What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Dandelion?

The common dandelion, enemy of suburban lawns, is an unusually nutritious food. Its leaves contain substantial levels of vitamins A, C, D, and B complex as well as iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese, copper, choline, calcium, boron, and silicon.

Worldwide, the root of the dandelion has been used for the treatment of a variety of liver and gallbladder problems. Other historical uses of the root and leaves include the treatment of breast diseases, water retention, digestive problems, joint pain, fever, and skin diseases.

The most active constituents in dandelion appear to be eudesmanolide and germacranolide, substances unique to this herb. Other ingredients include taraxol, taraxerol, and taraxasterol, along with stigmasterol, beta-sitosterol, caffeic acid, and...

Dandelion leaves are widely recommended as a food supplement for pregnant women because of the many nutrients they contain. The scientific basis for any other potential use of dandelion is scanty.

Dandelion leaves have been found to produce a mild diuretic effect, 1 which has led to its proposed use for people who suffer from mild fluid retention , such as may occur in premenstrual syndrome (PMS). However, no double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have been reported on the effectiveness of dandelion for this purpose. (For information on double-blind studies, and why they are so important, see Why Does This Database Rely on Double-blind Studies? )

In the folk medicine of many countries, dandelion root is regarded as a "liver tonic," a substance believed to support the liver in an...

Safety Issues

Dandelion root and leaves are believed to be quite safe, with no side effects or likely risks other than rare allergic reactions. 2 3 4 Dandelion is on the FDA's GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list and approved for use as a food flavoring by the Council of Europe.

However, based on dandelion root's effect on bile secretion, Germany's Commission E has recommended that it not be used at all by individuals with obstruction of the bile ducts or other serious diseases of the gallbladder, and that it be used only under physician supervision by those with gallstones . 5 Some references state that dandelion root can cause hyperacidity and thereby increase ulcer pain, but this concern has been disputed. 6 Because the leaves contain so much potassium ,...