A 'Lion' Of A Herb

With green leaves resembling lion’s teeth and yellow flowers luminous and mane-like, the Common Dandelion is unmistakable in appearance.

A ‘lion’ of a herb, its name originates from the French term dent-de-lion, meaning ‘tooth of a lion’. Native to Central Asia, the Common Dandelion is used in alternative medicine, and benefits the health and function of internal organs – most importantly, the liver.


Flowering Dandelion plant growing in the wildCredit: User:hotblack / morgueFile

Herbal Medicine

The Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is of beneficial use for the home healer and professional herbalist. Every component of the Dandelion plant – its leaves, flowers and root – have positive virtues that aid physical well-being and promote natural healing.

Whether applied externally to prevent the recurrence of skin warts, or consumed internally to improve dietary nutrition, Dandelion is more than just a wild weed needing death by herbicide. 

Dandelion contains various constituents that are invaluable in herbal medicine. With active ingredients including glycosides, triterpenoids, choline and tannins, Dandelion also offers Vitamin C, Vitamin B, and essential minerals, such as iron and potassium.

Dried or fresh, Dandelion is helpful in treating:

•  liver congestion

•  hepatitis

•  gallstones

•  gall-bladder complaints

•  jaundice

•  constipation

•  poor circulation

•  water retention

•  rheumatism

•  potassium deficiency

•  arthritis, and

•  diabetes.


Herbal Actions

A bitter-tasting herb, Dandelion has the ability to stimulate the digestive system into action. Not only improving personal appetite, Dandelion's mild laxative qualities make it suitable for use when there is sluggish digestion.

Aside from the digestive process, Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is one of the best herbs  to tone and strengthen the liver. As a hepatic, Dandelion root is used "to aid the liver and its function as this most important organ is intimately involved in all bodily functions and the health of all tissues." (Hoffmann, p. 52)

In its role as a diuretic, Dandelion increases the body's natural elimination of urine. Well-recognized for its effectiveness in general use, Dandelion is a healthier option to taking synthetic diuretics. Dandelion "contains a high percentage of potassium, an element that is often washed out of the body by the use of such synthetic diuretics." (Hoffmann, p. 109)


Picture of Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) flowerCredit: Greg Hume / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0 license

Herbal Dosage

Whether chopped and added to a fresh garden salad, dried and infused in a tea cup, or made into wine, Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is simply one of the most versatile herbs you can find. As a hot drink, "the roots can be roasted and ground into a tasty, caffeine-free substitute for coffee." (McIntyre, p. 217)

For the purpose of detoxifying the body, it is worthwhile taking Dandelion in the form of a decoction, or infusion. In comparison to other herbs, "Dandelion is the simplest and most widely applicable one. The root or leaves of Dandelion are excellent hepatics that also work on the kidney and so help the cleansing of the body through that organ." (Hoffmann, p. 62)  

Quantity of the herb varies in relation to which plant part is used, ie the root or leaf. From The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism, standard dosage of Dandelion leaf for an adult consists of "4-10 grams of dried leaf equivalent three times per day", whereas dosage of Dandelion root is "2-8 grams of dried root equivalent three times per day." (Mills, p. 75)

When making Dandelion tea (or infusion), Dandelion may be used in combination with other herbs. Compatible types that can be used in conjunction with Dandelion include Barberry, Black Root, Celery Seeds, Balmony, Yarrow or Couchgrass. Tinctures or herbal extracts derived from Dandelion may also be prepared and administered.

As with any form of medicine – herbal or pharmaceutical – frequency and dosage of Dandelion depends on the severity, and type of health problem. In cases of chronic liver, kidney or gall-bladder ailments, a naturopath or other health professional is best advised.


Picture of a Common Dandelion seed head(124724)Credit: Greg Hume / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0 license

Homeopathy

In homeopathic medicineTaraxacum officinale (or Tarax.) is most suited to issues related to the liver. Easing pain and discomfort, Tarax. reduces the effect of gastric headaches, and is helpful when appetite needs to be increased. A remedy for treating urinary disorders, dosage of Tarax. is typically given by tincture to third potency. (Boericke, 2009)

A person with Tarax. characteristics has the appearance of jaundiced skin and noticeable loss of appetite. With raw, red spots on the tongue, they are seldom without headaches and constipation, and feel cold after eating. Symptoms tend to worsen when lying down, resting, or sitting, as well as after drinking. Their arms and legs are painful to the touch, and night sweats are a regular occurrence.


Flower Therapy

Dandelion is a Californian Flower Essence specifically for those who love life, perhaps a little too much. With daily actions firmly set on 'high gear', Dandelion types experience little rest and peace in their lives. Over-enthusiastically filling hours and days with endless activity, Dandelion serves to release "tension, allowing the body to relax and emotions to be released and expressed." (McIntyre, p. 218)

A restful flower remedy, Dandelion brings relief and freedom from the hectic structure we 'think' we need to live, day in and day out. Released from doing-ness, it is possible to emerge into just 'being' and realize that life does not have to come by force, strain or demand.

In its essence, Dandelion enables us to listen to our own inner needs. It helps us to understand that spiritual and emotional fulfillment can be equally, if not more, satisfying than the external pressures we hold ourselves to. At last, "energy, activity and enthusiasm become balanced with a sense of inner ease." (McIntyre, p. 218)


Close up photo of a yellow Dandelion flowerCredit: User:anitapeppers / morgueFile

Summary

Dandelion is a bright-flowered herb that works on the inside to make life much happier and healthier on the outside. In all shapes and forms, from homemade teas to commercial supplements, Dandelion gives us a strong antidote to liver problems and physical burdens.

As Nature created it, Dandelion is a 'lion' among herbs in a world where only the fittest and strongest survive. It is a herb that is here for our health, our wholeness, our survival.


Note:

  • These facts about Dandelion are for information purposes only. 
  • Major health complaints must be properly diagnosed and monitored by your doctor and/or natural health professional. 
  • If prescribed pharmaceutical drugs, check first with your health professional prior to taking Dandelion or other herbal supplement. Adverse reactions between herbs and medication are very rare but can occur.

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