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Dandelion

Latin Names: Taraxacum officinale; Taraxacum mongolicum; Taraxacum spp

Other Names: Dents du Lyon – French; Diente de Leon – Spanish; Pu Gong Ying – Chinese; Papadie – Romanian

Taxonomy: Vegetable Kingdom; Compositae (Mint family)

Part Used: The rootstock; the leaves and herb

Basic Qualities: Temperate to slightly Cooling; temperate to slightly Drying.

Other Qualities: Opening and loosening, penetrating; tonic and restorative.

Taste: Bittersweet, slightly pungent.

Humoral Dynamics: Sanguine – purifies the blood of excess heat and choler, purulent toxins and uric acid.  Phlegmatic – a diuretic to relieve fluid retention, improve fluid metabolism and cleanse the lymph and serous fluids.  Choleric – improves the generation and secretion of bile by the liver and gall bladder, stimulates the gastric and digestive secretions.  Melancholic – a mild aperient laxative to relax the bowels.

Tropism: The liver, gall bladder and hepatobiliary system; the stomach and intestines; the blood and lymph; the kidneys, bladder and urinary tract; the skin.

Constituents and Pharmacology: The chief constituents of Dandelion root are Taraxacin, a crystalline bitter substance; Taraxacerin, an acrid resin; and Inulin, a kind of polysaccharide called a FOS (Fructo-Oligo-Saccharide). Other constituents include gluten, gum and potash, or potassium. Dandelion greens / herb and root are extremely rich in vital nutrients, like Potassium, Calcium, natural Sodium and other mineral salts; beta carotene or vegetable vitamin A. Its Inulin content stimulates the immune response and improves intestinal immunity, being a prebiotic food for the probiotic bacteria in the intestines.

Medicinal Properties: Alterative, antipurulent, aperient, bitter tonic, choleretic, cholagogue, diuretic, hepatic, hepatoprotector, stomachic, tonic.

Cautions and Contraindications: Being an edible herb and superfood, both the root and the leaves / herb of Dandelion are extremely mild, innocuous and nontoxic, and can be consumed even in large doses. Taking Dandelion root with some antibiotics, like Cipro and Quinolone antibiotics, may decrease their effectiveness by decreasing their absorption. Dandelion also interacts negatively with Lithium medication, by decreasing its excretion rate, leading to a potentially harmful buildup of it in the system. Many medications that are metabolized or broken down by the liver, like Glucuronidated drugs, can interact negatively with Dandelion; consult with your physician before starting Dandelion therapy. These drugs include Elavil, Haldol, Zofran and Theophylline.

Medicinal Uses: Dandelion root is taken internally, in powder or decoction form, to improve liver function, bile secretion and metabolism and to remove congestion and obstructions from the liver and gall bladder. It is also used as an alterative or blood cleanser to cleanse purulent toxins from the blood in anemia and chronic skin conditions, as well as to purify the lymphatic system and exert a mild diuretic effect by improving fluid metabolism. Dandelion leaf and herb has similar properties, although its diuretic and detoxifying actions are stronger. Dandelion leaves are often used in salads as a bitter tonic and digestive stimulant. Dandelion root exerts a mild aperient laxative effect on the bowels that goes hand in hand with its stimulation of bile secretion and metabolism. In addition to loosening the bowels and stimulating intestinal function, Dandelion root also stimulates stomach, appetite and digestive function as well. In Chinese medicine, Dandelion herb is often used to detoxify the female breasts in mastitis and tumors of the breast. Dandelion root and leaves are rich in antioxidants, and offer antioxidant protection to the liver. As a diuretic, Dandelion root and herb are not only rich in potassium, but can also relieve harmful buildups of uric acid in the bloodstream. As a hepatoprotector, Dandelion root is often used in liver formulas. Being rich in the polysaccharide Inulin, Dandelion root has a valuable blood sugar regulating action in type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. In short, Dandelion root is one of the most beneficial tonic or restorative herbs known.

