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Dandelion

Scientific Name(s): Taraxacum officinale Weber, Taraxacum platycarpum
Common Name(s): Dandelion, Lion's tooth, Pissenlit, Priest’s crown, Puffball, Taraxacum

Clinical Overview

Use

Dandelion has been used for its nutritional value. Other traditional uses include regulation of blood glucose, treatment of liver and gallbladder disorders, appetite stimulation, treatment of dyspeptic complaints, and as a diuretic. However, limited clinical studies are available to provide evidence to support such claims.

Dosing

Clinical trials on which to base dosing are limited. Fresh roots and leaves are often consumed in salads.

The German Commission E Monographs recommends 3 to 4 g of the root or 10 to 15 drops of root tincture twice a day, or 4 to 10 g of the leaves or 2 to 5 mL of leaf tincture 3 times a day.

Contraindications

Contraindications have not yet been identified.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the US Food and Drug Administration or used as food. Avoid dosages above those in foods; safety and efficacy of such dosages are unproven.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Allergy and mild gastric discomfort have been reported.

Toxicology

The acute toxicity of dandelion is considered low. Decreased fertility in male rats has been observed.

Botany

The dandelion is a weedy composite plant with a rosette of leaves radiating from its base. The stem is smooth and hollow and bears a solitary yellow head, consisting solely of ray flowers, that produces a cluster of numerous tiny, tufted, single-seed fruits. The perrenial plant has a deep taproot and can reach 0.5 m in height. The leaves may be nearly smooth-edged, toothed, or deeply cut; the toothed appearance gave rise to the plant's name (dent-de-lion means "lion's tooth" in French). It grows wild in most parts of the world and is cultivated in France and Germany.1, 2, 3 A synonym is Leontodon taraxacum L.

History

The dandelion is mentioned as early as the 10th century by Arab physicians, who used it for medicinal purposes. It has also been described in ancient Chinese texts. The plant is native to Europe and Asia but was naturalized in North America. It 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 eaten raw in salads, used in wine making, or cooked like spinach. The root can be roasted and used to brew a coffee-like beverage said to lack the stimulant properties of coffee. The dandelion plant has long been used in herbal remedies for diabetes and disorders of the liver and as a laxative and tonic. Dandelion has been classified in traditional medicine as a hepatic, a mild laxative, a cholagogue, a diaphoretic, an analgesic, a stimulant, a tonic, and a regulator of blood glucose. Root and leaves have been used for heartburn, bruises, chronic rheumatism, gout, diabetes, and eczema and other skin problems, as well as for cancers.2, 3, 4

Chemistry

Dandelion leaves are one of nature's richest green vegetable sources of beta-carotene, from which vitamin A is created (14,000 units per 100 g of dandelion leaf versus 11,000 units per 100 g of carrot). They are also a very good source of fiber, potassium (297 mg, or 7.6 mEq per 100 mg of dandelion leaf), iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, thiamine, and riboflavin. Sodium and vitamins C and D are also present. The flowers also contain carotenoids.

Dandelion root contains triterpenes, including beta-amyrin, taraxol, and taraxerol; sterols, including beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, taraxasterol, homotaraxasterol; sugars; choline; inulin; pectin; glucosides; phenolic acids; gum; resins; minerals; and vitamins. Identified acids include caffeic, p-hydroxyphenylacetic, chlorogenic, oleic, and palmitic acids, and the fatty acids linoleic and linolenic; gallic and ascorbic acids are also found. The bitter taste is attributed to the presence of sesquiterpene lactones.2, 3, 5, 6

Uses and Pharmacology

Antioxidant activity

Animal data

Antioxidant activity has been demonstrated in multiple experiments and may be the basis of other observed activities.7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Clinical data

There are no clinical data regarding the use of dandelion for clinical applications of antioxidant activity, aside from theorized protectant effects.

Diabetes

Animal data

In older studies in rats and rabbits, dandelion extracts have shown some hypoglycemic activity.3, 17

Clinical data

A case report of hypoglycemia secondary to the consumption of dandelion in a 58-year-old woman with known type 2 diabetes exists.18 Clinical trials are lacking.

Diuretic effects

Animal data

Limited studies in rodents have been conducted with equivocal findings. Findings may be limited by different extraction techniques and/or varying plant sources.3, 17, 19

Clinical data

In a pilot study (N = 17), dandelion leaf extract demonstrated a diuretic effect with an increase in the frequency of urination demonstrated over a 1-day study period.20 Despite extensive traditional use as a diuretic, clinical trials do not support this application.

