Materia Medica: Dandelion

 

SUMMARY

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Dandelion is not a weed; it is a dynamic, Spring tonic herb, liver tonic, and blood purifier.  It is a very powerful diuretic and one of the best natural sources of potassium.  It makes an ideally balance diuretic even in cases of water retention due to heart problems and for other urinary disorders.  The leaves are also effective lever and digestive tonic.  As a cholagogue it may be used in inflammation and congestion of the liver and gall-bladder.  It is specific in cases of congestive jaundice.  As part of a wider treatment for muscular rheumatism it can be most effective.  Its root is often roasted as a coffee substitute.  It can be used to make wine and schnapps and added to salads and soups.  It contains more Vitamin A then carrots.  Dandelion’s combination of being a liver tonic and rich in phytohormones makes it a wonderful herbal tonic for menopausal symptoms like hot flashes.  Dandelion greens are enjoyed in springtime and throughout the growing season from April to November, although they are most tender and sweet during the first year of growth and before blossoming, and get progressively more bitter throughout the season.  The common name derives from the French 'dent de lion', meaning 'lion's tooth', which refers to the deeply toothed, deep green leaves

“It is cold, but drieth more and doth withall clense and open by reason of the bitterness which it hath joined with it…” – John Gerard, 1597

MATERIA MEDICA

Latin Binomial: Taraxacum officinale fol.

Common Name(s): Dandelion, Lion's Tooth, Priest's Crown, Wild Endive, Lowball, Cankerwort, Irish Daisy, Monk's head, Swine Snout, Witch Gowan, Yellow Gowan

TCM Name: Pu gong ying

Ayurvedic Name: Simhadanti

Family: Asteraceae

Physical Description of the Plant:   Perennial with basal leaves that are spatulate to lanceolate, and deeply toothed. The stalks are hollow and leak a milky latex when broken. Each stalk holds one flower. What look like tiny petals on the yellow flower head are actually individual flowers themselves called florets. Roots are thick and unbranched.  

Habitat:  Found in a very wide variety of habitats, but tend to thrive best in disturbed sites such as lawns, paths, waste ground, pastures and road verges. Some microspecies are found in natural or semi-natural habitats, including fens, sand dunes and chalk grassland

Harvest and Collection: The roots are best collected between early summer and late summer when they are at their bitterest.  Split longitudinally before drying.  The leaves may be collected any time.  Dandelion is produced commercially in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, the former Yugoslavia, and the United Kingdom. However, dandelion grows practically everywhere, and is wild collected in a variety of climates, even in the Himalayas up to about 12,000 feet, where it is often gathered for use in Ayurvedic medicine (the traditional healing system of India). Dandelion will grow anywhere, but will produce more substantial roots in moist, rich, deep soil. Pharmacopeial grade dandelion leaf is composed of the dried leaves collected before flowering and the root collected in autumn or whenever its inulin content is the highest.

Parts of the Plant Used:  Entire Plant

Qualities: 

Chemical Constituents:

  • Glycosides
  • Triterpenoids
  • Choline
  • Potassium
  • Carotenoids
  • Iron
  • Vitamins A, B, C, D
  • Tannins
  • Sterols
  • Asparagin
  • Inulin
  • Volatile Oil
  • Flavanoids
  • Boron
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus
  • Coumarins
  • Phenolic acids
  • Taraxocoside

Taste:  Bitter, slight sweet, slightly salty.

Actions:

  • Alterative
  • Anti-Bilious
  • Anti-rheumatic
  • Anti-inflammatory (root)
  • Anti-lithic
  • Aperient
  • Bitter
  • Cholagogue
  • Diuretic/Aquaretic
  • Hepatic
  • Laxative
  • Tonic
  • Promotes bile flow
  • Mild laxative (root)

Indications:

  • Arthritis/Rheumatism
  • Constipation
  • Digestive complaints
  • Fluid retention from premenstrual syndrome, heart failure, or high blood pressure
  • Gallbladder problems
  • Gout - encourages excretion of uric acid
  • Liver disorders
  • To aid weight reduction
  • Whites juice from stems can help remove corns, calluses, and warts
  • Stimulates bile production

Contraindications/Cautions:

  • Call your health care practitioner if you experience skin irritation when using dandelion.  Dandelion can cause: blockage for the digestive or biliary tract, gallbladder inflammation, gallstones.
  • Don't use while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Drug Interactions:

  • Don't use dandelion while taking: diuretics, drugs that lower blood pressure, drugs that lower blood sugar.

Dosage:

Leaf:

  • Liquid Extract
    • 6-11.5 ml of 1:1 LE / day
    • 40-80mls of 1:1 LE / week
  • Dried Herb Equivalent (by infusion): 12-30 grams per day

Root:

  • Root tincture: 2-5 mL 3x/day (1:5 in 60%).
  • Root decoction: 2-3 teaspoons simmered in water for 10-15 minutes 3x/day Leaf tincture: 5-10 mL 3x/day (1:5 in 50%).

Infusion: 1-2 teaspoons dried leaf infused in 1 cup hot water for 15 minutes, 3x/day.

Combinations:  For liver and gall bladder problems it may be use with couch grass or yarrow.

Energetics: Bitter, drying, and cooling.

Folklore:

The use of dandelion was first recorded in writing in the Tang Materia Medica (659 B.C.E.), and then later noted by Arab physicians in the 10th century.  In the United States, various indigenous cultures considered dandelion to be a prized edible, a gastrointestinal aid, a cleansing alterative, and a helpful poultice or compress. The Bella Coola from Canada made a decoction of the roots to assuage gastrointestinal challenges; the Algonquian ate the leaves for their alterative properties and also used them externally as a poultice. Additionally, the Aleut steamed leaves and applied them topically to sore throats. The Cherokee believed the root to be an alterative as well and made a tea of the plant (leaves and flowers) for calming purposes. It is interesting to note that dandelion was used by the Iroquois as well. They made a tea of the whole plant, and also considered it be an alterative tonic. In the southwestern U.S., in Spanish speaking communities practicing herbalism, dandelion is called 'chicoria' or 'diente de leon.'