Preparation and Dosage: Dandelion root and herb is one of the safest and least toxic herbs known. The leaf is eaten in salads, and the root can be drunken freely in herbal decoctions. To make a Dandelion leaf infusion, steep a heaping tablespoon of the dried leaf in a cup of boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes; strain and drink. To make a Dandelion root decoction, simmer a heaping tablespoonful of Dandelion root in a cup of water for 20 to 30 minutes; strain and drink. Dandelion root or herb can be decocted or infused either singly, or with other herbs in formulas. The dried root or herb can also be taken as a powder; the standard dose is ½ teaspoon, 2 to 3 times daily, or 2 to 3 standard gelatin capsules. A tincture of Dandelion root can be made by soaking 2 to 3 tablespoons of the powdered root in one cup of 80 proof alcohol for 2 weeks. The dose is 10 to 20 drops.

Herbal Formulation: Dandelion root is most commonly used in herbal formulas to treat and detoxify the liver.

Classic Combinations: With Burdock root (Arctium lappa) as a blood and lymphatic cleanser in liver and kidney congestion and toxicity, and in chronic skin conditions; also a mild diuretic that improves body fluid metabolism and balance.  With Artichoke leaves (Cynara scolimus) to promote and stimulate the secretion and excretion of bile by the liver and gall bladder.  With Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus) as a mild laxative to promote intestinal regularity and detoxify the colon; also as an alterative in chronic anemia and chronic skin disorders.  With Raw Chicory root (Chicorium intybus) as a liver tonic and restorative, and also as a diuretic and alterative in type 2 diabetes, gout and uric acid accumulation, and chronic skin conditions.  This combination can also be roasted and used as an herbal coffee substitute that is much better for one’s health than real coffee.  With Milk Thistle Seed or its extract, Silymarin, as a powerful synergistic duo to cleanse and detoxify the liver.

Description: The Dandelion is a common weed that grows wild all over the world, but it is one of the most valuable and beneficial herbal tonics known to man.  Its jagged edged leaves resemble lion’s teeth, and hence its name, which comes from the French Dents du Lyon.  It sends up shoots with puffball seeds that children often blow off to scatter into the wind.  Its bright yellow petaled flowers give the clue, according to the old Doctrine of Signatures, that this is an herb primarily for bilious problems involving the liver.  Dandelion, whether used as a bitter green in salads, or infused or decocted as a medicinal tea, comes from a good botanical family – the Compositae or Mint family, which yields a number of similar tonic herbs, including Chicory and Elecampane root.

Dandelion root is beneficial for cleansing, stimulating and removing obstructions from a sluggish and torpid liver, and stimulates the generation and secretion of bile by the hepatobiliary system.  As such, it is helpful in cases of biliousness and biliary congestion of the liver and gall bladder.  As a bitter tonic or aperitif, Dandelion herb or root stimulates stomach function and the gastric secretions, toning up the stomach in cases of a sluggish or atonic digestion.  Dandelion root exerts a mild aperient laxative effect on the bowels, relaxing and toning them, and aiding in bowel regularity; this may be tied in with its ability to stimulate the bile flow, as bile is your body’s own natural laxative.  The regular drinking of Dandelion root tea will strengthen digestion, bile flow and intestinal function, and it can also be taken in powder or alcoholic tincture form.

The humble Dandelion also has various culinary uses.  Fresh Dandelion leaves are a bitter green that can be chopped up and tossed into salads; it has a beneficial digestive effect, and a cleansing or detoxifying action on the blood and the whole body.  Dandelion root, along with Chicory root, can be slowly roasted until it turns a dark brown, and then can be brewed as a natural coffee substitute.  There are even recipes for Dandelion wine.  Steamed or sautéed Dandelion greens, often served doused with a little Olive Oil, are often eaten as a health food vegetable by peasants in rural Greece.  Once you get accustomed to the bitter flavor, Dandelion greens prepared in this manner can be quite delicious, and are definitely wholesome and nourishing.  If you can’t afford to buy your vegetables, eat the weeds!  The humble Dandelion weed is a real nutritional powerhouse, and a valuable survival food.  It is very rich in potassium, which it balances with natural sodium to optimize fluid metabolism and electrolyte balance; it is very rich in beta-carotene, or vitamin A, which is also important for healthy liver function.       

