Dandelion: What It Is For and How To Take It

Dandelion: what it is for and how to take it

Dandelion has many medicinal properties: diuretic, purifying and digestive. It can be taken in infusion or powder capsules.

What is dandelion?

The dandelion (Taraxacum officinale Weber) is a plant whose medicinal use has been documented since the beginning of the 11th century, through the writings of well-deserved Persian doctors such as Ibn Sina, better known as Avicenna, and his predecessor Al-Razi or Razí, to whom the current “Razi Medical Research Institute” owes its name, located near Tehran (Iran).

Plant

The dandelion is a herbaceous plant , belonging to the Compositae family, which does not usually grow beyond 35 cm in height. It has a conical, short and quite branched rhizome, with a bittersweet taste. Its leaves (with a bitter taste when they are grown) are deeply toothed and form a rosette at the base from which the flowering stems grow, which are hollow and upright and end in a yellow flower head.

These edible flowers bear fruit in the form of achenes, forming a sphere of white and silky pappus (set of feathery hairs) that fly with the air, thus helping to spread their seeds; In some regions , country children use to blow on the achenes to make the pappus fly, which they call little angels.

Mainly the root of this plant is used , but also the leaves and even the entire plant without the inflorescences. Although it is native to Europe and Asia , it can now be found all over the world. It grows both in meadows and in vacant lots, roadside ditches and even in flower pots, often being considered a weed.

Curiosities about his name

The name of dandelion with which it is popularly known in almost all languages ​​is due to the shape of its trimmed leaves , similar to sharp and curved teeth. However, other names by which it is also known refer to its properties. Thus, the Castilian taraxacón or the Italian tarassaco come from its Latin name Taraxacum, which means “remove” and alludes to its mildly laxative properties.

In French it is known as pis-en-lit , alluding to its diuretic properties, since the tender leaves of the dandelion are edible and very pleasant in a salad. In times of scarcity they formed an important part of the early spring diet and it is said that children who ate a lot of dandelion wet the bed for its diuretic effect .

 

What is dandelion good for?

As mentioned, Avicenna already records in his writings the use of dandelion to stimulate the production of bile and urine . In the 16th century, its use was consolidated and its diuretic properties resulting from increased urine production and its double action on the liver were described: on the one hand, it stimulates the production of bile (choleretic effect) and, on the other, its emptying from the gallbladder to the duodenum, facilitating the digestion of fats. This double effect on the liver and kidneys and its mild laxative action mean that dandelion is considered a good purifying and digestive plant.

Already in the 20th century, in the 1940s, Dr. Henri Leclerc (1870-1954) pointed out the improvement obtained by using dandelion infusions in certain skin problems such as eczema, rashes and itching, in those patients in whom the dermatological problems coincided with problems of insufficient liver function, due to the relationship between good liver function and skin health .

Dandelion is indicated in the monograph of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) as a medicine for traditional use (MTP) for mild digestive disorders (such as a feeling of abdominal fullness, flatulence and slow digestion) and to increase the amount of urine and cleanse the urinary tract and kidneys. Due to its bitter taste it also has an aperitif effect and can be used to whet the appetite.

Indications and therapeutic uses

Traditional medicine has used dandelion as a treatment for various physical conditions, conditions, and illnesses. However, not all of them have been supported by scientific evidence. Currently, laboratory studies are trying to determine how to use its different properties to treat various pathologies in a more natural way. Among the main properties of dandelion we find:

  • Nutritious: dandelion leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, they have a rich nutritional content in vitamin A, C, E and K, it also stands out in group B vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and silicon. Finally, it is rich in inulin, a type of fiber that strengthens the intestinal microbiota.
  • Digestive: it is a bitter tonic that favors the stimulation of gastric juices involved in digestion. Due to its inulin content, it helps to improve states of constipation and irritable bowel syndrome due to its fiber content and prebiotic effect.
  • Choleretic and hepatic protector: exerts action on the liver and gallbladder favoring the formation and secretion of bile, which facilitates the digestion of fats and prevents the formation of gallstones. It also has the ability to regenerate the liver and protect it from toxic substances.
  • Diuretic: it favors the production of urine and helps eliminate excess water from our body, which is why it is recommended as a treatment for kidney stones and as a depurative in general in seasonal cures.

How to take it?

It can be taken in tisane, fluid extract (drops) or capsules of powder or dry extract , either from the leaves, the root, or a mixture of both.

  • Generally, if it is the root, the dose is the equivalent of 3-5 g, up to three times a day.
  • In the case of the leaves, the equivalent of 4 to 10 g, up to three times a day.
  • In the case of root and leaf mixture 3.5 – 7.5 g, up to three times a day.

For fluid extracts (drops) and powder or dry extract capsules , it is recommended to follow the manufacturer’s laboratory instructions.

How to prepare a tisane

The Registration Agency of the German Ministry of Health (Standardzulassung) recommends the following preparation for the mixture of roots and leaves :

  • Bring 1-2 teaspoons of the mixture to a boil in about 150 ml of water, bring to a boil, remove from heat and let stand 15 minutes. Filter and sweeten to taste.

Regarding the dose of the tisane prepared in this way, it indicates that, unless otherwise prescribed, one cup of freshly prepared infusion can be taken in the morning and another at night.

 

Contraindications, adverse effects and recommendations

Dandelion should never be used in case of biliary problems without the supervision of a doctor and is contraindicated in case of obstruction of the bile ducts. Because it contains bitter substances, dandelion stimulates the production of gastric juice, which can cause gastric discomfort and hyperacidity in certain people.

To avoid this problem, a plant with mucilage such as marshmallow can be added to the infusion mixture , and in the case of taking a liquid preparation, the drops can be added to an infusion of malva or marshmallow. Capsules of dandelion powder or dry extract can also be taken with an infusion of these plants.

NOTE THAT…

Dandelion preparations should not be taken in the event that for any reason the production of gastric juices must be reduced or in case of taking antacid medications.

Dandelion can increase the effect of some medications such as diuretics, anticoagulants and neuromuscular blockers , so if you take medications, it is recommended to consult your doctor or pharmacist whether or not to take dandelion.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW…
  • It is a herbaceous plant whose roots and leaves are used as a natural medicine for digestive disorders.
  • It was first used to stimulate the production of bile and urine.
  • Capsules of dandelion powder or dry extract can be taken with an infusion of these plants.
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