Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a botanical rich in beta-carotene and potassium. In herbal medicine, dandelion is typically used for its appetite-stimulating, digestion-aiding, and laxative effects.
Why Do People Use Dandelion Root?
Herbalists often use dandelion in treatment of the following conditions:
Benefits of Dandelion
Although there is little scientific support for the medicinal use of dandelion, a number of studies suggest that the herb may help lessen inflammation and kill bacteria.
Here's a look at several findings on dandelion's other health effects:
In a 2003 study, scientists found that dandelion flower extract may fight free radicals (chemical by-products known to damage DNA).
Tests on diabetic mice show that dandelion extract may help regulate blood sugar and keep cholesterol in check. Of course, animal studies don't confirm similar efficacy in humans.
Preliminary research suggests that dandelion may show promise as an anti-cancer agent. In a 2008 study on breast and prostate cancer cells, researchers found that dandelion leaf extract slowed the growth of breast cancer cells and stopped the spread of prostate cancer cells. However, neither dandelion flower extract nor dandelion root extract had any effect on either type of cancer cell.
Safety Concerns and Precautions
While dandelion is generally considered safe, some people experience side effects such as heartburn, diarrhea, and upset stomach.
Anyone with an allergy to dandelion, ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigold, chamomile, yarrow, daisies, or iodine should avoid use of this herb. Individuals with an inflamed or infected gallbladder, or blocked bile ducts, should also avoid medicinal use of dandelion.
How to Use Dandelion
Capsules, tinctures, and teas containing dandelion leaves, roots, flowers, or the entire plant can be found in many health food stores. Dandelion leaves can also be consumed as food, in salads or as a cooked green.
Hu C, Kitts DD. "Antioxidant, prooxidant, and cytotoxic activities of solvent-fractionated dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) flower extracts in vitro." Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2003 1;51(1):301-10.
Petlevski R, Hadzija M, Slijepcevic M, Juretic D. "Effect of 'antidiabetis' herbal preparation on serum glucose and fructosamine in NOD mice." Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2001;75(2-3):181-184.
Sigstedt SC, Hooten CJ, Callewaert MC, Jenkins AR, Romero AE, Pullin MJ, Kornienko A, Lowrey TK, Slambrouck SV, Steelant WF. "Evaluation of aqueous extracts of Taraxacum officinale on growth and invasion of breast and prostate cancer cells." International Journal of Oncology 2008 32(5):1085-90.
Swanston-Flatt SK, Day C, Flatt PR, Gould BJ, Bailey CJ. "Glycaemic effects of traditional European plant treatments for diabetes. Studies in normal and streptozotocin diabetic mice." Diabetes Research 1989;10(2):69-73.