In general, the leaves are more cleansing and detoxifying than Dandelion root, and have a stronger diuretic effect.  In Chinese herbal medicine, Dandelion herb, called Pu Gong Ying, is well known for detoxifying the stomach, the liver and the female breasts, being useful in treating mastitis and even breast tumors.  As an alterative or blood cleanser, Dandelion, whether it be the root or the leaves / herb, cleanses the blood and lymph of excess heat and choler, pus and purulent toxins, and uric acid, being useful in treating fluid retention or edema, lymphatic congestion, anemia and chronic dyscrasias of the blood, gout and various chronic skin disorders.  Dandelion root will gently improve the fluid metabolism, especially in combination with herbs like Burdock root, whereas Dandelion leaves and herb has a more marked diuretic effect.  Alcoholic tinctures can be prepared from either Dandelion root or herb, or both simultaneously, as directed above.  Dandelion herb can even be powdered and taken as a green superfood – or both the leaves and root can be powdered in equal parts, to get the medicinal benefits of the whole plant. 

Dandelion root, along with the roots of Burdock, Chicory and Elecampane, as well as the Jerusalem Artichoke, is rich in the polysaccharide Inulin.  Inulin has two great health benefits for the human organism: First, it improves the overall immunity of the body by strengthening intestinal immunity, since it is a prebiotic which feeds and nourishes the growth of beneficial probiotic bacteria in the gut; the polysaccharide Inulin also stimulates immune globulin formation.  Secondly, being a specialized complex carbohydrate that is metabolized in a slow, balanced manner by the body, Inulin helps to balance out blood sugar metabolism and get one off the “blood sugar roller coaster”; it can even be valuable in treating type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.  Since Dandelion root is also beneficial for stimulating the liver, it can be particularly useful in type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome accompanied by a sluggish, torpid liver.  As a great tonic herb, Dandelion root is also very strengthening and restorative.

As a blood cleanser, Dandelion root and herb cleanse heat and choler, pus and purulent toxins, and excess uric acid from the blood.  Not only is this valuable in treating gout and uric acid diathesis, or excessive uric acid in the blood, but it is also valuable for treating many skin disorders, both acute and chronic.  These include pustules and acne, rashes and eruptions, eczema and psoriasis, since toxic or impure blood cannot nourish or produce healthy and beautiful skin.  Dandelion root is not only a blood cleanser, but a blood tonic, useful in treating chronic anemia and dyscrasias or biochemical imbalances of the blood, and as such, it can boost overall health and energy.  To treat chronic skin disorders, Dandelion root works very well in combination with Burdock root (Arctium lappa) and Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus).  Even the white sap from the stem of the Dandelion weed is beneficial in the topical treatment of various skin eruptions, like warts, acne blemishes, blisters and corns.

To search for the next promising wonder drug, many pharmaceutical companies employ ethnobotanists to go and scour the tropical rain forests in all exotic corners of the earth to talk to the local indigenous peoples and folk healers.  They take the indigenous medicinal plants they find back to the pharmaceutical laboratories where their various active constituents are isolated, extracted and tested clinically.  But the humble Dandelion, which grows wild in everyone’s back yard, brings out a sublime truth:  You don’t have to go to the ends of the earth to find healing herbs – they are available right where you live.

Sources: The Little Herb Encyclopedia by Jack Ritchason, ND, Third Edition, pp. 71 – 73.  @ 1995 by Jack Ritchason.  Published by Woodland Health Books. Pleasant Grove, Utah, USA.

A Modern Herbal, Vol. 1 by Mrs. M. Grieve, pp. 249 – 255.  @ 1971 by Dover Publications, Inc., New York, NY, USA.  Originally published by Harcourt, Brace and Company in 1931.

DANDELION

DISCLAIMER:  The information in this article is for educational purposes only, for general health maintenance and prevention, and is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical disease or condition. The reader assumes all personal responsibility and liability for the application of the information contained in this article, and is advised to seek the services of a physician or licensed healthcare practitioner should his or her symptoms or condition persist or worsen.