Taraxacum officinale; Compositae

Synonyms - Asteraceae (family), Blowball, cankerwort, clock flower, common dandelion, Cichoroideae (sub-family), Compositae (family), dandelion herb, dent de lion, diente de lion, dudhal, dumble-dor, fairy clock, fortune teller, hokouei-kon, huang hua di ding (yellow flower earth nail), irish daisy, Leontodon taraxacum , lion's teeth, lion's tooth, Lowenzahn, Lowenzahnwurzel, maelkebotte, milk gowan, min-deul-rre, mok's head, mongoloid dandelion, pee in the bed, pissenlit, piss-in-bed, pries' crown, priest'scrown, puffball, pu gong ying, pu kung ying, Radix taraxaci , swine snout, taraxaci herba, taraxacum, Taraxacum mongolicum , Taraxacum palustre , Taraxacum vulgare , telltime, white endive, wild endive, witch gowan, witches' milk, yellow flower earth nail.

Part of the Plant used - Leaves and root

Description - Dandelion is a member of the Asteraceae/Compositae family closely related to chicory. It is a perennial herb, native throughout the Northern hemisphere, found growing wild in meadows, pastures and waste grounds of temperate zones. Most commercial dandelion is cultivated in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and the United Kingdom.

Dandelion was commonly used in Native American medicine. The Iroquois, Ojibwe and Rappahannock prepared infusions and decoctions of the root and herb to treat kidney disease, dyspepsia, and heartburn. In traditional Arabian medicine, dandelion has been used to treat liver and spleen ailments. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), dandelion is combined with other herbs to treat hepatitis, to enhance immune response to upper respiratory tract infections, bronchitis or pneumonia, and as a topical compress for mastitis (breast inflammation).

Medicinal use - It is one of the best herbs for the liver, cleansing the blood and strengthening this organ, even curing hepatitis, jaundice and cirrhosis. I have seen dandelion effectively heal hepatitis when six cups of tea from the raw root are taken each day for a week or two. It stimulates the secretion of bile, thus aiding digestion, acting as a laxative and breaking up gall and kidney stones. Its blood cleansing properties treats skin rashes, measles, chicken pox, eczema, poison oak and ivy and other skin eruptions. The Chinese use it for infections, inflammations, boils, abscesses, swellings, carious teeth, red swollen and painful eyes, fever and other heat-related conditions. Externally, its juice is applied to snake bites.

Dandelionís action on the digestive system is also notable. It stimulates and strengthens the digestive process and is valuable for diabetics and hypoglycemics. It is useful for detoxification from overeating meat and fatty and fried foods. Its diuretic effect cleanses the kidneys and lowers blood pressure. For the breasts, dandelionís effects reduce sores, tumors, swollen lymph and cysts and are possibly preventative of breast cancer. It also stimulates the production of motherís milk. Dandelion leaf tea, take cool, is one of the most effective diuretics.

The leaves are very high in iron, vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin A and potassium, and are useful for treating anemia. Eaten when young in the spring, they help clear out any excesses from winter, aiding in the prevention of spring colds. The root can be roasted and made into a strong tea which Europeans call "dandelion coffee." It actually is an excellent coffee substitute, since its full-bodied, bitter flavor is satisfying and counteracts the effects of previous caffeine by cleansing the injured liver. It combines well with chicory and burdock roots for a closer coffee flavor. In general, the roasted roots can be used by those with coldness and the raw roots by those with heat.

Pharmacology - An acrid bitter resin (taraxacerin), inulin (25 percent), phytosterols, saponins, glutin, gum potash, vitamins A and C (the vitamin A content is higher than in carrots).

Contra-indications - Dandelion should be avoided by individuals with known allergy to dandelion, honey, chamomile, chrysanthemums, yarrow, feverfew or any members of the Asteraceae / Compositae plant families (ragweed, sunflower, daisies).

The most common type of allergy is dermatitis (skin inflammation) after direct skin contact with dandelion, which may include itching, rash, red/swollen or eczematous areas on the skin. Skin reactions are also reported in dogs. The main chemicals in dandelion responsible for allergic reactions are believed to be sesquiterpene lactones. Patch tests have been developed to assess for dandelion allergy. Rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma have been reported after handling products such as birdfeed containing dandelion and other herbs, with reported positive skin tests for dandelion hypersensitivity.

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