Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a Medicinal Herb Used in Traditional Herbal Medicine.

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Botanicals: Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

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Introduction

The Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale, Weber, T. Densleonis, Desf; Leontodon taraxacum, Linn.) is native to Europe and Asia, but can be found in pastures, meadows, gardens and on waste grounds elsewhere in the world where it has been introduced.

T. officinale (Dandelion) is closely related to chicory, and is a perennial plant. Dandelion grows to a height of about 30 cm, and has oblong or spatulate, irregularly dentate or pinnatified leaves grow in a rosette from the milky taproot. It grows one or more naked flower stems, each terminating in a single yellow flower. The familiar puffball that succeeds the flower is a globular cluster of achenes, each of which is fitted with a parachute-like tuft, to maximise wind dispersal of its seed.

Botanicals: Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

 


 

Dandelion

Dandelion

Biological Name:
Taraxacum officinale, Taraxaci mongolici

Family:
Compositae

Other Names: 
Blowball, cankerwort, lion's tooth, priest's crown, puffball, swine snout, white endive, wild endive, dandelion, Pu gong ying

Parts Used:
leaves and root

Active Compounds: 
Taraxacum officinale contains the following constituents:

Taraxacin, a bitter principle; tataxerine, an acrid resin; tataxerol; taraxasterol; 3:4 dioxycinnamic acid; flavoxanthin; inulin; cirtic acid; pheyloxyacetic acid; riboflavin; sitosterol; sitosterin; stigmasterol and coumestro (Stuart, 1979)

In addition, Dandelion also contains vitamins and minerals: Vitamins B, C and pro vitamin A, and minerals such as iron, silicon, magnesium, zinc, potassium and manganese.

The potassium present in the leaves provides Dandelion with its diuretic action. Unlike pharmaceutical diuretics, which promote kidney function, Dandelion does not leach potassium from the body which can result in aggravation of existing cardio-vascular problems. This makes Dandelion balanced diuretic that may be safely used wherever such an action is needed including water retention due to heart problems (Hoffmann1983).

The bitter compounds in the leaves and root help stimulate digestion and are mild laxatives. These bitter principles also increase bile production in the gallbladder and bile flow from the liver, which aid the digestion.

History:
Historically, Dandelion is used both as a food as well as a beverage. Dandelion root is often used as a substitute for coffee. The young leaves of the Dandelion plant make a useful addition to a salad.

 

Traditional Applications in Herbal Medicine:


Western Herbal Applications:

Actions: Diuretic, cholagogue, laxative, tonic (Hoffmann, 1983; Stuart, 1979), anti-rheumatic (Hoffmann, 1983), choleretic (Stuart, 1979) and antimicrobial (Bensky, et al., 1986)

Indications: Atonic dyspepsia, chronic constipation; Jaundice, cholecystitis and cirrhosis; anti-rheumatic (Stuart, 1979; Hoffmann, 1983).

Chinese Herbal Applications:

According to Bensky et al., (1986) Dandelion is used to:

  • Clear heat and detoxify 'Fire Poison'; used to reduce swelling due to heat, and is particularly useful to treat red, swollen eyes; swollen, painful throat and ears; or mumps.
  • Clears Hot sores: used internally and topically, usually fresh for sores and abscesses, especially of the head and back.

Research by (Hyun-Na, et al., 2004) demonstrated Dandelion's potential effectiveness in treating cancer.

In general, Dandelion is a herb of choice to treat water retention, especially where at the same time there are cardio-vascular problems present. It is also of primary use in liver and gallbladder disorders such as jaundice and other related disorders of the hepatic system.

Other indications include:
Blood cleanser, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure (root), tonic, supports liver function.

 

Dosage:

The dosage will vary according to the type of prescription and the disorder being treated.

Safety:

Dandelion is considered a safe herbal medicine, however, no herbal medicine should be used without consulting a health professional first.

The milky latex in the stem and leaves of fresh dandelion may cause an allergic rash in some individuals.

 

References:

Stuart, Malcolm (1979). The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1979.

Hoffmann, David (1983). The Holistic Herbal: A herbal celebrating the wholeness of life. Findhorn Press, Scotland.

Bensky, D. Gamble, A. and Kaptchuk, T. (1986) Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica. Eastland Press, Michigan.

Hyun-Na Kooa, Seung-Heon Hong, Bong-Keun Song, Cheorl-Ho Kim, Young-Hyun Yoo and Hyung-Min Kim,  (2004) Taraxacum officinale induces cytotoxicity through TNF-α and IL-1α secretion in Hep G2 cells. Life Sciences, Volume 74, Issue 9, Pages 1149-1157

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