This genus of about 60 species of perennials is found in northern temperate regions and temperate parts of S America. The best-known member of this genus is T. officinale (dandelion), which is a potent diuretic, hence the French name, pissenlit, "wet the bed". It contains high levels of potassium salts; this is an advantage in a strong diuretic because large amounts are lost in urine. It was first described in Chinese medicine c.CE659 and in European medicine in 1485, although there are possible mentions dating back to Pliny (CE23-79). Promoted by Arab physicians in the 11th century, and mentioned by the physicians of Myddfai, Wales, in the 13th century; it became an "officinal" drug by the 16th century. The dandelion is grown as a vegetable, particularly in France, where improved forms were selected during the 19th century. Like chicory, it is very bitter but may be blanched or soaked in water for an hour or so before use. Taraxacum comes from the medieval Latin, which in turn was derived from the Arabic tarakhshaqún, "wild chicory" or "bitter herb".

A humble weed that grows uninvited in many gardens, dandelion is a medicine that can play several roles: liver and gallbladder stimulant; mild laxative; blood cleanser; wart remover;and powerful diuretic that has earned the English name of "pee in the bed".

Variable perennial with a thick tap root, white lates, and a basal rosette of entire, saw-toothed of pinnately lobed leaves, to 24cm (10in) long. Solitary, bright yellow flowers, to 6cm (2½in) across, appear from spring to autumn, followed by ribbed fruits, bearing a tuft of fine white hairs.

Common Name:
Other Names:
Blowball, Fairy Clock, Irish Daisy, Lion's Tooth, Priest's Crown, Swine's Snout, Telltime, Wild Endive
Botanical Name:
Taraxacum officinale
Native Location:
Cosmopolitan weed
Moist to dry, neutral to alkaline soil in sun. Dandelion crops should be deadheaded to prevent seeding. Regenerates from tap root, and is difficult to eradicate once established. Leaves are prone to powdery mildew; roots by be damaged by lettuce root aphid and root rot.
By seed sown in spring.
Plants are cut in early summer and dried for use in decoctions (Chinese Medicine only). Leaves are picked in late spring, before flowering occurs, and juiced, or dried for use in infusions, liquid extracts, and tinctures. When used fresh as a vegetable, young leaves or blanched leaves are picked as required. Roots are best lifted in autumn from two-year-old plants for highest (40 percent) inulin content and less bitterness; they are pressed for juice, roasted for coffee, or dried for decoctions, infusions, liquid extracts, and tinctures. Harvesting of roots can also be carried out in spring when inulin content is closer to 2 percent. Stocks of preserved leaves and roots are replaced annually. Flowers for wine-making are picked in spring and all green parts are removed.
30cm (12in)
45cm (18in)
Improved Full Heart
Amélioré à Coeur Plein

Forms a dense clump of foliage; blanches easily.
Thick Leaved
Broad Leaved, Cabbage Leaved

