Dandelion is a common herbaceous plant abundant all over
the world, growing in meadows and pastures, and often your front lawn.
Dandelion has a thick, light brown perennial root which produces a rosette of
basal leaves. A leafless flower stem grows from the center of the basal leaves.
It is smooth, hollow, and terminates with a single large golden flower which
opens during the day and closes at night, and in the rain. The root, leaves,
and stem contain a milky fluid. These flowers are succeeded by a hairy puffball
containing seeds which ripen and are blown by the wind. The medicinal parts are
the leaves and the roots.
Other common names:
|| Lion's tooth
| Priest's crown
|| Swine snout
| White endive
|| Wild endive
|| Caffeinic acid
| Fatty acids
| Lauric acid
|| Myristic acid
| Phenolic acids
|| Plant acids
|| Stearic acid
|| Triterpenic acids
* For definition of some of the above terms
see the dictionary section of this book.
|| Beta carotene
|| Vitamin A
| Vitamin B-3
|| Vitamin B Complex
|| Vitamin C
| Vitamin D
PROPERTIES AND USES
Aperient - a mild laxative used to stimulate the
Cholagogue - a substance which increase the flow of
bile to the intestines.
Diuretic - Diuretics form a class of drugs which
increase the volume of urine produced by the kidneys. It can be used
effectively to treat mild cases of edema when kidney function is good and when
the underlying abnormality of cardiac function, capillary pressure, or salt
retention is being corrected simultaneously. Diuretics are not an appropriate
treatment for edema caused by inflammation of the kidneys, and are useless in
cardiac edema associated with advanced kidney insufficiency. There are a
variety of diuretics with different modes of action. Among the diuretics are
spironolactones, triamterene, and theobromine.
Laxative - an agent which acts to loosen the
bowels; it is therefore used to threat constipation. Laxatives may act by
increasing peristalsis by irritating the intestinal mucosa, lubricating the
intestinal walls, softening the bowel contents by increasing the amount of
water in the intestines, and increasing the bulk of the bowel content.
Stomachic - a substance which excites, strengthens,
and tones the stomach.
Tonic - an agent which strengthens or tones.
Dandelion is one of the strongest cholagogues and
choleretics known (the others being wormwood and Helichrysum arenarium). Its
ability to promote the flow of bile is unequaled among the common herbs. It
raises the secretion of bile by over 50%. In experiments with rats, dandelion
affects the secretion of bile much like an injection of the animals own bile
would. Since rats do not have gall bladders, the herb must work directly on the
liver. It is used specifically to promote the health of the liver and related
organs and glands. Research indicates that it aids recovery from many kinds of
liver disease, including hepatitis and liver insufficiency. Several European
proprietary liver remedies contain dandelion root.
It is postulated that the active choleretic principle may
be heterocyclic nitrogen-containing constituents. But experts in the area of
dandelion research agree that the properties of this herb are the result of
interactions among its constituents rather than being the case of a one
Clinically, dandelion has been observed to benefit people
with colitis, liver congestion, gallstones and several forms of liver
insufficiency. In particular, chronic hepatitis and dyspepsia with insufficient
bile secretion are susceptible to the effects of this herb.
A German drug, "Hepatichol," contains dandelion, gentian,
maria thistle, nettle, belladonna, and peppermint. clinical studies with this
medicine on cases of gallstones, acute and chronic bile duct and gallbladder
inflammation, dyskinesia of the bile duct, and jaundice caused by complete
obstruction by gallstones, showed more or less complete recovery within several
days. The length of recovery depended on the severity of the symptoms. Further
tests with this drug on both healthy and sick subjects using valid controls and
sophisticated probes found that the medicine significantly enhanced both the
concentration and the secretion of bilirubin in the duodenum just minutes after
The diuretic property of dandelion has also been observed
in several studies. This property may be attributable in part to the presence
of potash. In one study a fluid extract of the plant decreased body weight in a
month by 30%.
Because of its high inulin content, dandelion belongs to
the class of agents used as blood purifiers by many people. It is hard to find
justification for this usage from scientific literature.
Inulin is easily assimilated by diabetics (it contains no
calories and does not stress the pancreas, and can therefore be used to
regulate sugar metabolism. In the plant, inulin is converted enzymatically to
fructose. According to many experts, the liver has a special affinity for
fructose; fructose is more rapidly burned and catabolized than glucose. The
heart can only utilize glucose after it is converted into glycogen by the
liver. That process requires insulin production which can stress the pancreas
and produces unwanted swings in blood sugar levels. It is extremely important
in cases of conditions like coronary heart disease that the liver be able to
provide energy very rapidly. In this regard, fructose, and therefore inulin,
appear to be especially valuable in heart therapy.
Dandelion contains choline and large quantities of
vitamins. At least one study found that the herb can cure scurvy. The herb
contains more protein, fat, carbohydrates, iron and ash than many other leafy
foods, but is not considered a good source of vitamin C in spite of the
antiscorbutic action observed.
Dandelion has been used for hundreds of years in china to
treat cancer, especially breast cancer. Recently, antitumor properties in
dandelion were discovered. A hot water extract showed an antitumor effect in
the allogenic tumor system of ddY-Ehrlich, and syngeneic one, C-3-H/He-MM46.
The extract showed cytolytic activation of macrophages in antibody-dependent
macrophage mediated cytolysis and enhancement of antitumor delayed
hypersensitivity reaction in the two tumor systems.
Dandelion also possesses some hypoglycemic activity,
perhaps because of the presence of inulin.
Dandelion, even taken in frequent large doses, will not
produce toxic side effects. However, some suggest that the possible allergies
which this herb can cause or aggravate are hay fever, asthma, and
hypersensitivity pneumonitis. There are conflicting statements about
dandelion's effect on the kidneys; one source states it can irritate the
kidneys while another states that there are no toxicity reports to substantiate
DRUG PRECAUTIONS AND
Known Interactions - None
The antituberculous activity of dandelion may potentiate
the adverse effects of other antituberculous drugs, especially ethionamide.
Conversely, the anti-inflammatory activity of dandelion
can be seriously inhibited by phenobarbital and certain other sedatives and
hypnotics, such as chloral hydrate and meprobamate. This is also true of
beta-adrenergic blocking agents, such as propranolol.
To the extent that dandelion's action depends on the
presence of cholinergic substances, its action will be affected by the decrease
in cholinergic receptor stimulation produced by anticholinergics. The ability
of the dandelion to increase insulin production and secretion may be
antagonized by heparin.
The antidiabetic ability of dandelion may be decreased by
the concomitant use of acetazolamide oral contraceptives, corticosteroids,
dextrothyroxine, epinephrine, ethanol, glucagon, and marijuana. The
antidiabetic effects of dandelion may also be decreased when used in
conjunction with phenotiazines, rifampin, thiazide diuretics, and thyroid
Conversely the antidiabetic action of dandelion may be
enhanced when used with allopurinol, anabolic steroids, chloramphenicol,
chlofibrate, fenfluramine, guanethidine, monoamine oxidase inhibitors,
phenylbutazone, probenecid, and phenyramidol.
The antidiabetic action of dandelion may also be enhanced
when used in conjunction with salicylates, sulfinpyrazone, sulfonamides, and