Dandelion

Taraxacum officinale

Description

Dandelion is a yellow-flowered plant that is usually regarded as an enemy by gardeners throughout the world. It is however also grown commercially for its medicinal properties. Dandelion has been used for healing purposes since the 10th century. The roots and leaves contain vitamins and minerals and are an excellent diuretic, and the flowers can be infused to make wine. The plant is a close relative of chicory, and its roots can be roasted to use as a caffeine-free coffee substitute.

Parts used

Roots, leaves and flowers.

Constituents

The main constituents in the dandelion that account for its health benefits are bitter sesquiterpene lactone compounds, some of which are unique to this plant. The leaves contain vitamins A, C, D and B complex, as well as the minerals iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, copper, calcium, chlorine, silicon and boron. The flowers are rich in carotene.

Medicinal uses

Dandelion has been used for generations as a medicine for conditions such as fevers, diarrhoea, fluid retention and as a liver tonic. It is even recommended by some practitioners to treat disorders affecting the liver. Dandelion promotes the formation of bile, helping to prevent gallstones. It acts as a tonic and stimulant by removing the toxins and poisons that cause inflammation in the joints, relieving the symptoms of rheumatism, arthritis and other kinds of chronic joint pain. Some practitioners also recommend it to prevent osteoporosis. It may also help lower ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood. The plant’s main use is as a diuretic (to decrease water retention) and the extract is often combined with other diuretic agents such as horsetail extract to intensify results. Generally, dandelion affects body secretions and helps the body excrete waste.

  • Acts as a detoxifier.
  • Stimulates bile flow.
  • Eases the symptoms of joint pain, rheumatism and arthritis.
  • Supports the function of all major organs in the body – liver, gallbladder, kidneys, bladder, pancreas, spleen and stomach.
  • Helps prevent the formation of kidney stones.
  • Helps lower cholesterol levels.
  • May have beneficial effects in treating colitis and diabetes.
  • Acts as a digestive stimulant.
  • Is a mild laxative.

CAUTION

Talk to your medical practitioner before taking any herbal supplements.
Although dandelion has no known serious side effects, in large doses it may cause upset stomach or skin rash. Always consult your medical practitioner before taking natural remedies, especially if you have existing health problems, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or are on medications.

Flora Force Products containing Dandelion

Domestic & culinary uses

Do not use the dandelions that grow in your garden. These have hairy, dull green leaves and a solid stem; Taraxacum officinale has light green, deeply indented leaves, a hollow stem and daisy-like flower petals with bracts that are open in a distinctively downward-turning manner. Purchase organically grown plants from your health-food store or holistic garden centre. Steam the flowers and young leaves as you would spinach – they have a pleasant, slightly bitter flavour and are perfect in salads, especially when dressed with the pan oils left from frying bacon. You can also sauté the leaves with olive oil and garlic.

Cultivation

Taraxacum officinale is a hardy perennial that can be grown in most areas in South Africa, except at the coast. Plant it in full or partial sun in any soil type in deep window boxes to avoid the plants spreading. Cut off the flowers before they go to seed.

Photo credits

  1. Via Wikimedia – Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé: Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany. Permission granted to use under GFDL by Kurt Stueber. Source: www.biolib.de
Information in our herb library is intended only as a general reference for further exploration. It is not a replacement for professional health advice and does not provide complete dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription medicines. Accordingly, this information should only be used under the direct supervision of a suitably qualified health practitioner such as a registered homeopath, naturopath or phytotherapist.