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Dandelion (Pu Gong Ying)

What is dandelion? What is it used for?

Dandelion is a common plant that is closely related to chicory. The plant grows to an average height of 12 inches, with green, spatula-shaped leaves and yellow flowers that bloom year-round. Although it is found worldwide (and is often considered the bane of many a gardener’s existence), it is grown commercially in the U.S. and Europe. The leaves and roots are used in herbal supplements.

Dandelion is used as a food in many parts of the world. Its leaves are sometimes used in salads and teas, while its roots are often used as a coffee substitute. It is a rich source of vitamins and minerals; the leaves contain high amounts of vitamin A, and moderate amounts of vitamins C and D; iron; silicon; magnesium; zinc; and manganese.

Historically, dandelion has been used as a blood purifier and a treatment for disease of the liver, including hepatitis. Clinical research has found that the compounds that make dandelion leaves so bitter help stimulate digestion and increase bile production in the gallbladder and bile flow from the liver. The increase in bile flow may help improve fat metabolism.

How much dandelion should I take?

The variety of dandelion to be taken depends on the condition. To stimulate digestion, many practitioners recommend 3-5 grams of dried root or 5-10 ml of a dandelion tincture three times per day. To stimulate the appetite, 4-10 grams of dried leaves can be added to a cup of boiling water as a decoction.

What forms of dandelion are available?

Dried dandelion leaves and roots are available at many health food stores and specialty markets. Some stores also sell alcohol-based dandelion tinctures; other places sell fresh dandelion juice.

What can happen if I take too much dandelion? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

Dandelion leaves and roots should be used with caution by patients with gallstones, stomach ulcers or gastritis. People with obstructed bile ducts should avoid dandelion altogether.

Fresh dandelion leaves may cause an allergic reaction in some individuals. Dandelion may also react adversely with the following medications: ciprofloxacin; loop diuretics; spironolactone; thiazide diuretics; and triamterene. Patients taking these medications should consult with their health care provider before taking dandelion (or any other dietary supplement).

Other Resources :

The More You Know About Minerals

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• Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, pp. 119—20.
• Bradley PR (ed.) British Herbal Compendium, Vol 1. Bournemouth, Dorset, UK: British Herbal Medicine Association, 1992, pp. 73—5.
• Kuusi T, Pyylaso H, Autio K. The bitterness properties of dandelion. II. Chemical investigations. Lebensm-Wiss Technol 1985;18:347—9.
• Takasaki M, Konoshima T, Tokuda H, et al. Anti-carcinogenic activity of taraxacum plant. I. Biol Pharm Bull 1999;22:602—5.
• Takasaki M, Konoshima T, Tokuda H, et al. Anti-carcinogenic activity of taraxacum plant. II. Biol Pharm Bull 1999;22:606—10.


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