Oh, dandelion, dandelion... what a deeply misunderstood plant.
“Dandelion an herb? It fits the definition of a plant used for culinary and medicinal purposes. Of course, it is so common, so pervasive and so familiar, our association of it is with weeds. After all, we try every means possible to remove it from our lawns. Maybe the better tactic would be to remove the grass from our lawns and encourage the dandelion instead.” - Steven Foster.
Common names: blowball, cankerwort, lion’s tooth (dente de lion), priest’s crown, puffball, swine snout, wild endive
Family: Asteraceae, formerly Composite
Parts used: whole plant… roots, leaves, flowers, milky latex
Optimal harvesting time: Leaves harvested in spring or early spring are less bitter, get more bitter as season continues. Roots harvested in spring will have more fructose and roots in fall will have more inulin (good prebiotic, 40% in fall vs 2% in spring). Harvest flowers anytime in spring or summer.
Leaf - bitter, salty, cool
Root - Bitter, sweet, cooling, salty (nutritive)
Leaf – bitter tonic, diuretic (leaf), activity comparable to furosemide without potassium loss bc of high potassium content; antioxidant; antirheumatic; possible hypolipidemic effects
Root – bitter tonic; choleretic (increasing bile production and flow, mild laxative); cholagogue (increases contraction adn release of stored bile); hepatic enzyme induction (specific enzymes, supportive in phase 1 and phase 2 detox); alterative; anti-inflammatory (inhibit inflammatory cytokines); antioxidant; laxative/stimulate digestion; prebiotic (oligofructans stimulate growth of multiple strains of bifidobacteria); possible hypolipidemic effects; appetite stimulant; cholagogue; aperient; liver tonic
Whole plant - possible antidiabetic actions (encourages increased insulin secretion); anti-inflammatory.
Milky latex – antimitotic, wart relieving
Flower - antioxidant; very mild analgesic
- leaves as diuretic
- roots as liver tonic, spring tonic
- nutrient-rich food source
- roots roasted as coffee substitute
- flowers have often been made into preparations.. including food like baked goods, fritters, salads, and made into drinks (like dandelion wine)
If you'd like to incorporate dandelion into your kitchen, download this FREE collection of simple recipes, including dandelion chai, wild weeds pesto, dandelion flower muffins, dandelion-orange peel bitters, spicy sautéed dandy greens and roasted dandelion coffee recipe: herbalwomb.com/dandelion
Medicinal and Clinical Uses:
Dandelion leaves are a particularly rich source of potassium - also other minerals - iron, magnesium, zinc, manganese, copper, etc and vitamins A, C, D, B etc.
Increases diuresis, one of few diuretics with potassium so is a potassium sparing diuretic
Can be supportive for folks with high blood pressure due to fluid retention, including in elderly folks
Indicated when heat descends deep into tissues, slowing down drainage, inflaming deeper tissues, cools excess heat and thins and disperses surplus fluids (can be drying as an aquaretic/diuretic)
Can be used long term for edema (cardiac, circulatory, PMS, pulmonary) - reducing swelling of ankles, general puffiness and bloating as a potassium sparing diuretic
Can be supportive in prevention of kidney stones
Bitter tonic, enhances bile secretion and digestive function
- Bitter tonic stimulates hydrochloric acid, bile, pancreatic and small intestine secretions, which enhances digestion overall, digestive torpor (gas, farting, bloating), Stimulates appetite
- Great source of inulin and fructooligosaccharide (prebiotic) so helps encourage healthy bowel flora, may be supportive in gut healing protocols and also after antibiotics
- Can help alleviate nausea and relieve sour feeling in stomach, dyspepsia, biliousness
- Reduces liver congestion by encouraging optimal liver function, Improves detoxification
- Decreases bile duct inflammation
- Can be supportive in cases of hepatitis, preventing gallstones, or jaundice
- Can also be supportive in cases of high cholesterol, excess urea, gout