GI and choleretic activity

Animal data

Studies in animals from the 1930s and 1950s reported increased bile production following intraduodenal administration of dandelion whole-plant extract. Based on this data, the use of dandelion in gallbladder diseases, as well as applications to increase the flow of bile should be done cautiously.3, 17 Dandelion extract decreased gastric transit time and increased smooth muscle motility in rats,21 whereas in another experiment, the root was bifidogenic in vitro.3, 22

Clinical data

There are no clinical data regarding the use of dandelion for liver, gallbladder, or other GI disorders.3, 17

Hypolipidemic effects

Animal data

Selected flavonoid-rich dandelion extracts reduced adipogenesis and intracellular lipid accumulation in vitro.23 Rats fed a high-cholesterol diet and diabetic rats showed improved lipid profiles when administered dandelion extracts.5, 24, 25

Clinical data

There are no clinical data regarding the use of dandelion for effect on the lipid profile.

Other uses

Antimicrobial effects

An aqueous extract of dandelion demonstrated in vitro activity against influenza virus type A26 and HIV-1.27 Activity against bacteria, including Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis, and Staphylococcus aureus, has been shown in vitro.28, 29 Clinical studies are lacking.17

Cancer

Dandelion root extract induced apoptosis in human melanoma and leukemia cells. Activity against induced rodent tumors has also been shown.3, 5, 30, 31, 32

Other

Dandelion has been investigated for antiallergy potential in vitro.3 Immunomodulation has also been described.5, 33, 34

A single in vitro study in 1996 reported antiplatelet activity,3, 5 whereas another reported that dandelion had an effect on hematological indices in mice.35 The crude extracts of the Chinese herb T. platycarpum was discovered to have anticoagulant properties; further purification studies indicated the active moiety was a protein or peptide. It increased thrombin time most dramatically but also increased prothrombin time and activated partial thromboplastin time via competitive inhibition of thrombin at non-active and active fibrinogen binding based on the T. platycarpum protein concentration. It also inhibited kallikrein but not fibrinogen. When added to murine macrophage cells, production of cyclooxygenase-2, nitric oxide synthase, nitric oxide, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha was observed.45

The effects of dandelion on fatigue and exercise,34, 36 inflammation,37, 38 and stress39 have been studied.

Dosing

Dandelion herb is considered the above-ground parts of the plant, whereas dandelion root is the root and herb gathered while blooming.2

Clinical trials on which to base dosing are limited. Fresh roots and leaves have beenconsumed in salads.

The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia recommends 3-times-daily administration of 0.5 to 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.5, 40

Pregnancy / Lactation

GRAS or used as food.2, 17 Avoid dosages above those in foods; safety and efficacy for such dosages are unproven.

Interactions

None well documented. Interactions may result from dandelion’s potassium, sodium, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium content.41 Case reports exist that may indicate potential for potentiation of medicines used in diabetes and diuresis.18, 20

Adverse Reactions

Dandelion is GRAS, with mild GI adverse effects reported.17 Like many plants in the Asteraceae family, dandelion is known to cause allergy, including contact dermatitis, rhinoconjunctivitis, and asthma.17 A case report of hyperoxaluria exists following excessive consumption of dandelion tea (2.4 to 3.5 L daily for 6 months).42 Case reports of hepatotoxicity and cardiotoxicity exist for dandelion when taken in combination preparations with other herbs.41, 43

Toxicology

Because median lethal dose values in mice are 37 g/kg for the root and 29 g/kg for herb, the acute toxicity of dandelion is considered low.17 A study in rats demonstrated decreased male fertility, including decreased sperm count, motility, normal morphology, and pregnancy rate, with administration of an aqueous extract of dandelion.44

