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(Taraxacum Officinale)

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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:

 Blowball  Cankerwort  Lion's tooth
 Priest's crown  Puffball  Swine snout
 White endive  Wild endive  


 Arnidiol  Caffeinic acid  Carbohydrates
 Coumestrol  Enzymes  Estrogens
 Fatty acids  Fructose  Glucose
 Glucosides  Gum  Inulin
 Lauric acid  Myristic acid  Pectins
 Phenolic acids  Plant acids  Resins
 Sitosterol  Stearic acid  Stigmasterol
 Sucrose  Tannins  Taraxasterol
 Taraxerol  Taraxol  Triterpenic acids

* For definition of some of the above terms see the dictionary section of this book.


 Calcium  Beta carotene  Choline
 Iron  Phosphorus  Potassium
 Sodium  UFA  Vitamin A
 Vitamin B-3  Vitamin B Complex  Vitamin C
 Vitamin D    

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Aperient - a mild laxative used to stimulate the bowels.

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 chemical-one effect.

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.

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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 administration.

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.

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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 this claim.


Known Interactions - None

Possible Interactions

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 hormones.

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 tetracyclines.

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