DANDELION

Taraxacum officinale

Description

Belonging to the Asteraceae family, Dandelion is a perennial herb with a primary tap root. The Dandelion leaves are toothed and glabrous and grow between 3-35cm tall. They are characteristically bitter to taste. The flowers are golden yellow and bloom most of the year with the main season in spring. Each seed is attached to a white Pappus, a tuft of hair that assists the dispersal of the seed by wind.

Habitat and Cultivation

Dandelion is found in a wide variety of habitats, particularly in grasslands, lawns and gardens. It is considered a weed as it self-sows and does not require cultivation. It provides the best quality leaves and roots in deep, moist soil. Drought and frost resistant.

Parts Used

Leaves gathered throughout the year best harvested before flowering.

Roots dug from plants two years old or more, harvested in autumn.

Active Constituents

Sesquiterpene lactones, which give the herb its bitterness; Flavonoids, phenolic acids, carotenoids, triterpenoids, and coumarins. The root also contains tannins, mucilage, volatile oil and polysaccharides including inulin up to 40% in autumn.

Vitamins A, B, C and D, potassium, iron and copper in the leaf and root. Calcium, sodium and zinc in the root.

Actions

Diuretic (leaves) – increases the production and flow of urine

Hepatic tonic / Choleretic (root) – Used to strengthen, tone and stimulate bile secretions, improving liver function

Colagogue (root) – stimulates or aids the release of bile from the gall bladder

Mild laxative – stimulate or facilitate evacuation of the bowels

Antilithic – prevents the formation of calculi (stones) which can occur in the urinary system or gall bladder

Nutritive – an agent that nourishes the body

Therapeutics

Dandelion is used to improve digestion and detoxification. There are two main parts of the Dandelion plant that we use medicinally, the root and the leaves. Dandelion root is primarily used to support liver function and stimulate digestive secretions. These actions help with indigestion, poor appetite, constipation, inflammation of the gallbladder and supporting normal liver function. The leaves are a strong diuretic and extremely helpful in cases of fluid retention. They are particularly high in potassium, which conveniently helps to replace potassium lost through its diuretic action. The root is also known as a diuretic, although more mild than the leaves, and can assist the liver to eliminate toxins at a faster rate

Safety / Contraindications / Interactions

Dandelion is generally considered to be safe, however it is recommended that it not be used by people with obstruction of the bile ducts, if gallstones are present or in cases of other serious diseases of the gall bladder. People with known allergy to the Asteraceae family (Daisy family) should avoid topical application of the leaf or leaf products, due to the possibility of contact dermatitis.

Traditional Uses

The young Dandelion leaves can be added to salads, providing a good source of minerals and a bitter flavour, stimulating digestion.

Legend has it that the common name ‘Dandelion’ originated from the Latin words ‘dens leonis’ meaning a lions tooth. The shape of the leaves resemble the lions tooth, and the bright yellow flower, the lions mane.


References;

Materia Medica of Western Herbs by Carole Fisher

Herbs and Natural Supplements; An evidence-based guide 3rd edition by Lesley Braun and Marc Cohen

A Clinical Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs by Kerry Bone

The Constituents of Medicinal Plants by Andrew Pengelly