References

1. Taraxacum officinale. USDA. The PLANTS database (http://plants.usda.gov, 10 February 2015). National Plant Data Center, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA. Accessed February 10, 2015.
2. Khan IA, Abourashed AE. Leung’s Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. 3rd ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley; 2009.
3. Schütz K, Carle R, Schieber A. Taraxacum—a review on its phytochemical and pharmacological profile. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006;107(3):313-323.16950583
4. Duke J, Bogenschutz-Godwin M, duCellier J, Duke P. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2002.
5. González-Castejón M, Visioli F, Rodriguez-Casado A. Diverse biological activities of dandelion. Nutr Rev. 2012;70(9):534-547.22946853
6. Duke J. Handbook Of Biologically Active Phytochemicals And Their Activities. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Inc.; 1992. http://www.ars-grin.gov/duke/. Accessed 2014.
7. Davaatseren M, Hur HJ, Yang HJ, et al. Dandelion leaf extract protects against liver injury induced by methionine- and choline-deficient diet in mice. J Med Food. 2013;16(1):26-33.23256442
8. Colle D, Arantes LP, Rauber R, et al. Antioxidant properties of Taraxacum officinale fruit extract are involved in the protective effect against cellular death induced by sodium nitroprusside in brain of rats. Pharm Biol. 2012;50(7):883-891.22480378
9. Colle D, Arantes LP, Gubert P, et al. Antioxidant properties of Taraxacum officinale leaf extract are involved in the protective effect against hepatoxicity induced by acetaminophen in mice. J Med Food. 2012;15(6):549-556.22424457
10. Domitrović R, Jakovac H, Romić Z, Rahelić D, Tadić Z. Antifibrotic activity of Taraxacum officinale root in carbon tetrachloride-induced liver damage in mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2010;130(3):569-577.20561925
11. Gulfraz M, Ahamd D, Ahmad MS, et al. Effect of leaf extracts of Taraxacum officinale on CCl4 induced hepatotoxicity in rats, in vivo study. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2014;27(4):825-829.25015447
12. Hfaiedh M, Brahmi D, Zourgui L. Hepatoprotective effect of Taraxacum officinale leaf extract on sodium dichromate-induced liver injury in rats [published online ahead of print October 1, 2014]. Environ Toxicol.2527067710.1002/tox.22048
13. Hu C, Kitts DD. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) flower extract suppresses both reactive oxygen species and nitric oxide and prevents lipid oxidation in vitro. Phytomedicine. 2005;12(8):588-597.16121519
14. Park CM, Cha YS, Youn HJ, Cho CW, Song YS. Amelioration of oxidative stress by dandelion extract through CYP2E1 suppression against acute liver injury induced by carbon tetrachloride in Sprague-Dawley rats. Phytother Res. 2010;24(9):1347-1353.20812277
15. Park CM, Cho CW, Song YS. TOP 1 and 2, polysaccharides from Taraxacum officinale, inhibit NFκB-mediated inflammation and accelerate Nrf2-induced antioxidative potential through the modulation of PI3K-Akt signaling pathway in RAW 264.7 cells. Food Chem Toxicol. 2014;66:56-64.24447978
16. You Y, Yoo S, Yoon HG, et al. In vitro and in vivo hepatoprotective effects of the aqueous extract from Taraxacum officinale (dandelion) root against alcohol-induced oxidative stress. Food Chem Toxicol. 2010;48(6):1632-1637.20347918
17. Sweeney B, Vora M, Ulbricht C, Basch E. Evidence-based systematic review of dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) by natural standard research collaboration. J Herb Pharmacother. 2005;5(1):79-93.16093238
18. Goksu E, Eken C, Karadeniz O, Kucukyilmaz O. First report of hypoglycemia secondary to dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) ingestion. Am J Emerg Med. 2010;28(1):111.e1-111.e2.20006217
19. Hook I, McGee A, Henman M. Evaluation of dandelion for diuretic activity and variation in potassium content. Pharm Biol. 1993;31(1):29-34.
20. Clare BA, Conroy RS, Spelman K. The diuretic effect in human subjects of an extract of Taraxacum officinale folium over a single day. J Altern Complement Med. 2009;15(8):929-934.19678785
21. Jin YR, Jin J, Piao XX, Jin NG. The effect of Taraxacum officinale on gastric emptying and smooth muscle motility in rodents. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2011;23(8):766-e333.21453412
22. Trojanová I, Rada V, Kokoska L, Vlková E. The bifidogenic effect of Taraxacum officinale root. Fitoterapia. 2004;75(7-8):760-763.15567259
