The therapeutic effectiveness of dandelion has not been significantly investigated under clinical trial conditions, so evidence is derived from traditional, in vitro and animal studies.
Dandelion has a long history of use as a diuretic in well-established systems of traditional medicines; however, the scientific and clinical evidence to support this use is limited to animal studies. The high potassium content of dandelion is considered to be partly responsible for any diuretic activity.
A double-blind randomised study of 57 women with recurrent cystitis found that a commercial preparation known as Uva-E (a combination of Arctostaphylos leaves and dandelion root) significantly reduced the frequency of recurrence of cystitis compared with placebo. At the end of 12 months, none of the patients taking Uva-E had had a recurrence of cystitis, compared with 23% recurrence in the control group (P < 0.05). The role of dandelion in achieving this result is unknown; however, the researchers suggested that its diuretic effect was likely to have contributed to the positive results.
Dandelion has a long history of use as a liver tonic; however, the scientific and clinical evidence to support this use is limited. Preliminary studies suggest that dandelion root stimulates the flow of bile.
Commission E approves the use of dandelion root and herb for disturbances in bile flow, loss of appetite and dyspepsia.
Dandelion has been used traditionally as a source of minerals and for treating diabetes, rheumatic conditions, heartburn, bruises and for recurrent hives, urticaria and eczema. It has also been used to treat various digestive complaints such as dyspepsia, lack of appetite and constipation, as well as treating warts and for breast and uterine cancers.
• Infusion of dried herb: 4-10 g three times daily.
• Fluid extract (25%): 4-10 mL three times daily.
• Fresh juice: 10-20 mL three times daily.
• Decoction of dried root: 2-8 g three times daily.
• Tincture (1:5): 5-10 mL three times daily.
• Fluid extract (30%): 2-8 mL three times daily.
• Juice of fresh root: 4-8 mL three times daily.
Dandelion is generally considered safe when consumed in amounts commonly found in foods. Cross-reactivity may exist between dandelion and other members of the Compositae (Asteraceae) family, such as ragweed, mugwort, sunflower, daisy and chamomile.
Controlled studies are not available; therefore, interactions are based on evidence of activity and are largely theoretical and speculative.
Dandelion leaf may theoretically interact with other diuretics, although the clinical significance of this is unknown — observe patient.
The high mineral content of dandelion may result in the formation of chelate complexes with quinolone antibiotics and reduce their absorption and bioavailability. This has been demonstrated in rats with Taraxacum mongolicum (Chinese dandelion). While the clinical significance of this is unknown, it is recommended to avoid concomitant use of these substances or to separate their dosing.
Contraindications and Precautions
It is recommended that dandelion not be used by people with obstruction of the bile ducts or other serious diseases of the gall bladder.
Based on a long history of use in traditional medicine, dandelion is generally considered safe in pregnancy and lactation.
Practice Points / Patient Counselling
• Dandelion leaf and root have a long tradition of culinary and medicinal use.
• Dandelion has been traditionally used as a diuretic and liver tonic. It has also been used to treat various digestive complaints such as dyspepsia, lack of appetite and constipation.
• The therapeutic effectiveness of dandelion has not been significantly investigated under clinical trial conditions, so evidence is derived from traditional, in vitro and animal studies.
• Dandelion is generally considered to be safe and non-toxic, but may cause allergy in people allergic to ragweed and daisies.
Answers to Patients’ Frequently Asked Questions
What will this do for me?
In practice, dandelion is used to improve digestion and detoxification, as a diuretic and laxative and to treat diabetes, rheumatic conditions, heartburn, bruises and for recurrent hives, urticaria and eczema. Controlled studies are not available to determine its effectiveness in these conditions.
When will it work?
Stimulation of digestive processes is thought to occur rapidly after one dose.
Are there any safety issues?
Dandelion is generally considered to be safe and non-toxic but may cause allergy in people allergic to ragweed and daisies.