Has large, deeply lobed leaves in a semi-erect rosette; blanches well.
Width: 45-60cm (18-24in)
Despite the fact that most people still view the dandelion as bothersome weed and a blight to otherwise perfect lawns, the herb holds a cherished spot in herbal medicine. It has a long history as one of the plant kingdom's best diuretics and blood tonics, and for centuries it has been used to treat high blood pressure and gallbladder, kidney, and liver problems. Many scholars claim that dandelion's healing properties were discovered by Middle Eastern medical practitioners in the tenth or eleventh century, when the herb first appears in an official Arabic formulary of plant medicines. But Chinese herbal practitioners wrote about dandelion's medicinal value in the seventh century, and the Roman scholar Pliny appears to have known and written about the plant in the first century. There is similar confusion about the origins of the dandelion's genus name, Taraxacum. Some say it is derived from the Greek taraxo, for "I have caused", and achos, for "pain"—an odd name indeed for a healing herb. Others claim the genus name is derived from the Persian tark hashgun for "wild endive". Most botanists believe the plant's official name is from the Greek taraxos, for "disorder", and akos, for "remedy". There's no debate, however, about the origins of dandelion's common name. It is derived from the Latin dens leonis, for "Lion's Tooth, which the French transformed to dent de lion. Both names are references to the unusual, toothlike leaves of the plant. The French are also responsible for dandelion's earthiest (and most apt) popular name—pissenlit, for "wet the bed", and homage to the herb's excellent diuretic properties.
Parts Used:
Whole plant (pu gong ying), leaves, roots, flowers.
A bitter-sweet, cooling herb that has diuretic, laxative, and anti-rheumatic effects, stimulates liver function, and improves digestion, and reduces swelling and inflammation.
Vitamin Content:
Vitamin A
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for gall bladder and urinary disorders, gallstones, jaundice, cirrhosis, dyspepsia with constipation, edema associated with high blood pressure and heart weakness, chronic joint and skin complaints, gout, eczema, psoriasis, and acne. Internally in Chinese medicine for breast and lung tumors, mastitis, and abscesses, jaundice, hepatitis, and urinary tract infections; externally for snakebite. Combines well with Berberis vulgaris (See, Barberry), Chelone glabra (See, Turtlehead), and Veronicastrum virginicum (See, Culver's Root) for gall bladder complaints.
To treat hemorrhoids, gout, liver and gall bladder problems, rheumatic ailments, eczema, heartburn, bloating, constipation, and elevated blood pressure. Germany's Commission E has approved the use of dandelion to treat loss of appetite, dyspeptic problems such as heartburn, liver and gallbladder complaints, and urinary tract infections.
Dandelion has anti-inflammatory, diuretic, stimulating, stomach strengthening, and tonic properties. It also increases the flow of bile to the liver, and thus supports that organ in removing toxins from the body. Additionally, dandelion is a nutritious food—the flowers and leaves may be added to salads—rich in iron, potassium, the antioxidant vitamins A (more vitamin A, in fact than in carrots) and C, and the B and D vitamins. Dandelion's high potassium content complements its strong diuretic properties; other diuretics leech the essential nutrient potassium from the body. Dandelion's diuretic action helps reduce high blood pressure and remove excess fluids, uric acid, and toxins from the body. As a tonic, it detoxifies and nourishes the blood and supports the kidneys and liver. It also stimulates the digestive system to break up and eliminate fats. Dandelion is taken internally for gallbladder infections, high blood pressure, liver inflammation, joint pain, menstrual pain, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and rheumatism. The milky sap extracted from the stems is used externally to remove warts.
Dandelion is available as fresh and dried herb, capsules, teas, and tincture. (If you collect your own dandelion, make sure the plants have not been sprayed with pesticides.) To make a tea, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of dried herb or 2 teaspoons of fresh herb and steep for 10 minutes. Drink at room temperature, up to 3 cups a day.
Typical Dose:
A typical dose of dandelion may range from 4 to 10 gm of the whole herb, taken three times a day.
No serious side effects are associated with using dandelion. Overuse of the herb may cause allergic dermatitis, diarrhea, flulike symptoms, liver pain, and/or stomach upset. Consult your medical practitioner if you plant to use dandelion on a long-term basis. If you are pregnant, have a heart condition, or have a stomach disorder, talk to your practioner before using dandelion.
