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Scientific Name: Taraxacum officinalis

Constituents:

  • Sesquiterpene lactones (Bitter principle: taraxacin & taraxacerin)
  • Triterpene steroids (sitosterin, taraxasterol, stigmasterin & phytosterin)
  • Phenolic acids
  • Flavonoids
  • Mucilage
  • Polysaccharides (inulin & pectin)
  • Vitamins (especially carotenoids)
  • Minerals, iron, potassium, silicon, magnesium, zinc & manganese

Medicinal actions:

  • Leaf:Alterative
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Bitter
  • Diuretic
  • Nutritive
  • Root:Alterative
  • Anti-cancer (Cytotoxic)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Bitter
  • Hepatic (choleretic & cholagogue)
  • Immunomodulator
  • Laxative
  • Nutritive

Mechanism of Action & Pharmacology:

  • Sesquiterpene lactones (also referred to as taraxacin) are a form of flavonoid that create an osmotic diuretic effect and are unique to the plant (mostly in leaf). They also contribute to the bitter compounds that help stimulate digestive secretions & peristalsis, and may help improve fat (including cholesterol) metabolism in the liver.
  • Polysaccharides & Inulin (mostly in root) activates complement, thus contributing to the anti-inflammatory, & immune-enhancing properties (extracts induce nitric oxide synthase in macrophages).
  • Triterpenes sterols in root bear a close structural similarity to cholesterol, which may in part explain the ability to increase the solubility of bile. Triterpenoid taraxasterol has exhibited powerful inhibitory effect on Herpes Simplex, Epstein-Barr early antigen and experimental mammary tumours.
  • Leaves are high in potassium, replacing potassium lost in diuresis, thus exerting a potassium-sparing effect.
  • Bitter compounds in the leaves and root help stimulate digestion, relieve dyspepsia and have a mild laxative effect.

Pharmacy:

  • Decoction (root)
  • Infusion (leaf)
  • Tincture
  • Capsule
  • As food or coffee substitute

Safety & Toxicity Concerns:

  • Generally very safe herb. However, case reports of allergic reactions and anaphylaxis to ingested bee pollen containing dandelion pollen exist.
  • Avoid in known allergy to Asteraceae family.
  • Use caution in weak or inflamed digestive organs, as it may cause dyspepsia, flatulence, pain, and diarrhea.
  • Use caution in biliary obstruction/inflammation, gallstones, renal disorders (may increase potassium & alter electrolytes).

Interactions:

  • May antagonize antacids and quinolones (e.g. ciprofloxacin).
  • May have additive effects with diuretics, anti-platelet agents, anti-diabetic agents, steroids and supplemental potassium.

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