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Dandelion root and leaves are believed to be quite safe, with no side effects or likely risks other than rare allergic reactions. 1 2 3 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 . 4 Some references state that dandelion root can cause hyperacidity and thereby increase ulcer pain, but this concern has been disputed. 5 Because the leaves contain so much potassium , they probably resupply any potassium lost due to dandelion's mild diuretic effect, although this has not been proven.
There are no known drug interactions with dandelion. However, based on what we know about dandelion root's effects, there might be some risk when combining it with pharmaceutical diuretics or drugs that reduce blood sugar levels. In addition, individuals taking the medication lithium should use herbal diuretics such as dandelion leaf only under the supervision of a physician, as being dehydrated can be dangerous when using this medication. 6 Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking:
- Diuretic drugs, lithium , insulin , or oral medications that reduce blood sugar levels : Use dandelion only under doctor's supervision.
- Newall C, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London, England: Pharmaceutical Press; 1996.
- European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy. Taraxaci radix (dandelion). Monographs on the Medicinal Uses of Plant Drugs, Fascicule 2. Exeter, UK: ESCOP; 1996-1997:2
- Review of Natural Products. St. Louis, MO: Facts and Comparisons; 1998.
- Blumenthal M, ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs, Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 1998:119-120.
- McGuffin M, ed. American Herbal Products Association'sBotanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1997:114.
- Pyevich D, Bogenschutz MP. Herbal diuretics and lithium toxicity [letter]. Am J Psychiatry. 2001;158:1329.