- Supportive for mild constipation, especially good for chronic constipation with clay colored stools, poor fat metabolism and sluggish liver function
- Aids in making iron, stored in liver, available in the body
- Helps regulate both blood sugar (by enhancing insulin secretion)
- Can be helpful in skin conditions characterized by some kind of stagnation, including varicose veins, cellulitis, eczema, acne
- Can help relieve itching of skin if due to impaired liver function
- Inflammatory and rheumatic conditions
antioxidant rich and can be made into a mild pain-relieving oil topically
Specific Uses for Menstrual, Hormonal, Sexual, & Generative Health
- PMS, especially with bloating or fluid retention and/or liver fire rising, breast tenderness
- Hormonal imbalances (including estrogen excess conditions like fibroids or hormonal acne)
- UTI’s (in addition to other herbs)
- Morning sickness
- Iron tonic syrup to prevent or treat anemia whether in pregnancy or with heavy menstrual bleeding
- Possibly supportive in prevention of pruritis and edema, especially in pregnancy
- Possibly balancing for blood sugar
- May be supportive in blood pressure regulation
- Nutrient rich food to support overall vitamin, mineral intake and nutrients in pregnancy and postpartum (or any phase of life)
- Fresh juice of leaves may be strongest form for diuresis
- infusion, 4-10g/2-3x/day
- tincture (50%) - 60-90 drops QID
- decoction, 2-8g, 3x/day OR 1-2tsp/8oz water, decoct 10 mins, then infuse 40 mins, 2-3 cups/day
- tincture, 5-10ml tid
- glycerite - 60-80 drops QID
If you’re allergic to dandelion, the most common challenge is skin dermatitis, which you probably already know. However, if you're allergic to chamomile, you could also be allergic to dandelion.
Theoretically, dandelion could potentiate diuretics & antihypertensives, so as always communicate with healthcare provider when adding herbs into your routine.
But to avoid dandelion if you have an obstruction of the bile ducts or serious gallbladder disease.
Pregnancy and Lactation -
Safe, though always good to avoid any herbs in first trimester unless needed
Super Nerdy References
Bone, K., & Mills, S. (2013). Principles and practice of phytotherapy: Modern herbal medicine (2nd ed.). Churchill Livingstone Elsevier: Edinburgh, Scotland.
Braun, L., & Cohen, M. (2015). Herbs & natural supplements: An evidence-based guide, volume 2 (4th ed.). Churchill Livingstone Elsevier: Sydney, Australia.
Foster, S. (1993). Herbal renaissance: Growing, using & understanding herbs in the modern world. Gibbs-Smith Publisher, Salt Lake City, UT.
González-Castejón, M., Visioli, F., & Rodriguez-Casado, A. (2012). Diverse biological activities of dandelion. Nutrition Reviews, 70(9), 534-47. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2012.00509.x.
Grieve, M. (1931). A modern herbal: The medicinal, culinary, cosmetic and economic properties, cultivation and folk-lore of herbs, grasses, fungi, shrubs & trees with their modern scientific uses, volume 1. Dover Publications Inc: New York, NY.
Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Healing Arts Press: Rochester, VT.
Kuhn, M., & Winston, D. (2008). Herbal therapy & supplements: A scientific and traditional approach (2nd edition). Wolters Kluwer: Philadelphia, PA.
McQuade Crawford, A. (1996). The herbal menopause book: Herbs, nutrition & other natural therapies. The Crossing Press: Freedom, CA.
Neves, L. (2020). Northeast medicinal plants: Identify, harvest and use 111 wild herbs for health and wellness. Timber Press Inc, Portland, OR.
Romm, A. (2003). The natural pregnancy book: Herbs, nutrition, and other holistic choices. Celestial Arts: Berkeley, CA.
Winston, D. (2003). Herbal therapeutics: Specific indications for herbs & herbal formulas (8th edition). Herbal Therapeutics Research Library: Broadway, NJ.
Wood, M. (2008). The earthwise herbal: A complete guide to old world medicinal plants. North Atlantic Books: Berkeley, CA.
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