- Family Asteraceae (formerly Compositae)
- Taraxacum officinale
- Blowball, Cankerwort, Lion’s Tooth, Priest’s Crown, Swine Snout, Wild Endive, Taraxacum, Puff-Ball, Sin In The Grass, Diente de León (Spanish), Pu Gong Ying (Chinese)
- Do not use the plant unless sure it is free of chemical sprays.
- If sucked excessively by children, the milky juice can cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, as well as excessive urination.
There are considered to be about 600 species of dandelion found throughout the world where, in many cases, it is considered a noxious weed. One seed from a dandelion blown by the wind can start 200 or more new plants. It is also cultivated in many parts, including France and Germany.
The plant is closely related to chicory, a perennial growing to as much as twenty inches high producing ragged, saw-toothed leaves, hollow stalks, and golden flowers that quickly go to seed, leaving a “puffball” head that is dispersed in the breeze. The young leaves are picked in the spring for tonic salads and later for use as a medicine, while the roots are unearthed in autumn from two-year-old plants.
Dandelion was recommended in the works of Arab physicians in the 11th century and in an herbal written by the physicians of Myddfai in Wales in the 13th century.
Its name was apparently invented by a 15th century surgeon who compared the shape of the leaves to a lion’s tooth.
Dandelion was not mentioned in Chinese herbals until the 7th century CE, nor did it appear in Europe until 1485. While Western herbalists separate the leaves and the root, the Chinese use the whole plant.
Dandelion is such a valuable herb that, it is said, if it were as rare as ginseng, it would command a similar price.
A strong diuretic, its properties are absorbed through the skin. Young children who handle the flowers too much will have nocturnal enuresis, or wet the bed. This was the name given to it in former times (Wet-the-beds), and obviously recognized before the active principles in the plant were discovered and chemically isolated.
Frontier healers recommended dandelion as a spring tonic, and it is credited with saving the lives of the pioneers in winter because of its high vitamin content. Brought to America from Europe, it soon became a noxious weed found everywhere.
Native Americans used it for many reasons, including treating skin problems such as acne, eczema, and hives. The Pillager-Ojibwa made a dandelion root tea as a treatment for heartburn, while the Cherokee used the tea to calm nerves. The Iroquois used dandelion for a wide variety of conditions, including anemia, constipation, pain, and water retention. Many tribes chewed the dried sap like chewing gum and even roasted the root to make a coffee substitute.
The dandelion was used in the New Mexico region of the US since it was introduced by the Spanish around 1820. Some tribal remedies included boiling the blooms in water until the water turned a bright yellow. The liquid was then allowed to sit outside overnight and a glassful drunk every morning for a month to cure heart trouble. Others ground the leaves and applied the paste to broken bones and wrapping the area with bandages encrusted with fresh leaves to speed healing. The leaves could also be ground and added to dough to be applied to bad bruises to “take the blood out”.
In 1748, a traveller in French Canada discovered that the roots of the dandelion were used in salad as a tonic.
In the mid-18th century in Pennylvania, a large group of Mennonites brought the dandelion with them when they fled from religious persecution in Germany. They used the roots mainly for kidney and liver problems, manifested by the yellowing of the skin. The Shakers, in the mid-19th century US, also used the herb for liver problems.
- liver and digestive tonic
- liver tonic
- mildly laxative
- promotes bile flow
(a) Flowers and Seeds
- vitamins A, B, C, and D (containing over 13,000 IU of vitamin A in 100 grams).
- sequiterpene lactones
- bitter glycosides
- minerals (including calcium, iron, potassium, silicon, boron, magnesium, and zinc)
- volatile oil
- Leaves, flowers, fresh seeds, root
- Chinese scientists have discovered that dandelion extracts have bactericidal effects against a number of nasty bacteria including S. aureus and those responsible for diphtheria, tuberculosis, and pneumonia.
Fresh leaves are eaten as a vegetable in salads as a cleansing remedy.
Juice from the leaves is taken when a diuretic action is needed.
An infusion is less effective, as a diuretic, than the juice; but it makes a good cleansing remedy for toxic conditions, including gout and eczema. It is also used as a gentle liver and digestive stimulant.
The white sap from the stem and root can be used as a topical remedy for warts.
Tinctures are often added to other herbal remedies for heart failure and to ensure adequate potassium intake.
Tinctures from the roots are used for such toxic conditions as gout, eczema, or acne; and are also prescribed as a liver stimulant in certain liver disorders and related constipation.
Decoctions from the root are used for the same conditions as the tincture.
In China, the flowers, leaves, root, and seed heads of either the common dandelion or from an Oriental species (T. mongolicum). The Chinese have used dandelions for more than a thousand years as a diuretic, hypoglycemic, antispasmodic, anticancer, antibacterial, and antifungal agent. It was used for such conditions as abscesses, appendicitis, boils, caries, dermatitis, fevers, inflammations, leucorrhea, liver ailments, mastitis, scrofula, snakebites, and stomachaches.
Although the leaves are an effective diuretic, they also contain significant amounts of potassium, a mineral generally lost when using conventional medications. It is used in cases of fluid retention, especially with heart problems. It has been used successfully to treat several kidney ailments and chronic hypertension.
The leaves are an effective liver and digestive tonic. The root, which has a shorter history of medicinal use, is also good for the liver.
Both the leaf and the root have a marked action on the gallbladder, and are used to prevent gallstones. The leaf may also help dissolve already formed stones.
The bitter, milky sap is used externally to heal wounds, remove warts, moles, pimples, calluses, and sores. It is also used to soothe bee stings and blisters.
The sap, leaves, and root extracts are ingested for its diuretic properties, to stimulate stomach secretions and aid in digestion, to relieve constipation and control diarrhea, to stimulate bile production, to treat liver disorders, to prevent or lower high blood pressure, to stimulate milk flow in nursing mothers, to relieve the pain of endometriosis, and to inhibit plaque buildup on teeth.
In Costa Rica, dandelions are sold as a treatment for diabetes.
In Guatemala, two different types of dandelions are used. The narrow-leafed variety, called diente de leon, is used as a tonic for generalized body health, while the other variety, called amargon, is used as a salad green and blood strengthener, especially in cases of anemia.
In Brazil, the herb is also used as a blood purifier used to treat liver problems, scurvy, and urinary complaints.