A modest representative of the enormous Asteraceae family (formerly composeae, more than 20,000 species), the dandelion is a plant from the old world (Eurasia) with a temperate climate.
The officinal dandelion or common dandelion is Taraxacum officinale = Taraxacum dens-leonis, however the systematics of dandelions is complex, the species and subspecies numerous and their pharmacological properties very similar.
Another specie Taraxacum erythrospermum (slender and with reddish seeds) is also widespread especially in North America and Northern Europe.
There are many species of "dandelion" in Asia also used for their food, dietetic or medicinal properties.
The common dandelion or taraxacum officinale, is a perennial plant very common in fields, meadows, roadsides.
Taraxacum officinale also adapts to more severe or sub-tropical climates (at medium altitude) where it is much rarer.
Its appearance is typical, the basal leaves arranged in a rosette are more or less cut into unequal lobes, the flower is yellow (it blooms at the very beginning of spring) and, at maturity, the seeds (achenes) escape, carried by the wind thanks to their very characteristic fine egrets (clocks or blowballs).
The taproot is strong and long; when cut plant excretes a whitish latex.
BE CAREFUL, the dandelion is easy to identify but its flowers and fruits resemble other asteraceae (asteraceae), some are not edible or even poisonous.
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION AND PROPERTIES
DANDELION LEAF AND ROOT
In all parts of the plant we find:
- particularly BITTER sesquiterpene lactones (germacranolides and eudesmanolides),
- pentacyclic acids (taraxosterol and their derivatives) and more common phenolic acids (caffeic, ferulic, etc.),
- anti-inflammatory flavonoids.
The root is rich in inulin (40% in autumn) and in fructose (especially in spring).
The green leaves are rich in phytosterols and manganese, contain vitamin C and beta carotene (provitamin A)
There are no toxic alkaloids or saponosides in significant amounts.
Dandelion flower contains phenolic acids and anti-inflammatory, anti-free radical flavonoids.
The yellow pigment of flowers is a vegetable dye.
PROPERTIES OF DANDELION
Tradition and ancient experiences lead to consider the dandelion as a cholagogue by its root and a choleretic by its leaves, therefore a plant which increases the secretory activity (bile) of the liver.
The whole plant combines these two properties, it increases gallbladder contractibility while increasing the amount of bile discharged into the intestine.
Inulin, a carbon storage substance fixed by photosynthesis (like starch) is not digestible, it passes through the human digestive tract without being degraded by enzymes or absorbed but it serves as a substrate to bacteria and yeasts present in the large intestine (probiotic effect).
Intravenously, it is also very stable and is eliminated via the kidneys without modification.
Recent studies show:
- that the aqueous and ethanolic extracts of dandelion (root and leaves), make it possible to limit the absorption of carbohydrates in the intestine and seem to increase the tissue penetration of blood glucose, two effects which can attenuate type 2 diabetes.
- There is also a fairly clear diuretic effect.
- Dandelion extracts are anti-inflammatory, and reduce the level of blood lipids (hypocholesterolemic action)
DANDELION AS A MEDICINAL PLANT
Its use in Europe is relatively recent (16th century); its choleretic and cholagogue properties make it used in all chronic liver diseases and in certain jaundices: hepatic insufficiency, cholelithiasis, cholangitis, infectious hepatitis, but also to relieve constipation and digestive migraines.
It is considered to be an anti-arteriosclerotic, slightly anti-diabetic.
Many phytomedicines contain dandelion extract ou dandelion powder but they can also be prepared by harvesting and processing dandelion by yourself.
- 1 to 3 dandelion (with root) in a liter of water; boil 5 minutes and infuse 10 minutes, drink one to two cups, it's very bitter!,
- 30 to 60 g of root split and cut into small pieces in a liter of water; boil then infuse as above; drinking two cups at noon and at night is still very bitter.
ALCOHOLIC TINCTURE (dry plant) or HOMEOPATIC TINCTURE (fresh plant):
- 50 to 150 drops per day, often in combination with other plants active on the liver and the excretion of bile, ROSMARINUS (rosemary) and CYNARA (artichoke leaves).
Some classical herbalists (Leclerc) widely advocated the use of dandelion not only in obvious hepatic disorders, but also in other disorders which seemed associated to them (eg dermatoses) and considered it an EXCELLENT DEPURATIVE.
There are many herbal medicines in pharmacies and natural products stores that contain dandelion extracts.
THE EDIBLE AND DIET DANDELION
We can recommend the spring YOUNG LEAVES in salad, less bitter and full of magnesium, vitamins A and C.
Then, the leaves become more and more bitter over the months but their medicinal power is reinforced.
If the dandelion grows away from light (under straw or soil), the leaves are not very colorful (like endive) and sweeter to the taste.
The fragmented, dried, and lightly ROASTED Dandelion ROOT can be used in herbal tea (sometimes mixed with coffee) in the manner of chicory root.
It is a hygienic drink, without caffeine, which can improve chronic constipation, digestive migraine and is mildly diuretic.
Fresh or dried FLOWER TEA is refreshing, slightly yellow colored, it contains anti-inflammatory and diuretic substances but no caffeine or compounds preventing sleep.
Dandelion is a common "wild" plant, but for convenience it can be grown in your garden.
There are, moreover, among seed growers crop varieties selected for their leaves or roots.
The propagation is done by sowing in place or by fragmenting a root.
Dandelion is a very hardy and undemanding plant that adapts to a lot of soils but prefers deep, loose soils in which its root grows well.
The dandelion is appreciated by bees for the precocity of its flowering and of course by rabbits who love it!
DANDELION, a remedy for hepatic and biliary insufficiency
Dandelions are common all over the world ; the young leaves are edible and contain vitamin A and C as well as magnesium.
The root and the aged leaves are very bitter.
They contain compounds that increase the secretion of bile by the liver and strengthen the contractions of the gallbladder.
Dandelion extracts are used as a depurative, to improve digestion when there is liver failure, to relieve constipation and to prevent the development of arteriosclerosis.
Copyright 2021 : Dr Jean-Michel Hurtel