Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
In presenting my first Herbal Monograph, I wanted to choose an herb that is familiar to most people. The much disliked and much admired Dandelion, of course! The whole plant of the dandelion is used in herbal medicine. What’s interesting about this particular herb is that the upper parts, the leaves, and the lower part, the root, are used for different primary actions in herbalism. Some of the secondary actions are similar and, in most cases the root is found to be more effective or stronger.
The leaves of the dandelion plant contain a host of wonderful vitamins, minerals and other medicinal constituents. The minerals contained in dandelion are, most notably, potassium. Also included, are iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, choline, selenium, calcium, boron and silicon. Vitamins A, B, C and D are found as well. Other constituents include triterpenes, flavonoid glycosides, phenolic acids, phytosterols, sugars and mucilage. (Braun & Cohen, 2010)
One of the most beneficial action of the dandelion leaf is it’s diuretic properties. The leaf has a high potassium content, so there is no potassium loss in the body as the extra fluid is removed. Braun & Cohen compare it’s diuretic effects to that of ‘frusenide’, which is a powerful drug used as a diuretic. It’s use as a diuretic would also benefit water retention for heart problems. (Hoffman)
The leaf is also used specifically for cystitis. In a double blind randomized control trial on 57 women, a dandelion leaf and bearberry blend found to significantly reduce the frequency and re-occurance of cyctitis (Braun & Cohen, 2010, p. 377)
Dandelion leaf and root are also used for a liver tonic. Our liver is detoxifying all the time. It’s always a good idea to remember to keep our liver functioning well for a healthy body.
Another important action of the dandelion leaf and root is that it’s a cholagogue. This means that it supports or increases bile production in the body. Bile is used in our digestive processes.
The dandelion leaf can be taken as a tea, fluid extract and fresh juice.
Cautions and Contraindications
The dandelion is part of the Asteraceae family of latex, so if there is an allergy or sensitivity to these plants, be cautious. Do not take dandelion if you’re on quinolene antibiotics.
The dandelion root is one of my favourite herbal remedies in my practice. It has numerous valuable constituents! They are sesquiterpene lactones: including taraxacoside, Diterpenes: including taraxacin, Triterpenes: taraxasterol, arnidiol, faradiol and beta-amyrin, Sterols:stigmasterol, beta-terol, arnidiol, faradiol, beta-amyrin, Sterols: stigmasterol, beta-sitosterol, Carotenoids: lutein and violaxanthin, Xanthophylls and Flavonoids: apigenin and luteolin. (Hoffman 2003)
Dandelion root is used for congestion of the liver and gallbladder. It’s also used for congestive jaundice. It benefits as hepatic enzyme induction and is used for its cholagogue properties. The liver has the highly important role in the body of detoxifying everything that enters the body. It has two detox pathways named Phase 1 and Phase 2. The liver never rests. In order for the body to function at capacity, the liver system must be working well. If it doesn’t, then it becomes congested, or backed up, with toxins that build up instead of being eliminated from the body.
Dandelion root is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, so it’s also used in dermatitis, rheumatism and chronic gastritis. It’s a digestive tonic and bitter. More conventional therapies now include dandelion treatment for colitis, sore throat and hepatitis B.
So, knowing all that, it’s difficult to imagine which symptoms or illnesses would not benefit from liver support/tonic and digestive tonic/ bitter.
Dandelion root can be taken in tincture form, as a decoction, fluid extract or juice.
Caution and Contraindication for Dandelion Root is if there’s known allergy to the Asteraceae family of plants. Be very cautious in individuals with bleeding disorders. Do not use if there is gallbladder disease present.
There are some interactions possible with persons taking antacids, anti-coagulant medications and people on niacin.