Taraxacum officinale, the common dandelion, is a flowering herbaceous perennial plant of the family Asteraceae (Compositae). Taraxacum officinale is considered a weed, especially in lawns and along roadsides, but it is also used as a medical herb and in food preparation. Common dandelion is well known for its yellow flower heads that turn into round balls of silver tufted fruits that disperse in the wind.
The name of the genus, Taraxacum, is derived from the Greek taraxos (disorder), and akos (remedy), on account of the curative action of the plant. The plant has several culinary and medicinal uses. The specific name officinalis refers to its value as a medicinal herb, and is derived from the word opificina, later officina, meaning a workshop or pharmacy. The flowers are used to make dandelion wine, the greens are used in salads, the roots have been used to make a coffee substitute (when baked and ground into powder) and the plant was used by Native Americans as a food and medicine.
Dandelion is used internally in the treatment of gall bladder and urinary disorders, gallstones, jaundice, cirrhosis, dyspepsia with constipation, oedema associated with high blood pressure and heart weakness, chronic joint and skin complaints, gout, eczema and acne. The plant has an antibacterial action. The latex contained in Dandelion sap can be used to remove corns and warts. The latex has a specific action on inflammations of the gall bladder and is also believed to remove stones in the liver.
Dandelion plant is cultivated in India as a remedy for liver complaints. It is a general stimulant to the system, but especially to the urinary organs, and is chiefly used in kidney and liver disorders. It helps in the treatment of liver disorder including cirrhosis and jaundice. In the hepatic complaints of persons long resident in warm climates, Dandelion is said to afford very marked relief. A broth of Dandelion roots, sliced and stewed in boiling water with some leaves of Sorrel and the yolk of an egg, taken daily for some months, has been known to cure seemingly intractable cases of chronic liver congestion.
Dandelion is used as a bitter tonic in dyspepsia, and as a mild laxative in habitual constipation. When the stomach is irritated and where active treatment would be injurious, the decoction or extract of Dandelion administered three or four times a day, will often prove a valuable remedy. It has a good effect in increasing the appetite and promoting digestion. Dandelion combined with other active remedies has been used in cases of dropsy and for induration of the liver.
In Silesia and also other parts of Poland and world, dandelion flowers are used to make honey substitute syrup with added lemon (so-called May-honey). This “honey” is believed to have a medicinal value, in particular against liver problems. Dandelion root is sold in Canada as a diuretic. Dandelion is used in herbal medicine as a mild laxative, for increasing appetite, and for improving digestion. The milky latex has been used as a mosquito repellent and as a folk remedy to treat warts.
Dandelions are also grown on a small scale as a leaf vegetable. The leaves (called dandelion greens) can be eaten cooked or raw in various forms, such as in soup or salad. Usually the young leaves and unopened buds are eaten raw in salads, while older leaves are cooked. The leaves are high in vitamin A, vitamin C and iron, carrying more iron and calcium than spinach. Dandelion flowers can be used to make dandelion wine, for which there are many recipes. Dandelion and burdock is a soft drink that has long been popular in the United Kingdom. Ground roasted dandelion root can be used as a non-caffeinated coffee substitute.
- Tecoma undulata plays an important role in the treatment of liver disorders including hepatitis and ascites
- Alcohol consumption leading to serious liver diseases