Flower Essence:  

 I AM essence of the sun aligning the liver and gallbladder systems with clear and healthy functioning.  

Use Dandelion Flower Essence when you have problems with your liver or gallbladder, or experience old anger and rage that are turned outward towards others or inward towards yourself. Use Dandelion Essence when you have difficulty planning and organizing your life and putting into action what you have planned. Dandelion Flower Essence helps to clear the energetic patterns of addictive behaviors such as alcoholism and chemical sensitivities that have become imbedded in the liver and gallbladder. It supports the release of emotional and physical imbalances that feed hormonal imbalances such as menopausal hot flashes.

Applications:

Leaves:

  • FRESH:  Add to spring salads as a cleansing remedy.
  • INFUSION: A less effective diuretic than the juice, the infusion makes a cleansing remedy for toxic conditions including gout and exzema.  Also, use as a gentle liver and digestive stimulant.  Make with freshly dried leaves.
  • JUICE:  Purée the leaves when a diuretic action is needed.  Take up to 20 ml juice, three times a day.

ROOT: 

  • TINCTURE: Often added to remedies for a failing heart to ensure adequate potassium intake.
  • DECOCTION: Use for the same conditions as the tincture.

Recipes

Power up soups by adding dandelion greens  Pair fruit in salads to balance the bitter taste.

Dandelion PestO

From the Herbal Academy.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh young dandelion greens
  • 1 cup basil
  • 1 cup cashews, almonds, or pine nuts
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Wash and dry dandelion greens and basil. 
  2. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. 
  3. Serve as a dip with vegetable crudites or crackers, on pasta, or as a sandwich spread.

Dandelion Wine

From The Spruce.

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts dandelion flowers
  • 1 gallon (3.78 liters) filtered water
  • 3 lemons, juice and zest
  • 3 oranges, juice and zest
  • 1 1/2 pounds (680 grams) sugar
  • 3/4 pound (340 grams) golden raisins (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon yeast nutrient, or 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • Optional: simple syrup

Directions

  1. Snip off most of the calyxes (green parts) from the base of the flowers and all of the stems. It’s okay if a little of the green goes in, but too much will result in a bitter wine. Compost or discard the calyxes and stems. Put the trimmed petals in a non-reactive vessel (no aluminum, copper, or iron).
  2. Bring the water to a boil and pour it over the flower petals. Let the mixture sit for 2 hours. Place a colander lined with cheesecloth or butter muslin over a large, non-reactive pot and strain the dandelions, pressing gently on the flowers to extract as much of the liquid as possible. Compost or discard the dandelion petals.
  1. Place the pot over high heat and bring the strained dandelion infusion to a boil. Stir in the citrus juices and sugar, mixing to dissolve the sugar. Add the lemon and orange zest and the chopped raisins. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  2. When the mixture has cooled to room temperature, stir in the yeast nutrient or cornmeal. Cover and leave at room temperature for 10 to 14 days, stirring 3 times each day.
  3. Strain into a sanitized one-gallon jug and seal with either a fermentation lock (available from online homebrewing and winemaking supplies) or a balloon with a single pinprick in it. The pinprick allows gasses to escape during active fermentation, but the balloon still keeps detrimental bacteria out.
  4. After 3 weeks, siphon or carefully pour the liquid into another sanitized jug, leaving behind any yeasty sediment. If there are more than 2 inches between the top of the wine and the rim of the bottle, top off with a simple syrup of equal parts sugar and water.
  5. When the wine is clear rather than cloudy, wait 30 more days and then siphon or carefully pour it into another jug, leaving behind any yeasty sediment on the bottom. Refit with an airlock or pricked balloon. Repeat this procedure every 3 months for 9 months until almost no sediment is forming on the bottom of the jug anymore.
  6. Funnel into sanitized bottles. Cork the bottles (you might want to get a hand-corker from a winemaking supply company. They are cheap and do a much better job of securely corking the bottles).
  7. Age for another year before drinking. Dandelion wine is worth the wait!

Scientific Research

References: 

Bone, K. (2003). A Clinical Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs: Herbal Formulations for the Individual Patient. St Louis, Missouri: Elsevier

Hoffman, D. (1996).  The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal.  Element Books LTD.

Fetrow, Charles & Juan Avila (2000).  The Complete Guide to Herbal Medicines.  New York, NY: Pocket Books.

Ody, Penelope (1993).  The Complete Medicinal Herbal.  New York, New York: Dorling Kindersley.

Gladstar, Rosemary (2012).  Medicinal Herbs. A beginner's guide. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

Groves, Maria Noel (2016).  Body into Balance.  North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

Thayer, Samuel (2006). Forager’s Harvest. Birchwood, WI: Forager’s Harvest.

Foster, Steven (1993). Herbal Renaissance. Layton, UT: Peregrine Smith Books.

McIntyre, Anne (2010).  The Complete Herbal Tutor.  London, England: Hatchet Company.

Time. 100 Most Healing Foods. 

https://materiamedicaresource.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/dandelion-leaf/

https://www.treefrogfarm.com/store/flower-essences-tree-essences/dandelion-flower-essence.html

https://theherbalacademy.com/dandelion-materia-medica/

https://www.arkive.org/common-dandelion/taraxacum-officinale-agg/

https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/dandelion-leaf/profile

https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-make-dandelion-wine-1327932