stimulates diuresis, and
acts on the liver and digestive processes. Taraxacin, an undefined bitter
principle in dandelion, may be responsible for its therapeutic effects on
digestion. However, there is only limited scientific evidence supporting the
efficacy of dandelion for its varied traditional uses. Even though numerous
active principles have been isolated from the rhizomes and roots, only a few
structure-activity relationships have been established.
Dandelion is a hardy, variable perennial that can grow to a height of nearly
12 inches. Its short rhizome divides at the crown into a tapered, multi-headed
taproot. It has a distinctive basal rosette of deeply notched, toothy,
spatula-like leaves that are shiny and hairless. Each rosette is capped by a
head of composite bright yellow flowers. The grooved leaves funnel the flow of
rainfall into the tapered root.
Dandelion flowers are light-sensitive, characteristically opening in the
morning and closing in the evening and during gloomy weather. The roots are
fleshy and brittle, with a dark brown exterior, and filled with a white milky
latex that is bitter and slightly odorous.
Acids (e.g., caffeic acid, p-hydroxyphenylacetic acid, chlorogenic
acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid), resin
(undefined bitter complex, taraxacin), terpenoids (sesquiterpene lactones, or
bitter substances: e.g., taraxinacetyl-1'-O-glucosides,
taraxinic acid), flavonoids, vitamin A (14,000 IU/100 g leaf), carotenoids,
choline, mucilage, inulin, pectin, phytosterols, sugars, potassium.
Commercial preparations of dandelion are available as liquids and solids for
oral use. Root preparations are made from dandelion root harvested in autumn,
and the roots are then air-dried. Both dried leaves and dried aerial parts are
collected before the flowering season. Root products are preferably prepared
from large, fleshy, and well-formed roots on plants that are two years old.
Dandelion products when stored should be protected from light and
Traditional uses: mild diuretic and weight loss aid (leaf preparations);
laxative, cholagogue (stimulates flow of bile to duodenum), muscular rheumatism
and other rheumatic ailments, cholecystitis (gallbladder inflammation),
gallstones, jaundice, dyspepsia with constipation, oliguria (diminished
urination), poor circulation, liver and gallbladder disorders, hemorrhoids,
congestion in the portal system, gout, skin ailments
Conditions: dyspepsia, infections of urinary tract, kidney stone and gravel
formation, liver and gallbladder complaints, loss of appetite, disturbances in
bile flow, stimulation of diuresis, diabetes
Clinical applications: loss of appetite, dyspepsia, bile flow
An aqueous extract of dandelion showed antitumor activity in vitro.
Oral administration of dandelion extracts, particularly herb extracts, produced
diuretic activity in rats and mice. Dried dandelion herb (2 g/kg, or 50 ml)
exhibited a diuretic effect comparable to that of 80 mg/kg furosemide (Lasix)
without the potentially adverse side effects of Lasix.
An alcohol extract of dandelion was given to mice inoculated with Ehrlich
ascites cancer cells, with the test animals receiving dandelion over a 10-day
period. The extract significantly suppressed the growth of cancerous cells
within one week after treatment. In other research, dandelion stimulated
production of antibodies to active polypeptides in tumor-induced ascites fluid
Dandelion and one of its constituents, inulin, showed hypoglycemic
activity in normoglycemic but not in alloxan-treated hyperglycemic (diabetic)
rabbits. The blood-sugar-lowering effect of dandelion may result from
stimulation of pancreatic beta-cells, the mechanism responsible for the
hypoglycemic activity of the sulfonylureas. In another investigation, a
dandelion root extract produced moderate anti-inflammatory action against
carrageenan rat paw edema.
|Dosage Ranges and Duration of
- Dried leaf infusion: 4 to 10 g tid
- Dried root (infusion or decoction): 2 to 8 g tid
- Herb: 4 to 10 g tid
- Leaf tincture (1:5) in 30% alcohol: 5 ml tid
- Powdered solid extract (4:1): 250 to 500 mg/day
- Root tincture (1:2) fresh root in 45% alcohol: 5 ml tid
Dandelion is considered safe even in large quantities. Dandelion can be used
for an unlimited duration.
