|Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale
Dandelions are believed to have evolved about thirty million years ago in Eurasia. [Wikipedia] Dandelion is a rich source of
vitamins and minerals. Dandelion has taraxacine-A (1), taraxacine-B (2) and taraxafolin (3) together with twenty-five known
compounds, which include two beta-carboline alkaloids, two indole alkaloids, two chlorophylls, two flavonoids, one coumarin, two
triterpenoids, one monoterpenoid, one ionone, four steroids, eight benzenoids, iron, silicon, magnesium, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin D,
vitamin C, and various B vitamins [1, 2, 7].
Taraxacum is a genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae; two species of them, T. officinale and T. erythrospermum, are
found as weeds worldwide. Dandelion refers to the members of the genus, They have very small flowers collected together into a
composite flower head. Most species of Taraxacum are seed dispersed ruderals that rapidly colonize disturbed soil, especially T.
POTENTIAL HEALTH BENEFITS
Dandelion compounds increase bile production and flow . The increased bile flow might improve cholesterol metabolism. The
leaves are used to help digestion, and as diuretic. Dandelion is promoted as a blood purifier. Dandelion root has been used to
detoxify the liver and gallbladder, while its leaves used to support kidney function.
Hypertension, Oedema, Water-retention
Dandelion,Taraxacum officinale, may benefit people at risk of hypertension and oedema or issues related to water-retention, as it
has diuretic property. A diuretic is any substance that promotes the production of urine. Dandelion has been extensively employed
as a diuretic in traditional folk medicine.
In a clinical study, a fresh leaf hydroethanolic extract of dandelion was ingested by volunteers. a significant increase in the
frequency of urination in the 5-hour period after the first dose and a significant increase in the excretion ratio in the 5-hour period
after the second dose of extract were observed. Thus, the researchers concluded that dandelion extract showed promise as a
diuretic in humans. [Clare BA, et al, J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Aug;15(8):929-34] As diuretic is a mild anti-hypertensive
agent, thus, dandelion may benefit people at risk of high blood pressure.
In fact, similar results have been demonstrated in animals as early as 1974. 
Dandelion extracts have been used in Traditional Native American and Chinese Medicines for treating leukemia and breast cancer
for years. [A3] And, here I would like to highlight a few studies on how dandelion may benefit people at risk of certain cancers.
Researchers from Kyung Hee University at Korea found that dandelion was able to decrease the viability of hepatoma cell line Hep
G2 by 26%, and dandelion was further able to increase the tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha and interleukin (IL)-1alpha
production. They were also able to shown a strongly induced apoptosis of Hep G2 cells.  Researchers from the same university
further found a chemical, taraxinic acid, from dandelion, could also against human leukemia cells.  While, dandelion root extract
was shown to specifically and effectively induce apoptosis in human melanoma cells without inducing toxicity in noncancerous cells.
[A2] It sounds exciting that dandelion may benefit people at risk of different cancers. Unfortunately, most of the work were done in
test-tube, it is unclear how it works in human body.
Cholesterol, Triglyceride and Fatty Liver
Dandelion water extract was shown to lower the hepatic malondialdehyde concentration in the diabetic-induced rats. The
dandelion water-extract supplement also lowered the total cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations in the serum and hepatic
tissue, while increasing the serum HDL-cholesterol in the diabetic rats.  Further, in a study of mice, researchers fed mice with
high fat diet. They found that Taraxacum official (dandelion) leaf extract dramatically reduced hepatic lipid accumulation. And, the
dandelion leaf extract further dramatically suppressed triglyceride, total cholesterol, insulin, fasting glucose level in serum.
[Davaatseren M et al, Food Chem. Toxicol. 2013 Apr 18; 58C: 30-36]
Similar results were found in a study of rabbits. The results show that treatment with dandelion root and leaf positively changed
plasma antioxidant enzyme activities and lipid profiles in cholesterol-fed rabbits. [Choi UK et al, Int J Mol Sci. 2010 Jan 6;11(1):67-
Based on these studies, it is believed that dandelion leaf extract may benefit people at risk of fatty liver. However, a clinical study
with human subjects is needed to verify thus health benefit claim of dandelion.
Dandelion may cause allergic contact dermatitis to some people.
Yun SI et al from University of Ulsan, Korea, purified an anti-coagulant from Taraxacum platycarpum. This anti-coagulant inhibited
thrombin and kallikrein, but did not hydrolyze fibrinogen. The protein bound the anion-binding exosite of thrombin, competing with
the fibrinogen binding site.  WARNING This can be a serious side effects for users who have coagulation issues. Consult
with your doctor before taking it.
