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dandelion (generic name)

an herbal product - treats Anti-inflammatory, Diuretic, Hepatitis B, Antioxidant, Colitis, Cancer, and Diabetes
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Alternate Title

Taraxacum officinale

Category

Herbs & Supplements

Synonyms

Artemetin, Asteraceae (family), beta-carotene, blowball, caffeic acid, cankerwort, Cichoroideae (sub-family), clock flower, common dandelion, Compositae (family), dandelion herb, dandelion T-1 extract, dent de lion, diente de lion, dudhal, dumble-dor, epoxide, esculetin, fairy clock, fortune teller, hokouei-kon, huang hua di ding, Irish daisy, Lactuceae (tribe), Leontodon taraxacum, lion's teeth, lion's tooth, lowenzahn (German), lowenzahnwurzel (German), maelkebotte, milk gowan, min-deul-rre, mok's head, mongoloid dandelion, pee in the bed, pissenlit, piss-in-bed, potassium, pries' crown, priest's crown, puffball, pu gong ying, pu kung ying, Radix taraxaci, swine snout, taraxaci herba, taraxacum, Taraxacum mongolicum, Taraxacum palustre, Taraxacum vulgare, taraxasteryl acetate, telltime, vitamin A, white endive, wild endive, witch gowan, witches' milk, yellow flower earth nail.

Background

Dandelion is a member of the Asteraceae/Compositae family closely related to chicory. It is a perennial herb native to the Northern hemisphere and found growing wild in meadows, pastures, and waste grounds of temperate zones. Most commercial dandelion is cultivated in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and the United Kingdom.

Dandelion was commonly used in Native American medicine. The Iroquois, Ojibwe, and Rappahannock prepared the root and herb to treat kidney disease, upset stomach, and heartburn. In traditional Arabian medicine, dandelion has been used to treat liver and spleen ailments. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), dandelion is combined with other herbs to treat liver disease, to enhance immune response to upper respiratory tract infections, bronchitis, or pneumonia, and as a compress for mastitis (breast inflammation).

Dandelion root and leaf are used widely in Europe for gastrointestinal ailments. The European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy (ESCOP) recommends dandelion root for the restoration of liver function, to treat upset stomach, and to treat loss of appetite. The German Commission E authorizes the use of combination products containing dandelion root and herb for similar illnesses. Some modern naturopathic physicians assert that dandelion can detoxify the liver and gallbladder, reduce side effects of medications metabolized (processed) by the liver, and relieve symptoms associated with liver disease.

Dandelion is generally regarded as safe with rare side effects including contact dermatitis, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal upset.

Dandelion is used as a salad ingredient, and the roasted root and its extracts are sometimes used as a coffee substitute.

Evidence

DISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Anti-inflammatory: Research in laboratory animals suggests that dandelion root may possess anti-inflammatory properties. There is a lack of well-conducted human studies currently available in this area.
Grade: C

Antioxidant: Several laboratory studies report antioxidant properties of dandelion flower extract, although this research is preliminary, and effects in humans are not known.
Grade: C

Cancer: Limited animal research does not provide a clear assessment of the effects of dandelion on tumor growth. There is a lack of well-conducted human studies currently available in this area.
Grade: C

Colitis: There is a report with several patients that suggests that a combination herbal preparation containing dandelion improved chronic pain associated with colitis. Because multiple herbs were used, and this study was not well-designed or reported, the effects of dandelion are not clear.
Grade: C

Diabetes: There is limited research on the effects of dandelion on blood sugar levels in animals. Effects in humans are not known.
Grade: C

Diuretic (increased urine flow): Dandelion leaves have traditionally been used to increase urine production and excretion. Animal studies report mixed results, and there is a lack of reliable human research in this area.
Grade: C