The toxicity of this plant is extremely low. It is reportedly free of adverse
side effects when used both externally and internally. LD50 values
(mice, I.P.) for the root and herb are 36.8 g/kg and 28.8 g/kg, respectively.
Rabbits given dandelion extracts by mouth 3, 4, 5, and 6 g/kg body-weight for
periods of up to one week showed neither visible signs of toxicity nor
However, the bitter substances in this plant can cause gastric hyperacidity
in some individuals. Though rare, contact allergic reactions can occur in
response to sesquiterpene lactones in the latex. Also, dandelion has a weak
Susceptible individuals may develop contact allergic reactions to dandelion;
however, ingestion does not appear to cause allergic responses. Pregnant and
lactating women can use dandelion safely if their intake is limited to
quantities used in foods.
Dandelion may precipitate closure of the biliary ducts, gallbladder empyema
(inflammation), and ileus. Individuals with biliary conditions and gallstones
should first consult with a doctor before ingesting
Although the components of dandelion have diuretic properties (Blumenthal
2000), no clinically significant interactions between this herb and diuretic or
other medications have been reported in the
The high mineral content of Taraxacum mongolicum, Chinese dandelion,
may interfere with the absorption of quinolone antibiotics. In a rat study,
concurrent dosing of aqueous Taraxacum mongolicum extract (2 g/kg) and
ciprofloxacin (20 mg/kg po) lowered the maximum plasma concentration of
ciprofloxacin by 73% (Zhu et al. 1999). It is not known if Taraxacum
officinale, European or common dandelion, would interact similarly with
quinolone antibiotics and reduce the blood levels of these
|Regulatory and Compendial
In Britain, dandelion is included in the General Sale List (GSL). The Council
of Europe classifies this herb as a natural source of food flavoring (category
N2) approved as an additive to foodstuffs in small quantities. Dandelion is
listed as an approved herb in The Complete German Commission E
Akhtar M, Khan Q, Khaliq T. Effects of Portulaca oleraceae (kulfa) and
Taraxacum officinale (dhudhal) in normoglycaemic and alloxan-treated
hyperglycaemic rabbits. J Pakistan Med Assoc. 1985;35:207-201.
Baba K, Abe S, Mizuno D. Antitumor activity of hot water extract of
dandelion, Taraxacum officinale-correlation between antitumor activity
and timing of administration [in Japanese]. Yakugaku Zasshi. 1981;101(ISS
Blumenthal M, ed. Herbal Medicine Expanded Commission E Monographs.
Newton, Mass: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000:79-80.
Blumenthal M, ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Boston,
Mass: Integrative Medicine Communications; 1998:118-120.
Davies MG, Kersey PJ. Contact allergy to yarrow and dandelion. Contact
Dermatitis. 1986;14 (ISS 4):256-7.
Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary. 25th ed. Philadelphia, Pa:
W.B. Saunders; 1974.
Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. Vol. I. New York, NY: Dover;
Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C. PDR for Herbal Medicines.
Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company; 1998:1174-76.
Hobbs C. Taraxacum officinale: A monograph and literature review. In:
Eclectic Dispensatory. Portland, Ore: Eclectic Medical Publications;
Mascolo N, et al. Biological screening of Italian medicinal plants for
anti-inflammatory activity. Phytotherapy Res 1987:28-29.
Murray MT. The Healing Power of Herbs. 2nd ed. Rocklin, Calif: Prima
Publishing; 1995: 86-91.
Newall C, Anderson L, Phillipson J. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for
Health-care Professionals. London, England: Pharmaceutical Press;
Racz-Kotilla E, Racz G, Solomon A. The action of Taraxacum officinale
extracts on the body weight and diuresis of laboratory animals. Planta
Med. 1974;26: 212-217.
Tyler V. The Honest Herbal: A Sensible Guide to the Use of Herbs and
Related Remedies. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Pharmaceutical Products Press;
Yamashita K, Kawai K, Itakura M. Effects of fructooligosaccharides on blood
glucose and serum lipids in diabetic subjects. Nutr Res.
Zhu M, Wong P, Li R. Effects of Taraxacum mongolicum on the
bioavailability and disposition of ciprofloxacin in rats. J Pharm Sci.
Copyright © 2000 Integrative Medicine
CommunicationsThis publication contains
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