Without much scientific supports, dandelion root is considered as a "liver tonic", i.e. a substance to support the liver, or even a
"detoxifier" to clean out the liver and gallbladder.  Based on this hypothesis, people believe that it can reduce the side effects
of certain medications on liver. And some authors claim that dandelion root can stimulate the bile flow in some studies. [14-16]
And, some suppliers suggest that it improves appetite and treat minor digestive disorders and constipation.
A recent report of twenty eight male rabbits has shown that dandelion may have health benefits on mammals at risk of high
cholesterol. In the study, the rabbits were divided into four groups: a normal diet group, a high-cholesterol diet group, a high-
cholesterol diet with 1% (w/w) dandelion leaf group, and a high-cholesterol diet with 1% (w/w) dandelion root group. Treatment with
dandelion root and leaf positively changed plasma antioxidant enzyme activities and lipid profiles in cholesterol-fed rabbits, and
thus may have potential hypolipidemic and antioxidant effects. 
There is no report about how dandelion benefits people with any hair conditions. (as of June, 2013)
Side Effects, Precaution and Possible Interaction
Probably, dandelion is safe; it has been used as supplements for many years. Dandelion is on FDA's GRAS list and approved for
use as a food flavoring in many other countries However, dandelion may have side effect on bile secretion, people with gallstones
or other related diseases should avoid using dandelion leaf and root . Dandelion may cause allergy to certain people .People
who are allergic to chamomile, yarrow or other related plants should use dandelion with caution. If you are taking lithium, insulin,
anti-coagulation, anti-diuretic or blood-sugar controlling agents, you should consult with your doctor before using dandelion.
Dandelion may have a serious side effect of male infertility. Aqueous extract of dandelion acts as an anti-fertility agent, as it
decreases male rat fertility in vivo. Experimental groups received the aqueous extract of dandelion orally for 60 days in two
different sublethal doses; 1/10 LD(50) as high dose and 1/20 LD(50) as low dose, whereas the control group received distilled
water. The administration of the aqueous extract of Taraxacum officinale resulted in a significant decrease in testis weight in the
two experimental groups. Also, distortion of morphology of the seminiferous tubules and arrest in spermatogenesis was observed
in the experimental groups. [A1] Clinical studies are needed to confirm this finding.
Dosage Forms / Dosage
If you choose to take dandelion supplement, use it as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist. It could
be in the form of tea bags, tablets or capsules.
The benefits / side effects of related supplements / herbs or related conditions:
cod liver oil
Grape Seed Extract
Methods lowering high choleserol
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Medicine Association, 1992, 73-5. 3. Racz-Kotilla E, Racz G, Solomon A. Planta Med 1974:26:212-7. 4. BÃ¶hm K. Arzneimittelforschung 1959;9:376-8.
5. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA:
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Clin Chim Acta. 2002 Mar;317(1-2):109-17].  Contact Dermatitis. 2004 Sep;51(3):101-10].  [Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2002 Sep;66(9):1859-64]
 Racz-Kotilla E et al, The action of Taraxacum officinale extracts on the body weight and diureses of laboratory animals. Planta Med 1974;26:212-
217.  Murray MT. The Healing Power of Herbs: The Enlightened Person's Guide to the Wonders of Medicinal Plants. 2nd ed. Rocklin, Calif: Prima
Publishing; 1995. [14-16] Susnik F The present state of knowledge about the medicinal plant Taraxacum officinale Weber Med Razgl 1982;21:323-328.
European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy. Taraxaci radix (dandelion) Exeter, UK: ESCOP; 1996-1997:2. Mongraphs on the Medicinal Uses of
Plant Drugs, Fascicule 2. Bohm VK Studies on the choleretic action of some drugs Arzneimittelforschung 1959;9:376-378.  Ung-Kyu Choi et al
Hypolipidemic and Antioxidant Effects of Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Root and Leaf on Cholesterol-Fed Rabbits Int J Mol Sci. 2010 January; 11(1):
67–78. [A1] Tahtamouni LH, Alqurna NM, Al-Hudhud MY, Al-Hajj HA. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) decreases male rat fertility in vivo. J
Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Apr 26;135(1):102-9. Epub 2011 Feb 24. [A2] Chatterjee SJ, Ovadje P, Mousa M, Hamm C, Pandey S. The efficacy of dandelion
root extract in inducing apoptosis in drug-resistant human melanoma cells. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:129045. [A3] Ovadje P,
Chatterjee S, Griffin C, Tran C, Hamm C, Pandey S. Selective induction of apoptosis through activation of caspase-8 in human leukemia cells (Jurkat)
by dandelion root extract. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Jan 7;133(1):86-91
|Dandelion benefits and side effects
dandelion benefits skin, liver, hair