Dandelion

Latin:  Taraxacum officialis

Family:   Asteraceae

Parts Used:  Whole herb

Taste/Energetics:  Cooling, drying.  The root is sweet and bitter.

Properties:   Alterative, cholagogue, carminative, mild laxative, diuretic, tonic

Actions:  Dandelion root is simply one of the best herbs available to us because it is a weed that grows easily and can be harvested in abundance and because it has so many health giving properties.  Dandelion primarily functions as an old-school “alterative”, a term for or an herb that improves metabolism, elimination of waste and gently restores health.  With its bitter and sweet taste, dandelion root promotes bile production and better hepatic function which in turn reduces skin ailments such as eczema and psoriasis.  I once used an herbal formula of yellow dock, oregon grape and dandelion for a large patch of psoriasis that I had developed on my neck and it went away after 3 weeks of drinking a decoction of those herbs.

Dandelion also is a mild diuretic and has been known as pis en lit in France (“Piss in Bed”).  The diuretic effect makes it helpful for kidney conditions and the combined liver and kidney clearing function of this herb make it helpful for those who feel congested, constipated, stuck, heavy and damp.  In Chinese medicine this is an herb that would be seen as clearing stuck heat and dampness stuck in the system.   Dandelion is also very nutritious with loads of potassium, phosphorus and iron as well as high amounts of vitamin A.

In terms of mental health I see it as helpful for those who feel overburdened and toxified by too much sugar, alcohol and heavy and processed food as well as too much stress.  There is a feeling that the filter organs aren’t functioning too well and the individual starts to feel weighed down, perhaps with arthritic pain, bloating and poor skin conditions.  There is often a feeling of associated frustration (biliousness), and stagnant depression with these health conditions that dandelion addressees as well.   Its detoxifying and tonic effects helps cool and reduce inflammation.

That means it  is quite useful for helping overheated “go-getters” who can’t slow down and are prone to anxiety, anger and inflammatory conditions (pitta type in Ayurveda).  It is deeply nutritive and therefore helpful for the burnt out exhausted depressed type as well.

Dosage:   Dandelion leaves can be gathered in the Spring and added to salads for their nutritional virtue as well as their mild diuretic effects.  Roots are traditionally gathered in the Fall or early spring.  As a decoction, take 1 -2 tbsp of herb and add to pint of water simmered for 30 minutes.   Doses of 15-30 grams (up to a quarter cup of root) decocted in a quart of water is my favorite way to suggest working with this plant as you really get the nutritional tonic effect this way.  Also as a tincture 2-4 ml up to 3 x/day.  Delicious in wines, syrups, oxymels, etc.

Contraindications:   None

Further Reading:  

Dandelion monograph   by Rosalee de la Foret

Dandelion monograph  by Elise Krohn