Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion: Medical Uses

Dandelion root is used most often for liver disease and to increase bile flow. The root is also used as a coffee substitute. The leaves are used primarily for their diuretic effect and for adolescent acne.

Historical Uses

Dandelion first appeared in the 10th century in Arabian medicine and has been used as a diuretic, a treatment for anemia, a blood tonic, a mild laxative, and an appetite stimulant. Europeans used dandelion to treat diabetes. It is reported that dandelion is more nutritious than spinach. It may have antiviral properties that help prevent herpes. It also has been used to treat premenstrual syndrome and hepatitis. It is also called lion’s tooth and wild endive.


Dandelions grow in lawns and fields throughout the spring and summer in the northern hemisphere and are usually considered weeds. The plant has “lion-toothed” leaves and a bright yellow upright flower.

Parts Used

• Leaves

• Roots

• All parts are edible

Major Chemical Compounds

• Chicoric acid

• Monocaffeytartaric acid

• Taraxacin (bitter)

• Taraxacerin

• Sesquiterpene lactones

• Phytosterols

• Iron

• Vitamins A, B, and C

One ounce of fresh dandelion leaves contains large amounts of vitamin A and calcium and moderate amounts of vitamin B1, vitamin C, sodium, potassium, and trace elements. One cup of dandelion greens provides nearly a day’s requirement of vitamin A and one-third the daily requirement of vitamin C. Dandelions contain more calcium than broccoli.

Dandelion: Clinical Uses

The root is most often used for liver disease and to increase bile flow Leaves are used primarily for their diuretic effects and for adolescent acne. The leaf is approved by the German Commission E for “loss of appetite and dyspepsia.” The root is approved for “bile flow disturbances, stimulation of diuresis, loss of appetite, and dyspepsia”. The root is also used as a coffee substitute.

Mechanism of Action

Dandelion is helpful in digestion because the root contains sesquiterpene lactones and taraxacin (Natural Medicines, 2000). Diuretic effects using dandelion extracts have been noted in animal studies. Increases in bile secretion are thought to result from bitter chemical compounds. The leaves are high in vitamin A, which is needed for healthy skin.

Dandelion: Dosage

Fresh greens: Pick fresh dandelion greens in the spring, wash them well, and steam them like spinach. Or add fresh dandelion greens to salads. Add the flowers to vinegars or for food decoration.

Tea: As an infusion, dandelion tea may be consumed up to three times a day. Use one tablespoon of herb and root in 150 mL of water, boil for 5 to 10 minutes, strain, and drink (.

Capsules: 500 to 1000 mg of dried herb up to 4 times a day.

Side Effects

Dandelion may cause mild intestinal discomfort because of its bitterness. It may also have a laxative effect.

Dandelion: Contraindications

• Dandelion is contraindicated if patient has obstruction of the bile ducts, gallbladder empyema, ileus, or gallstones.

• Do not collect leaves or roots along roadways or where pesticides have been used.

Herb-Drug Interactions

None are known.

Pregnancy and Breast-Feeding

Dandelion is safe when consumed as a food.


• Because of its bitterness, dandelion may cause mild intestinal discomfort.

• Dandelion may have a laxative effect.

• Don’t take dandelion if you have obstruction of the bile duct, gallbladder problems, or gallstones.

• No herb-drug interactions are known.

• Dandelion is safe for pregnant and breast-feeding women when consumed as a food.