Possible Side Effects:
Dandelion's sides effects include nausea, loss of appetite, and inflammation of the gallbladder. The herb may trigger allergic reactions in those who are sensitive to herbs from the Asteraceae (daisy) family, such as German Chamomile or Daisy.
Drug Interactions:
Ciprofloxacin, Loop Diuretics, Spironolactone, Thiazide Diuretics, Triamterene.
Taking dandelion with these drugs may interfere with the action of the drug:
Aluminum Hydroxide, (AlternaGel, AluCap)
Aluminum Hydroxide and Magnesium Carbonate, (Gaviscon Extra Strength, Gaviscon Liquid)
Aluminum Hydroxide and Magnesium Hydroxide, (Maalox, Rulox)
Aluminum Hydroxide and Magnesium Trisilicate, (Gaviscon Tablet)
Aluminum Hydroxide, Magnesium Hydroxide, and Simethicone, (Maalox, Mylanta Liquid)
Benazepril, (Lotensin)
Calcium Carbonate, (Rolaids Extra Strength, Tums)
Calcium Carbonate and Magnesium Hydroxide, (Mylanta Gelcaps, Rolaids Extra Strength)
Cimetidine, (Nu-Cimet, Tagamet)
Esomeprazole, (Nexium)
Famotidine, (Apo-Famotidine, Pepcid)
Famotidine, Calcium Carbonate, and Magnesium Hydroxide, (Pepcid Complete)
Lansoprazole, (Prevacid)
Magaldrate and Simethicone, (Riopan Plus, Riopan Plus Double Strength)
Magnesium Hydroxide, (Dulcolax Milk of Magnesia, Phillips' Milk of Magnesia)
Magnesium Oxide, (Mag-Ox 400, Uro-Mag)
Magnesium Sulfate, (Epsom Salts)
Nizatidine, (Axid, PMS-Nizatidine)
Omeprazole, (Losec, Prilosec)
Pantoprazole, (Pantoloc, Protonix)
Rabeprazole, (Aciphex, Pariet)
Ranitidine, (Alti-Ranitidine, Zantac)
Sodium Bicarbonate, (Brioschi, Neut)
Taking dandelion with these drugs may increase the risk of hyperkalemia (high blood levels of potassium):
Amiloride, (Midamor)
Hydrochlorothiazide and Triamterene, (Dyazide, Maxzide)
Spironolactone, (Aldactone, Novo-Spiroton)
Triamterene, (Dyrenium)
Taking dandelion with these drugs may increase the drug's diuretic effects:
Acetazolamide, (Apo-Acetazolamide, Diamox)
Amiloride, (Midamor)
Azosemide, (Diat)
Bumetanide, (Bumex, Burinex)
Chlorothiazide, (Diuril)
Chlorthalidone, (Apo-Chlorthalidone, Thalitone)
Ethacrynic Acid, (Edecrin)
Etozolin, (Elkapin)
Furosemide, (Apo-Furosemide, Lasix)
Hydrochlorothiazide, (Apo-Hydro, Microzide)
Hydrochlorothiazide and Triamterene, (Dyazide, Maxzide)
Hydroflumethiazide, (Diucardin, Saluron)
Indapamide, (Lozol, Nu-Indapamide)
Mannitol, (Osmitrol, Resectisol)
Mefruside, (Baycaron)
Methazolamide, (Apo-Methazolamide, Neptazane)
Methyclothiazide, (Aquatense, Enduron)
Metolazone, (Mykrox, Zaroxolyn)
Olmesartan and Hydrochlorothiazide, (Benicar HCT)
Polythiazide, (Renese)
Spironolactone, (Aldactone, Novo-Spiroton)
Torsemide, (Demadex)
Triamterene, (Dyrenium)
Trichlormethiazide, (Metatensin, Naqua)
Urea, (Amino-Cerv, UltraMide)
Xipamide, (Diurexan, Lumitens)
Taking dandelion with these drugs may increase the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar):
Acarbose, (Prandase, Precose)
Acetohexamide, (Acetohexamide)
Chlorpropamide, (Diabinese, Novo-Propamide)
Gliclazide, (Diamicron, Novo-Gliclazide)
Glimepiride, (Amaryl)
Glipizide, (Glucotrol)
Glipizide and Metformin, (Metaglip)
Gliquidone, (Beglynor, Glurenorm)
Glyburide, (DiaBeta, Micronase)
Glyburide and Metformin, (Glucovance)
Insulin, (Humulin, Novolin R)
Metformin, (Glucophage, Riomet)
Miglitol, (Glyset)
Nateglinide, (Starlix)
Pioglitazone, (Actos)
Repaglinide, (GlucoNorm, Prandin)
Rosiglitazone, (Avandia)
Rosiglitazone and Metformin, (Avandamet)
Tolazamide, (Tolinase)
Tolbutamide, (Apo-Tolbutamide, Tol-Tab)
Taking dandelion with this drug may be harmful because:
Lithium, (Eskalith, Carbolith)— may increase the effects of the drug and cause lithium toxicity.
Disease Effects:
  • May lower blood sugar in diabetes.
  • May worsen cases of gallstones, gallbladder inflammation, or intestinal or bile duct blockages.
Supplement Interactions:
  • May enhance the effects of herbs and supplements that have diuretic properties, such as Agrimony, Celery, Shepherd's Purse, and Yarrow.
  • May increase blood glucose-lowering effects and risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) when used with herbs and supplements that lower glucose levels, such as alpha-lipoic acid, chromium, Devil's Claw, Panax Ginseng, and Psyllium.
Culinary Uses:
Fresh leaves, usually blanched, are eaten in salads or cooked as a vegetable. Flowers are made into wine and jelly. Roots are roasted and ground as a caffiene-free substitute for coffee.
Economic Uses:
Leaves and roots are used to flavor herbal cordials, beers and soft drinks, such as dandelion and burdock.
The Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Bown Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited. pp. 382-383
The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide by Geo. T. Grossberg,MD and Barry Fox,PhD Copyright©2007 Barry Fox,PhD. Pp.179-181
The Modern Herbal Primer by Nancy Burke Copyright©2000 Yankee Publishing, Inc. pp. 52-54