Dandelion

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Taraxacum officinale Asteraceae.


Common to fields and roadsides in Europe and parts if Asia, the dandelion, a herbaceous perennial, grows to about 10-30cm high. Deeply indented leaves spr.ing up from around its base, with single yellow flowers appearing in April and May. These are followed by seeds, each topped by a tuft if sift hairs, that catch the wind, helping to disperse the plant far and wide.


Constituents

The root and leaves are rich in fructose and inulin and also contain bitter principles (sesquiterpene lactones), phenol acids and sterols. The leaves also contain flavonoids, potassium salts and coumarins.


Medicinal uses

The bitter principles give dandelion strong diuretic powers - the old English name for it was 'piss-a-bed'. Dandelion is therefore widely used to stimulate urination in cases of water retention, kidney disorders, cellulite and obesity. It also contains potassium to replace that which is lost when urine production is increased. In addition, the root is also diuretic and a mild laxative.


Animal studies have confirmed the diuretic effects of dandelion. The sterols in the leaves also act on the gall bladder and liver, and stimulate the secretion and excretion of bile, all of which can help to cleanse the body of toxins and waste matter.


Because of this, preparations made from dandelion leaves are given to help to dissolve gallstones, and are believed to be beneficial for skin problems and rheumatism.
In an exciting new development, animal studies in 2001 demonstrated that a herbal preparation containing dandelion could lower blood sugar levels, suggesting its potential for treating diabetes.


Parts used

  • Root and leaves
  • The root is collected in May, June, and autumn.
  • Young leaves are gathered in spring.
  • Both are dried for use in infusions, drinkable extracts and capsules.

PREPARATION AND DOSAGE

For internal use


TO TREAT kidney disorders, kidney stones, gallstones, water retention, cellulite, obesity INFUSION Put 1 sachet (root or leaves) into 1 cup of boiling water. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Drink 2 cups a day, 1 hour after each of the two main meals. DRINKABLE.


EXTRACT Take as directed after the midday meal.


CAPSULES (300mg) 1, three times a day with water.


IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST CONSULT A DOCTOR


Cultivation

Sow by seed in spring in moist to dry, neutral to alkaline soil.


CAUTIONS

Always seek advice from a medical herbalist before using any dandelion preparation to treat gallstones.


Do not use to improve the secretion of bile without consulting a doctor, as the problem may be a serious blockage of the bile duct, for which dandelion must not be used.



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