23. González-Castejón M, García-Carrasco B, Fernández-Dacosta R, Dávalos A, Rodriguez-Casado A. Reduction of adipogenesis and lipid accumulation by Taraxacum officinale (dandelion) extracts in 3T3L1 adipocytes: an in vitro study. Phytother Res. 2014;28(5):745-752.23956107
24. Davaatseren M, Hur HJ, Yang HJ, et al. Taraxacum official (dandelion) leaf extract alleviates high-fat diet-induced nonalcoholic fatty liver. Food Chem Toxicol. 2013;58:30-36.23603008
25. Choi UK, Lee OH, Yim JH, et al. Hypolipidemic and antioxidant effects of dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) root and leaf on cholesterol-fed rabbits. Int J Mol Sci. 2010;11(1):67-78.20162002
26. He W, Han H, Wang W, Gao B. Anti-influenza virus effect of aqueous extracts from dandelion. Virol J. 2011;8:538.2216827710.1186/1743-422X-8-538.
27. Han H, He W, Wang W, Gao B. Inhibitory effect of aqueous dandelion extract on HIV-1 replication and reverse transcriptase activity. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011;11:112.2207803010.1186/1472-6882-11-112
28. Wang HB. Cellulase-assisted extraction and antibacterial activity of polysaccharides from the dandelion Taraxacum officinale. Carbohydr Polym. 2014;103:140-142.24528711
29. Qian L, Zhou Y, Teng Z, Du CL, Tian C. Preparation and antibacterial activity of oligosaccharides derived from dandelion. Int J Biol Macromol. 2014;64:392-394.24368113
30. Ovadje P, Chatterjee S, Griffin C, Tran C, Hamm C, Pandey S. Selective induction of apoptosis through activation of caspase-8 in human leukemia cells (Jurkat) by dandelion root extract. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011;133(1):86-91.20849941
31. Chatterjee SJ, Ovadje P, Mousa M, Hamm C, Pandey S. The efficacy of dandelion root extract in inducing apoptosis in drug-resistant human melanoma cells. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:129045.21234313
32. Ovadje P, Hamm C, Pandey S. Efficient induction of extrinsic cell death by dandelion root extract in human chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML) cells. PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e30604.22363452
33. Zhang X, Xiong H, Li H, Cheng Y. Protective effect of taraxasterol against LPS-induced endotoxic shock by modulating inflammatory responses in mice. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2014;36(1):11-16.24286370
34. Lee BR, Lee JH, An HJ. Effects of Taraxacum officinale on fatigue and immunological parameters in mice. Molecules. 2012;17(11):13253-13265.23135630
35. Modaresi M, Resalatpour N. The effect of Taraxacum officinale hydroalcoholic extract on blood cells in mice. Adv Hematol. 2012;2012:653412.22844289
36. Jinchun Z, Jie C. The effects of Taraxacum officinale extracts (TOE) supplementation on physical fatigue in mice. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2011;8(2):128-133.22238492
37. Jeon HJ, Kang HJ, Jung HJ, et al. Anti-inflammatory activity of Taraxacum officinale. J Ethnopharmacol. 2008;115(1):82-88.17949929
38. Liu L, Xiong H, Ping J, Ju Y, Zhang X. Taraxacum officinale protects against lipopolysaccharide-induced acute lung injury in mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2010;130(2):392-397.20510343
39. Li YC, Shen JD, Li YY, Huang Q. Antidepressant effects of the water extract from Taraxacum officinale leaves and roots in mice. Pharm Biol. 2014;52(8):1028-1032.24611722
40. Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.
41. Agarwal SC, Crook JR, Pepper CB. Herbal remedies-how safe are they? A case report of polymorphic ventricular tachycardia/ventricular fibrillation induced by herbal medication used for obesity. Int J Cardiol. 2006;106(2):260-261.16321701
42. Moriarty B, Pinney JH, Owen-Casey MP, et al. Digital necrosis from dandelion tea. Br J Dermatol. 2013;169(1):227-230.23448203
43. De Smet PA, Van den Eertwegh AJ, Lesterhuis W, Stricker BH. Hepatotoxicity associated with herbal tablets. BMJ. 1996;313(7049):92.8688761
44. Tahtamouni LH, Alqurna NM, Al-Hudhud MY, Al-Hajj HA. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) decreases male rat fertility in vivo. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011;135(1):102-109.21354287
45. Yun SI, Cho HR, Choi HS. Anticoagulant from Taraxacum platycarpum. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2002;66(9):1859-1864.12400684

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