Hepatitis B: One human study reports improved liver function in people with hepatitis B after taking a combination herbal preparation containing dandelion root, called Jiedu Yanggan Gao (also including Artemisia capillaris, Taraxacum mongolicum, Plantago seed, Cephalanoplos segetum, Hedyotis diffusa, Flos chrysanthemi indici, Smilax glabra, Astragalus membranaceus, Salviae miltiorrhizae, Fructus polygonii orientalis, Radix paeoniae alba, and Polygonatum sibiricum). Because multiple herbs were used and this study was not well designed or reported, the effects of dandelion are not clear.
Grade: C

Tradition

WARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Abscess, acne, age spots, AIDS, alcohol withdrawal, allergies, analgesia, anemia, anorexia, antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, antiviral, aphthous ulcers, arthritis, benign prostate hypertrophy (enlarged prostate), bile flow stimulation, bladder irritation, blood purifier, boils, breast augmentation, breast cancer, breast infection, breast inflammation, breast milk stimulation, bronchitis, bruises, cardiovascular disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, circulation, clogged arteries, coffee substitute, congestive heart failure, dandruff, diarrhea, dropsy (swelling), dyspepsia (upset stomach), eye problems, fertility, fever reduction, food uses, frequent urination, gallbladder disease, gallstones, gas, gastrointestinal inflammation (appendicitis), gout (painful inflammation), headache, heartburn, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, HIV, hormonal abnormalities, immune stimulation, increased sweating, jaundice, kidney disease, kidney stones, laxative, leukemia, liver cleansing, liver disease, menopause, menstrual period stimulation, muscle aches, nutrition, obesity, osteoarthritis, pneumonia, pregnancy (including postpartum support), premenstrual syndrome (PMS), psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, skin conditions, skin toner, smoking cessation, spleen problems, stiff joints, stimulant, stomachache, urinary stimulant, urinary tract inflammation, warts, weight loss.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older)

There is no proven effective dose for dandelion in adults. However, doses of 2-8 grams of dried root taken by mouth in an infusion or decoction have been used.

Doses of 4-8 milliliters of a 1:1 leaf fluid extract in 25 percent alcohol have been used.

Doses of 1-2 teaspoons of a 1:5 root tincture in 45 percent alcohol have been used.

Children (younger than 18 years)

There is not enough scientific research to recommend dandelion for use in children in amounts greater than those found in food.

Safety

DISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.

Allergies

Dandelion should be avoided by individuals with known allergy to honey, chamomile, chrysanthemums, yarrow, feverfew, or any members of the Asteraceae/Compositae plant families (ragweed, sunflower, daisies).

The most common type of allergy is dermatitis (skin inflammation) after direct skin contact with dandelion, which may include itching, rash, or red/swollen or eczematous areas on the skin. Skin reactions have also been reported in dogs.

Rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma have been reported after handling products, such as birdfeed, containing dandelion and other herbs with reported positive skin tests for dandelion hypersensitivity.

Side Effects and Warnings

Dandelion has been well tolerated in a small number of available human studies. Safety of use beyond four months has not been evaluated.

The most common reported adverse effects are skin allergy, eczema, and increased sun sensitivity following direct contact.

According to traditional accounts, gastrointestinal symptoms may occur, including stomach discomfort, diarrhea, and heartburn.

Parasitic infection due to ingestion of contaminated dandelion has been reported, affecting the liver and bile ducts, and characterized by fever, stomach upset, vomiting, loss of appetite, coughing, and liver damage.

Dandelion may lower blood sugar levels based on one animal study, although another study notes no changes. Effects in humans are not known. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or low blood sugar, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Serum glucose levels may need to be monitored by a healthcare professional, and medication adjustments may be necessary.

In theory, due to chemicals called coumarins found in dandelion leaf extracts, dandelion may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).

Historically, dandelion is believed to possess diuretic (increased urination) properties and to lower blood potassium levels. Use cautiously in patients with kidney failure.

Dandelion may be prepared as a tincture containing high levels of alcohol. Tinctures should therefore be avoided during pregnancy or when driving or operating heavy machinery.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Dandelion cannot be recommended during pregnancy and breastfeeding in amounts greater than found in foods, due to a lack of scientific information. Many tinctures contain high levels of alcohol and should be avoided during pregnancy.

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