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Dandelion

Medically reviewed on June 7, 2018

What is Dandelion?

The dandelion is a weedy composite plant with leaves coming from the base. The leaves may be nearly smooth-edged, toothed, or deeply cut. The plant has a deep taproot. The plant's name (dent-de-lion means "lion's tooth" in French) comes from its toothed appearance. It grows wild in most parts of the world and is cultivated in France and Germany.

Scientific Name(s)

Taraxacum officinale Weber. Family: Asteraceae/Compositae (Aster)

Common Name(s)

Dandelion also is known as lion's tooth, pissenlit, priest's crown, puffball, taraxacum.

What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

The dandelion is mentioned as early as the 10th century by Arab physicians, who used it for medicinal purposes. It is native to Europe and Asia, but was naturalized in North America and now grows widely as a weed in nearly all temperate climates. It is cultivated by some European growers, and more than 100 specialized varieties have been developed. The bitter greens are used raw in salads, in wine making, or cooked like spinach. The root is roasted and used to brew a coffee-like beverage said to lack the stimulant properties of coffee. Dandelion has been used in traditional medicine to treat disorders of the liver, as a mild laxative, to promote bile flow into the intestines, to promote sweating, and as a pain killer, stimulant, tonic, and regulator of blood glucose. Roots and leaves have been used for heart burn, bruises, chronic swelling of the joints (rheumatism), gout, diabetes, and severely dry skin and other skin problems, as well as for cancers.

Nutritional

Dandelion leaves are one of nature's richest green vegetable sources of beta-carotene, from which vitamin A is created. They also are a good source of fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, thiamine, riboflavin, and vitamins C and D.

Other uses

In addition to its nutritional value, dandelion has been used for production of urine, regulation of blood glucose, liver and gall bladder disorders, appetite stimulation, and for digestive complaints. However, there is no clinical data regarding the use of dandelion for these situations.

What is the recommended dosage?

"Dandelion herb" is considered the above-ground part of the plant, and the "dandelion root" is the root and herb gathered while blooming. Clinical trials for dosing are limited. Fresh roots and leaves have been consumed in salads.

The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia recommends 3-times-daily administration of 0.5 go 2 g of dandelion root or 4 to 8 mL of root tincture, whereas the German Commission E Monographs recommends 3 to 4 g of dandelion root or 10 to 15 drops of root tincture twice a day, or 4 to 10 g of dandelion leaves or 2 to 5 mL of leaf tincture 3 times a day.

Contraindications

Contraindications have not been identified.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Generally recognized as safe when used as food. Safety and effectiveness for dosages above those in foods is unproven and should be avoided.

Interactions

None well documented.

Side Effects

Dandelions are known to cause allergy, including skin irritation, runny nose and watery eyes, and asthma in sensitive individuals. There is a case report of high oxylate levels in the urine (can cause kidney stones) caused by drinking large amounts of dandelion tea (2.4 to 3.5 L daily for 6 months). Case reports of liver and heart toxicity exist for dandelion when taken in combination preparations with other herbs.

Toxicology

Low.

References

1. Dandelion. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons eAnswers [database online]. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Health Inc; July 2015. Accessed April 27, 2015.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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